Strategic Plan will help shape the future

A new semester is upon us once again and after a rejuvenating Christmas break, I look forward to an exciting spring at the University of Lethbridge. Welcome to all new students and welcome back continuing students and all of the staff and faculty.

I will open this month's column by congratulating Andy Hakin (Vice-President Academic and Provost) and Nancy Walker (Vice-President Finance and Administration), co-chairs of the planning committee that created our 2009-2013 Strategic Plan. This project has long been in the works and under their guidance, a dynamic and comprehensive plan has been created.

The process we underwent to produce this strategic plan is extremely important. It was a lengthy process and it involved talking to a lot of people about the University; finding out what people think about their University, our University. I think that kind of conversation is a good thing to have every five years. You find out what people are thinking, what's important to people and from there you are able to put those thoughts and goals into a readable format that has realistic objectives.

This document is a plan for the future. The Strategic Plan is essentially a job description for all of those who work at the university now and in the years ahead. Much of it is focused on creating a better, even more exciting environment for students — that's what we're about anyway — and an even better working environment for our employees.

We want people to be part of the plan and that goes back to the whole process of creating the plan. The process is intended to draw people into the planning effort, rather than coming out with a plan and saying here it is, find your place in it. I'm very happy with what the strategic planning committee has done. They have created a document that very much reads like a constitution. Administration will be helpful with the initial implementation of the plan, but the real implementation will take place in the grassroots of the faculty, the staff and the students.

As the spring semester begins, it's nice to see the 1st Choice Savings Centre gym back in full operational status. I commend the Sport and Recreation Services staff for their diligence in working around the closure of the South gym for the fall semester.

Another opening of note on campus is the new Disabilities Resource Centre. Now located in B760, the centre may have moved only down the hall but the change in location is significant. Students will be served much better by the centre's new space as it provides greatly improved access and will allow Christine Johnson and her talented staff to fully serve their clientele.

We've come to expect a lineup of outstanding guest lecturers here at the University and the spring semester opens with a fascinating speaker in Cynthia Cooper. Renowned as the whistle blower on WorldCom, the world's greatest corporate fraud at the time, Cooper's Jan. 29 presentation is especially relevant in today's economic climate.

It promises to be an excellent spring semester and I encourage everyone to come out to the Atrium on Feb. 12 and celebrate the launch of our new Strategic Plan. It is your Univer-sity and this plan will help you shape the future