Draft strategic renewal document

May 2016

We started our strategic renewal process by reaching out to the University community, our partners and our friends to get their input on what makes U of G exceptional and what our future should look like. We listened. We asked for clarification. We drafted.

 

Those community thoughts and ideas were reflected in our May 2016 draft strategic renewal document.

 

Access the May 2016 Draft Strategic Renewal Document

 

The draft was further refined and later presented to the Senate and Board of Governors, who unanimously approved it as the University of Guelph’s strategic framework.

 

 

64 comments on “Draft strategic renewal document

  • Anonymous says:

    My congratulations for a well written document. Just few comments to be considered for any future revision:
    1. The document lacks any aspects of self evaluation or self criticism. It does not highlight what is really missing (or was missing in the past strategic plan) and how that will be addressed in the future. For example, we know that in rankings in certain disciplines UoG is not doing as great as would be expected compared to other institutions. So how we are going to address these reputation issues.

    2. The document does not really reflect what is unique about Guelph. What is our strategic advantage and how do we intend to maintain it? We need to ask the question that how our strategic plan stand in comparison to other university plans.

    3. It will be great if some KPIs can me mentioned against each theme. We have mentioned broad areas of evaluation if the plans are working or addressing the issues at hand but going into little bit of more detail or operationalizing it through KPIs may make the plan more practical.

  • Anonymous says:

    Many thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback on what has clearly been a very reflective and exhaustive process.

    I am delighted by your vision for the future of teaching and learning and I am excited by the prospect of being able to contribute to it as we move ahead.

    One thing that came to mind when I was reading some of your goals is that, given our resources and structure, we should try a different model, something subtly dramatic.

    I have often wondered about the role of Open Ed and the services that it provides. It has been a vital hub of research collaboration for me. But I have also witnessed the constraints that are experienced by a department made entirely of administrative staff. I have wondered what might happen if we created seven faculty positions in Open Ed, one for each College, and peopled those positions with DBERs (discipline-based education researchers), faculty who teach in their respective colleges but who conduct research together in Open Ed. A research hub in teaching and learning!!!

    … my research explores ways of tapping into existing academic frameworks to insert disruptive models that have emergent outcomes unlike those that are currently expected. This one described above could help put Guelph on the map for innovation in teaching and learning.

    Again, many many thanks for the opportunity to share.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with most of the comments thus far. The amount of money spent on conducting this project is not well-spent! The document is VERY self-promoting with long-winded, flowery words. It’s so over-the-top that it can’t even be used for promotional purposes. It’s so generic that it has become meaningless. It is interesting that the statements are claiming how great everything is but in reality, there are serious challenges! For example, class sizes have doubled or more in recent years, with a decrease in TAship support. So, the quality of education has decreased as instructors were forced to re-design their courses (use of more multiple choice tests, group projects, etc.). Research dollars….are we really the best??? The stats say otherwise. UG is a good place but to claim that we’re the best at everything then, why do we need this “renewal”?

  • Anonymous says:

    I am a student who has just completed first year at the University of Guelph.

    I decided that I would try to add at least one comment to the university Strategic Plan, to support one of the things I love about U of G: that you do care about my opinion and wellbeing.

    The first comment I have would be an addition or articulation within the Connecting Communities section. It is stated that the university will (and currently does) make an effort to be “inclusive, open and respectful so that each member of the University and every visitor has confidence that they are valued.” I think it is also vital to specify the importance of positive and engaged professor-student and TA-student relationships; I think that my success at the university is in large part due to the openness of the teaching staff, and I would like to see this be fostered and continue.

    The second comment I have fits under the Stewarding Valued Resources section. I really appreciate the value that the university places on the environment and local production. However, one thing that does perplex me is the lack of public composting services. I understand that Eco Rep groups do provide composting opportunities, but I think that this is a service that needs to become more mainstream for the benefit and longevity of the planet. The Strategic Plan is broad, so I understand if something as specific as this seems out of place. I thought I would mention just in case.

    Thank you for providing the opportunity for students to give feedback. As I stated, this inclusiveness is one of the things I love about Guelph.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have read the Draft Document and was part of the focus group stage. I thought the summary of the comments from the focus group stage was quite good.
    This draft document however I do not think is very good yet. There is a lot of confusing language and awkward sentences and concepts. It feels like the summary document was condensed even further to make this document without really taking the time to abstract proper ideas and concepts out of the summery. It still feels and reads like a summery instead of a document that explains what is important to us and how we should measure if our plans are meeting our overall expectations.

