When I arrived at Wilfrid Laurier University 10 years ago, I was impressed by its tradition of academic excellence, its keen sense of community and the highly engaged students and alumni who share such a passionate connection to this university.
What more could an incoming president ask for?
In my installation address, I said the challenge of a modern university president — and, indeed, the challenge for all faculty and staff leaders — was to create environments within the university, and through external partnerships, in which the highest quality of teaching, thinking, action and aspiration is both supported and expected.
No one can create such environments alone. It takes collaboration, goodwill and trust. Fortunately, I found at Laurier a community of like-minded and enthusiastic individuals who sought to build on the solid foundations that had been laid by wise and thoughtful predecessors over the past century.
What I felt was needed, however, was a collegial process to help determine what the university should aspire to over the next 30 years. Laurier had grown rapidly in the previous decade. The time seemed right to assess where we wanted to go as an academic community and to chart a path forward.
A Senate Envisioning Laurier Committee was struck, along with a staff- and alumni-supported consultation process, charged with asking the university community to consider a few fundamental questions: Who are we? What do we value and care about? And what do we aspire to be?
The results, I believe, sharpened our understanding of who we are as a community and provided valuable guidance for making decisions about where we want to go.
The Envisioning Laurier exercise immediately paid dividends and continues to benefit the university. It led to the creation of an institutional statement of Values, Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles; it was the basis on which we developed our highly authentic and reflective institutional proposition, inspiring lives of leadership and purpose; it informed the development of strong multi-campus governance principles; it supported our focus on student experience, experiential learning, community engagement and diversity and equity; and it has influenced the development of key planning documents such as our Strategic Academic Plan, our Strategic Research Plan and our Strategic Mandate Agreement with the provincial government.
As I look back on my two terms as president, I am deeply grateful to have worked with so many of you in creating the kinds of environments that support exceptional teaching and research, an outstanding student experience, active alumni engagement and a vibrant connection with the wider world around us.
Laurier truly is a gem among Canada’s post-secondary institutions. As I prepare to depart the president’s role, I am confident that the future remains exceptionally bright for this remarkable university.
President and Vice-Chancellor