    I would suggest that another focus group/consultation session be done for this specific document. People who are working in the fields or in the tasks mentioned should be asked to revise the appropriate theme in the document. For example. … the Stewarding Valued resources Theme, section. Everything in that section fits under the concept of environmental economic and social sustainability. The language that is currently used is very unclear repetitive and misleading.

    I feel that I don’t have enough time or the means to make helpful suggestions/criticism. I think with some very focused criticism from a variety of different people, consulting the original input that each concept summarized this document could become very useful and clear.

  • Anonymous says:

    While I understand that this is a draft of a larger plan, this document is, as others have stated, disappointing. It reads like any corporate “plan”, full of buzzwords that don’t appear to be unique to Guelph. Looking at other the mission statements of other universities yields similar language.

    This document lacks several important things: actionable items (i.e. what EXACTLY we are going to do moving forward), as well as end goals. It’s all very well to say “we are committed to x” but this is impossible to support this (or be held accountable) with no next steps or ultimate goals.

    And again as others have also stated, our green initiatives are still lacking. Why do we not have compost facilities available in residences and lecture/lab buildings? Why are some of the older buildings still running on inefficient tech? Why is the institution still invested in fossil fuels? We put out the facade that we’re an environmentally-friendly university, but it’s rather hypocritical.

  • Anonymous says:

    I can see myself, in my role at U of G, in a number of the themes in the document. I support the campus infrastructure that makes it possible for faculty and students to do their work. Over my years here I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many faculty, students, staff, sessionals, and executives.
    I’m glad to see that top talent beyond faculty and grad students is recognized. Faculty and grad students play an important role. U of G couldn’t run without them. It also couldn’t run if they were the only employees here. Top talent is needed in all areas of operation.
    I’m glad to see emphasis on knowledge-sharing partnerships. I value the relationships I have with colleagues at U of G and beyond. Sometimes it’s just to bounce ideas off each other. Sometimes it’s to complain. Sometimes we advance an idea that achieves something great. The opportunity is extremely valuable to my work.
    I’m glad to see stewardship of our resources included again, as it was in 1995 and in 1986. ( I’m not sure of the year. I don’t have it in front of me right now.) Part of this is developing and using our campus resources to our best advantage. With a campus as old as ours there’s always more to do in this area.
    I’m glad to see U of G’s distinct culture included. For me a key trait is the grass-roots nature of innovation and development. I believe we’ve inherited this from our founding colleges which themselves were born of societal need and added programs where gaps in knowledge or skills existed.
    What I didn’t see is a document that is a fully developed strategic plan. I didn’t see specific goals and targets identified. I didn’t see perfect language choice. I guess that’s why it says “Draft” in big letters of watermark behind every page.
    I also didn’t see myself, or my unit, or even the rest of my reporting line in every bullet of every theme. I didn’t expect to. This document is for the University of Guelph. The entire University. Some of the bullets need to be addressed to other areas and people, even some to the self-centred commenters who entertained me with their narrow mindedness.
    Congratulations to the committee for their work on the draft document. I believe we’re off to a good start and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

  • Anonymous says:

    This document is utterly useless, brings nothing new or valuable to the table. If you’d like “Strategic Renewal”, here’s an idea; STOP cutting funding for arts programs, DIVEST from dirty energy and STOP PANDERING TO CORPORATE INTERESTS.

  • Anonymous says:

    Excellent and inspirational statements. They need to be made more specific. Nobody can be against virtue. The statements are so broad that pretty much anything can fit under them. I guess we need to wait and see what they really mean with more tangible strategic goals and effort priorities.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the success of the Strategic Renewal at the University of Guelph is largely dependent on its personnel. However, there is no mention of improved Human Resource Management in the document. As a long time employee of the institution, the majority of our staff contribute immensely to its success. My concern is that administration appears to very reluctant to address poor performance. If our administration does not address this issue in our Strategic Renewal we will never reach our full potential.

  • Anonymous says:

    Coming from a recent post-grad in Public Relations/Communications, I can understand the need for a document like this. Although many of the comments I have read so far miss the point on what a Strategic Renewal actually is, hopefully, you will consider my input a bit more informed.

    One of the main concerns I have with this document is the uniqueness of the five strategic themes. They are adeptly worded, but they are missing that Guelph ‘flair’ that was brought up so well in the introduction. What makes the University of Guelph unique? I’m sure any university will have “retain top talent” etc. etc. Now, I’m not saying to get rid of these themes, I am just saying to add a few more that are Guelph specific – and word them as such.

    When I first arrived on campus in 2010 as an eager freshman, I knew the University of Guelph was one of the most environmentally friendly universities around (and had the ‘greenest campus’). In the document, I could only find a few mentions of this. Other universities will have similar claims to saving the environment, but Guelph, born out of the history of the OAC, should be number one in environmentally friendly initiatives. It should be put into stern writing and as a bullet point of its own, as opposed to having it shoved in with the multiple meanings of the word ‘environment.’ Any new project should be assessed based on its impact on the ecosystem that surrounds our great university, and beyond.

    My next/final suggestion comes from my recent background as a graduate student in the field of PR/Communications (although unfortunately not at Guelph.) We learned a great deal on how to engage and interact with our publics or stakeholders – in your case, students, alumni, faculty, city residents, etc. We learned that in any deliberation with a stakeholder, it should be timely, accurate, yet fun and interactive. These all lead to transparency, which is vital for the setting up of new projects/programs that may be checked against this strategic document. Make sure the most important of the stakeholders (students and faculty) know exactly what is going on and ask for their input (much like you are doing here). I didn’t really see the notion of transparency in this document. Yes, accountability is similar, but it would be considered ‘reactive,’ as opposed to the more ‘proactive’ transparency. So please make sure something like this is included! It is always better to be prepared. I point to the recent UBC sexual assault scandal as a scary example of when transparency at a university is neglected.

    Everything else in the document is more than alright, and I think it will be a successful document with the tweaks given by other informed participants. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to help Guelph move forward. I love the University of Guelph, so please take care of him/her!

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m disappointed in the Strategic Renewal consultation document. It lacks vision. I agree that U of G is a great institution, but what does it want to be, or look like, in the future? More bricks and mortar or less, more students or fewer, how many faculty, staff, sports facilities, parking spots, etc.

    Really I don’t see how this Strategic Renewal plan is any different from the 1995 Strategic Plan. Please describe how operational plans will need to change under this new strategic plan compared to the old one.

    Why invest in this process now if there’s no new direction on offer? The statement “The challenges we face now are more urgent than ever…” was just as plausible in the 1990’s as it is now and will be in the 2030’s I imagine.

    I have no grievances with U of G. Although my preference would be more dollars directed to enhance student learning experiences instead of dollars to tear down buildings and erect statues and half walls at main intersections on Gordon street, I’m not directly impacted by those financial decisions.

    I’m proud to be a U of G alumnus and I’m pleased to live close to campus as a Guelph resident. I want to see U of G get this strategic plan right. Unfortunately, what is presented to date is just about moving forward with “more of the same” or a continuation of the path set in 1995 but with more of this and more of that. That is not a refreshed strategic plan and it’s not indicative of the distinctive university culture you suggest as per the statement: “It’s about being willing to do things differently, without pretense or apology.”

    If you’re not brave enough to set a bold new direction, then I suggest you just continue with old strategic plan.

  • Anonymous says:

    The document reads well and puts forth a reasonable plan, albeit at an aspirational level.

    It seems like a doc that will support pretty much anything going forward, but maybe that is the goal…..

  • Anonymous says:

    I am impressed by the document recently circulated. But as a member of the COA, I have to express my disappointment at the lack of mention of the arts and humanities. These are vibrant and essential programs at U of G, they nourish our students in myriad ways, and yet they seem to play no part in our vision for the future of the institution. I can appreciate how the 5 Strategic Themes are meant to apply across disciplines… in which case, concepts like “creativity” and “culture” should appear.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the “Guelphiness of Guelph” has been lost in this document. This institution has a very distinct personality, and it is one of the best attributes of this place. Most students who visit the campus feel it immediately, even if it is difficult to articulate.

    In my opinion, the Guelphiness of Guelph is easiest to see in the physical layout of the campus, which is a reflection of its unique and attractive personality:

    – open, inviting, green spaces, like Johnson Green and the Arboretum
    – historical buildings, such as Johnson Hall and the Bull Ring
    – modern buildings, such as SSC and Roszanski Hall
    – located in the centre of the city and but maintaining an uncrowded feeling, with large fields, lots of trees, and even cows!

    MOST IMPORTANT POINT: The physical design of campus reflects the community feel of the institution, which is open and friendly, with an emphasis on environmental responsibility and stewardship. We are forward-looking (strong research in core sciences and engineering), with a unique emphasis on areas of importance to our community (food science, agricultural sciences, veterinary sciences, etc.), all the while maintaining strong historical links and a grounded yet highly creative atmosphere (literature, visual arts, history, etc.)

  • Anonymous says:

    This is very high level, so high I don’t see myself or my discipline in it at all. There is no commitment to comprehensive education including arts and humanities. A follow-up strategic Plan can pull just about anything out of this.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’d like to offer my appreciation to the people who have been working hard – and will continue to do so – on the Strategic Renewal Process. This is a thankless job, and I appreciate your commitment and contributions.

    Here’s what I liked about the document: I liked to hear the historical contextualisation of the university. Who we are today is shaped by our roots, and I agree that it is important to point this out. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear in the document why the historical information is there. Clearly the committee members thought it was important to include this information, but I think the connections between past and present – and how this has shaped our unique identity – should be stated more explicitly.

    The other thing I liked it the inclusion of the theme about “Connecting Communities.” I certainly see the U of G as “community-engaged,” and I agree that this is a unique aspect of our institutional identity which filters down into the practices of individual researchers. I think the document can be even more specific about which communities it engages with, and what is the nature of the engagement.

    I also liked the inclusion of “Stewarding Valued Resources,” and hope that U of G could take a leadership role in this area. I agree with other commenters that it could be very interesting to make explicit connections between our values and the Sustainable Development Goals, which are not only directed towards developing countries. As a public institution, we have a responsibility to demonstrate how we are contributing towards the SDGs and the Strategic Renewal process is a great opportunity for us to align ourselves with these goals.

    I wasn’t convinced by the inclusion of “Catalyzing Discovery and Change” as one of the five values. I agree with other comments that there is nothing unique about this section that would distinguish Guelph from other Ontario universities. In other words, universities are supposed to catalyze discovery and change, so this feels a bit like the authors of the document are simply checking off a box. I think that, if this section must be included, more needs to be done to link this to U of G. I know this isn’t an easy task, because you risk leaving out (and offending) areas of research and innovation that aren’t mentioned. In my view, one of U of G’s strengths is its breadth of expertise across the hard sciences, social sciences, and humanities. I know there is pressure from the Province for universities to specialise, but I don’t think we should overlook that our breadth of expertise is exactly our strength.

    My final critique is that I simply hated the sentence on the final page: “The world needs more of, and more from us.” This is pompous and self-congratulatory. It’s this kind of fluff that significantly detracts from all the positive things about the document.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well done! I particularly like your “we will test our. … “segments. I hope you will use these outcomes to update your stakeholders and your communities as to the success you experience as you operationalize the plan.
    Thank you for letting me be a part of this process.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the Strategic Renewal document sounds great! One thought was that you might
    want to consider changing the names of the areas to create an (almost) alliteration
    when shortened. e.g.,

    – Kindling teaching, learning and inquiry
    – Catalyzing discovery and change
    – Connecting communities
    – Cultivating valued resources
    – Creating distinctive university culture

    (I agree that some of the verbs convey slightly different nuances compared to my
    suggestion, but then again, “kindling, catalyzing, connecting, cultivating, creating”
    has a nice ring to it and builds a nice transition from kindling to creating).

    Just a thought!

  • Anonymous says:

    Speaking as a retired faculty, I am somewhat concerned that this document does not do enough to recognize the importance of faculty in delivering the key missions of the university. With regard to teaching, I prefer the situation where faculty have substantial freedom to organize/develop their course offerings. Sometimes the classic lecture or lecture/laboratory model will be the most efficient, and still be appropriate. Sometimes courses will lend themselves to an exploration of case-based learning, work-place-preparing learning outcomes etc. Given that students take ~40 courses from 40+ different professors, a diversity of approaches to course delivery may well be the preferred outcome. Also, I think all professors should be prepared to teach at least one substantive course in their area of expertise. Instead, I suspect that the University might be relying too heavily on sessional instructors; and my sense is that laboratories in science courses have been allowed to lapse because of a lack of suitable resources.
    With regard to research (including graduate and post doctoral training), again it is the faculty that drives this enterprise. It seems to me that in recent years the ability of researchers to sustain their programs has been undermined by increased bureaucracy in the shape of mandatory complicated/delaying Institutional approvals, increased reporting and new Institutional charges. At some point, however, the cost of increased accountability becomes, itself, unaccountable.
    For me, therefore, the bottom line is that the University should more effectively harness and empower the faculty when optimizing the ability to deliver quality teaching and research.

  • Anonymous says:

    This document is a “vision” document, not a strategic document. It has a list of principles and abstract goals presented in flowery language. It’s a document length mission statement. A strategic document needs to be clear and concise and do the following things: provide a concrete definition of each goal, justify why these goals have been selected, provide a plan for how these goals will be achieved and define how the success of the plan will be evaluated. This document doesn’t do that.

    An example:

    The first abstract goal listed in the “strategic” document is: “Intensify our commitment to evidence based teaching and learning practices that are student centred.” Actually, that’s two goals: “Intensify our commitment to evidence based teaching” and “Intensify our commitment to learning practices that are student centred”, which is a problem through out the document as distinct concepts are treated as implicitly linked. Lets focus on “evidence based teaching”. What is do you mean by evidence based learning? With only a few seconds thought, two distinct definitions of that term popped into my head:1) Focus the material in the courses at the university on evidence based studies with a strong emphasis on statistical analysis; 2) Provide the professors and TA with teaching methods that are supported by evidence based studies in neurology. Without a clear, concrete and specific definition of the term, I don’t know what you mean. For all I know, you mean something completely different than the two ideas I suggested. In the current version of the document, countless terms are ambiguous in this way and the use of the style of language used is counter to the needs of the document. What exactly does “intensify our commitment” mean in a concrete sense? How is it going to change the policies and spending priorities of the administration? Is it a justification for cutting humanities programs that don’t use an evidence based approaches in favour of increased investment in science and engineering? What are you actually trying to achieve with this goal? What is our current level of commitment to this goal? What is wrong with our current level of commitment? How do we intensify it? What the **** do you actually mean?

    A second example:

    The first way “We will test our plans by asking how will they:” is “Contribute to a more adaptive and inclusive learning environment that builds on, and advances evidence based teaching and innovative pedagogies?” That’s another goal, not an implementation strategy. This is inherently deceptive, as from a strategy perceptive, there is not difference between the goals listed here and the goals listed above. They are both lists of goals that you want your plans to achieve. In fact, you could swap the lists and not effect the document in any significant way. How is evaluating “Intensify our commitment to evidence based teaching and learning practices that are student centred” through asking how it “Contribute to a more adaptive and inclusive learning environment that builds on, and advances evidence based teaching and innovative pedagogies” different than evaluating “Contribute to a more adaptive and inclusive learning environment that builds on, and advances evidence based teaching and innovative pedagogies” through “Intensify our commitment to evidence based teaching and learning practices that are student centred”. All it does is make it look like you have considered how to implement and evaluate your goals when there is no actual evidence in the document that you have. Perhaps the most damning evidence that this is a “vision” document is that phrase “We will test our plans by asking how will they” because it indicates that plan that a strategic document defines doesn’t exist.

    Also, why use the word “pedagogies”? I admit that I had to look it up, and it is defined as “the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.” This means that we can replace “pedagogies” with “teaching methods” and not change the meaning of the sentence. If the goal of the document is to clearly communicate with the reader, writing “teaching methods” should be favoured as it has the same meaning and won’t cause a significant portion of your audience to go to their dictionaries to figure out what you mean. If this is mean to be part of a press release meant to instill confidence in the administration, “pedagogies” would be preferred as the use of specialized language inferred the perception of higher status and education, but if it is meant to be used as a tool for making decisions, the clearer language should be used. This is symptomatic of the entire document as it avoids clear, concise and specific language throughout.

    Look, I’ve spent almost 800 words analyzing one and a half sentences and there are clear problems. If this is meant to be a “vision” document, please just release it to the press and don’t waste any more time or money on it. If you want it to be an actual tool that can be effectively used in decision making, you need to be clear and specific in what your goals are, how and why you are going to achieve them and how you will know that you have succeed. As is, this is the kind of document that the cast of Dilbert would spend 4 hour meetings writing and you are making yourself look like a pointy-haired boss.

  • Anonymous says:

    I offer some comments and I hope that you find some of them helpful. Overall, the document was well-conceived and written.

    Page 2, 2nd paragraph under Macdonald Institute, the phrase “the evolving dynamics of family relationships” should read the evolving ‘understanding’ of the dynamics of family relationships – that is, through research, we are enhancing this understanding. Also, the sentence “…the University continues to play a leadership role in understanding health and wellness – is missing a word, eg continues to play a leadership role in fostering understanding. Lastly, I do not think sustainable business practices are part of the current program, but we do prepare students for a variety of roles (entry to leadership) in the human, health and social service industries.

    Page 5, second last sentence “… understand the importance to health and well-being found in the connections among all living things–plants and animals alike.” should include people, “… among all living things – people, plants and animals”, or “…among all living things including plants and animals.” Through research, we are beginning to understand that the quality of social connections between people is one of, if not the, strongest factor related to health (more than exercise, diet, and so forth ,of course, not including famine-stricken areas etc).

    Concluding section on page 10 contains the idea that the world ‘needs more of University of Guelph’ and this language does not resonate with me. University of Guelph seems uniquely positioned to make profound contributions on the world stage, and locally.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just wondering how interesting and innovative it would be to see how the strategic renewal areas could be aligned with the new UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development These new UN goals are meant to apply to ALL COUNTRIES not just developing countries and they address areas in which Guelph has aspired to create change though research, innovation, teaching and service both domestically and abroad. The 17 UN Goals fall into six categories: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.

    In the next few months the Ontario Council for International Cooperation will be visiting municipalities, universities and colleges to determine how institutions will contribute to meeting the Global Goals. It would be an opportune time to be the first University in Canada to commit to these goals as part of our own strategic renewal and continue the themes of “Changing Lives and Improving Life” and “the Better Planet Project” in a new, tangible and inspiring way.

    A Huffington post article recently examined what these goals mean to Canada:

    Realizing the SDGs in Canada for all people will be no easy feat will mean acknowledging highly political realities, tackling structural and systemic inequalities and working across sectors with representatives of different national and international groups to find sustainable solutions to deep-rooted challenges.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/development-unplugged/un-summit-global-goals-canada_b_8167946.html

  • Anonymous says:

    As requested from the community, here are some thoughts on the Strategic Renewal Plan document. Let me begin by acknowledging how difficult these sorts of documents are, not just in the actual ideas but in the nature of their presentation and the language used.

    So, while I have some criticisms of the report I do want to congratulate the group on work well done (of which the most important aspect IMHO was the consultation process which allowed community engagement).

    As for the document itself, it seems less a strategic plan (e.g. there are no timelines, is this a 5, 10 or 20 year plan; there are few deliverables or actionable outcomes) and more a statement of guiding principles (e.g. values, directions, attitudes, aspirations). This is fine, it might just require talking about the document differently.

    The themes are important and powerful (in the sense of inspirational). I especially like the verbs that begin the theme descriptions (igniting, catalyzing, connecting, stewarding; not so much “offering” …. “nurturing” perhaps?). The verbs carry the energy of the document and the vision of the piece.

    For me, these verbs and the slightly reworked phrase “more of us and more from us” are the heart of this vision.

    Not that happy with the self-congratulatory tone of the document. I understand the need to situate this in our history (a bit too much of that too) and to make that history a platform. However, there is a self-effacing modesty to the University of Guelph (it’s part of that culture you so rightly highlight) that makes some of these statement seem boastful and as a result hollow (bureaucratize).

    Where are the “moonshots”? Where are the aspirational stretches that create the challenges for us? In some ways (and I know how daft this probably sounds) the plan seems too easy to achieve (i.e. under promising to over deliver?). Why not give us a BHAG? Did we not suggest one to you?

    At the end of what is a philosophical document, you highlight three “most immediate” initiatives. Why? Are these the most important or just the next? I would have thought this sort of specific content was more appropriately part of the, unmentioned, Integrated Plan (the tool that operationalizes the strategic plan).

    A few random observations:

    I didn’t see any comment on or commitment to student accessibility/affordability.

    I would have liked to have seen a recognition of evidence-based decision making as a key enabler.

    Since I think of risk and failure as key elements of success I would have liked something that encouraged real risk taking (not just its softer cousin “innovation”).

    Lastly, the “Moving Forward” concluding section would seem more appropriate, and powerful, as the beginning section of the document. It launches into the key perspectives and provides an inspirational starting place.

    Many thanks for the opportunity to contribute and congratulations again on the excellent work.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am sorry to say I agree with most, if not all previous comments. This document is not even close to showing Guelph as a unique university. Why are the arts being cut left, right and centre? Why are there no ENGL classes in the summer? Why are the older buildings not being taken care of properly? New chairs, desks, bathrooms, fountains, etc. Making the university look good is all well and fine, but how about making it FEEL good for the students first! Tuition is killing them, and don’t even get me started on the price of parking and parking passes. I am so very disappointed in this and whom ever was a party to it. It says you do not really know or listen to the students at all. You waste our hard earned money and are focused on all of the wrong things. You care more about reputation and prestige than the students you educate. A human may need science to evolve but a soul needs art to survive.

  • Anonymous says:

    The main purpose of this program is to prepare graduates for the job market, and for good career, in All areas of business.

    I, therefore, have two general comments, as follows:

    1. Offer more courses (Required, or elective) that provide students with hands-on practical experience with IT and the Internet.
    2. Broaden the curriculum to include more courses about supply chain management / operations management.

  • Anonymous says:

    We need better working spaces and need lecture halls to not feel so crammed. Please get better chairs!

  • Anonymous says:

    Upon reading this document I did not know what to expect. Though it was quite disappointing, as it is poorly written and some parts seem to be not carefully articulated. There is so much use of the word “scholarly” and “excellence” that the focus is either vague or not present at all.

    I had a problem with this paragraph that states: “Promote informed decision making and change leadership through our scholarly activities.” -This sentence is quite awkward, and would suggest to omit the word scholarly and just say “activities”.

    We know that UofG is scholarly based but what really makes it different, as opposed to other universities? What is our wow factor? How about mentioning the drive to inspire, educate, and challenge students to be enthusiastic in their learning environments.

    I think that passionate contributors including faculty, librarians, graduate students and other professionals and experts should be emphasized rather than “top talents” as mentioned in the document. It makes it seem that students and others who are not so called “top talents or leading researchers do not have the ability to make a proactive/lasting change in the environment whether regarding research practices, innovations etc.

    Lastly, I would change this sentence: ” Our renewed strategic path is built on a simple premise: The world needs more and more from us.” More what? This needs to be elaborate to a statement such as ” Our renewed path is built on a simple premise: The world needs proactive solutions or something along those lines.

    Aswell, our pride in multiculturalism, challenging xenophobic views, and concern on the well being of faculty especially regarding mental health, importance and safety of all individuals and plans to sustain those mandates in place should be present in this document. This document sounds like its focus was to make an over the top impression, but failed rather miserably.The whole document should be revised to be simple, easy to understand and to the point rather than sounding persuasive, flowery and off putting. Noting that important facts must be present to back up statements.

  • Anonymous says:

    A lot of work, and hours and energy went into this. Yet, it barely touches the surface of who we are, and what we’re about. It spends too much time giving us a history lesson, and its full of academic speak. “Commitment to excellence’, ‘innovation’, ‘transparent’, ‘accountable’…isn’t that what every university says they are, or aspires to be? We need to embrace who we are and from that, find the gumption to establish a niche for ourselves. We know where we come from, now use that to tell us where we’re going.

    And to other authors of comments,
    let’s not get lost in the weeds here and focus on details like a bike shelter. Let’s not focus on how this affects us today, but how will it affect us in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years? It’s called Strategic for a reason.

  • Anonymous says:

    There are a lot of positive items in the Strategic Renewal: Charting our Path Draft document. I believe that a robust and clearly articulated document is essential to ensuring that an organization of our size is all ‘rowing in the same direction’ to use an analogy.

    I do struggle with the wide ranging and almost all encompassing strategic elements ranging from all Education, Research, Communities, Resources and even Culture. Five varied priorities is too much and doesn’t allow for a future framework to guide decisions to be made on priorities. I believe something simpler centered on Knowledge – and Research, Teaching and Resource Management would circle that core would be much clearer. While Culture and Community are important – they are a by-product of how you responsibly deliver on the core elements of building and sharing of knowledge.

    I think a clear and simple image will make it easier to redirect resources (money, office space, or institutional clout) from areas not AS supportive as other areas. I would like to see something more sharply stated to support tough decisions.

  • Anonymous says:

    How about you use this money that us students are providing you with, to fix our horrendous parking situation.

  • Anonymous says:

    The draft document is too complicated. Personally I like the sheltered bike racks. More people should ride their bikes. So many students drive to school and they are complaining about tuition. I walked to and from the university when I was a student . It helped me to relax after exams. The university needs to put more emphasis on rectifying environmental problems otherwise we will get more fires like those in Fort Macmurry due to climate change. Focus on the important things.

  • Anonymous says:

    To evaluate such a document it is imperative to first see and accept the vision and mission of the University. This is founded in the Act of the Ontario Legislature in the 60’s that created the university.
    So let’s start with what we must do to meet the needs and demands of our OWNERS, the people of Ontario.
    What is the Vision, and it should be memorable, and applicable for long term?
    The mission should be more measurable to achieve the vision and the Strategy is how we are going to achieve the mission. What is the mission?
    The Mission must also be easily repeated and motivate all and provide measure for all. If one’s efforts do not advance the mission, why are you doing it?
    The Strategy is more specific and warrants reflection on strategic units: front line, academic; and support, finance and facilities for example.
    We need to first establish the vision and mission. Then the how. This document requires significant revision back to the core and memorable tenets of the university. Please spell them out.

  • Anonymous says:

    I want to commend the committee for their work on this process. It is a thankless job, and attempting to please a campus and community as large and diverse as Guelph is a Herculean effort.

    However, I would be remiss not to mention some issues I feel this document contains.

    1- As others have stated, this document does not differentiate the University of Guelph from any other institution. The wording and goals are overwhelmingly pieces that any Ontario institution would want to use to be attractive to the MTCU rather than capturing who we are, where we want to go, and how we will strive to get there. Guelph is different from any other institution and our document should highlight that. We should not be trying to impress the province by making us fit what they want, we should be presenting who we are and demonstrating to the province why our methods are impressive. The analogy I can best compare this to is the child who changes their personality to be liked by the popular kids, rather than that child being who they are and letting the other kids learn to like them for being them.

    2- Administration called this a Strategic Renewal rather than a Strategic Planning Process because they were afraid this would be compared to the PPP. An organization should not act out of fear because it reduces clarity, as I think this document and the comments have demonstrated has occurred. What this document does is present an assortment of ideas, it is not in fact a strategic plan. We do not need specific tasks (as that is an action plan not a strategic plan), but we do need strategic directions and goals (which I do not find fulfilled in this document in an accessible way). I would encourage the university to pause this process and allow an external body to come in and provide guidance on how to use the information that has been provided to revise this document to become more accessible and strategically oriented. The administration (not the renewal team) has left us wanting, and not in a good way. Where I once felt optimistic about this process I now feel discouraged and confused.

    3- The last point I will mention here, and perhaps the most troubling, is that I don’t see a lot of the stakeholders represented in this document. The power of this process should have been the richness that comes from the consultations and input — but instead it has been sanitized into something much less than what it could be. In its attempt to be brief it has eliminated the voice of the people who were meant to be the foundation on which this plan should be built. This is extremely troubling as someone who contributed their voice and sought out others to provide input into this process. I don’t need my voice in the document, but I would like to know that all of the data that was previously collected, and presented in various iterations, would more clearly be embodied here so as to be the voice of the stakeholders not administration (broadly defined to include the renewal committee).

    I don’t make these comments to disparage those who put in tireless effort, but I do think we must take some time before this document is rushed through the approval process. The consultations that happened during the process should happen again in the Fall with this document. It should go through approval after a more satisfying revision and consultation process to make it a strategic plan rather than a strategic ‘renewal’.

  • Anonymous says:

    Of course a “strategic plan” for an institution as large and diverse as this one will end up being vague, concentrating on shared values rather than specific plans for operational change. Why is anyone surprised by this? With the huge number of individual schools, departments, programs and ancillary units, you can’t write a plan for renewal without leaving some units out and making them angry…so you write something like this instead. It was exactly the same problem in 1995, and it will always be like this. I actually thought this document was surprisingly bold in its open recognition of the special responsibilities the institution bears, relating to the missions of its founding colleges. At least the authors didn’t shy away from acknowledging what everyone already knows about Guelph’s special place in the university system. Also, this process was extremely compact compared to what we embarked on under the Strategic Planning Commission in the 1990s. The current administration should be commended for not squandering scarce resources to produce this document, which was guaranteed to turn out more or less like this no matter how many person-hours were consumed in the process.

  • Anonymous says:

    Lots of negative anonymous feedback; which makes sense, have you seen the internet recently…?

    I agree this is needed to be a bureaucratic instrument, as such it will look bad to unreadable. The email asking for input should be a better concise statement of aim. Lots of the feedback is about “what is this”? I understand little of what this document is, how it can be used, or even what did the old one accomplish? How does it accomplish renewal? Can you provide evidence?

    Eight pages isn’t bad but a brief history of each collage? Why is past apart of a “Renewal” document? Is it a recruitment document? Leave that for the brochures or college royal. A good vision would be a selling feature in and of itself. The documents purpose is vague, and likely needs to be to apply broadly across all aspects of student life. How about you give us an example of its use? What changes can this bring? How has it changed from the 1995 vision for the school? Should you even bother changing it, or “it must be out of date” because its 20 years old, and the first years are younger. Can amendment accomplish your goals?

    Please explain, or negative feedback will be what this document and its creators deserve.

  • Anonymous says:

    While I appreciate the time that goes into a strategic renewal process, it would be valuable to see some more concrete areas the University feels it needs to improve on. Something indicative of more self-awareness than ‘the planet and world is changing and so must we’. Where did people say that this university specifically was lacking? Maybe we don’t want to open that door but this document could use a little less fluff.

  • Anonymous says:

    i actually use the new Green Gryphon bike shelter and love it. so please stop hating on it everyone. They needed more bike racks so why no issue making a nice one.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is useless and says nothing. Like other comments have said, this draft could literally belong to any other university. This document needed to be concise, direct and to the point. Using this kind of language and speaking in such nonspecific terms only ensures that your agenda comes across as intentionally vague. It seems like the actual changes being made at the university are not being talked about for fear of a negative response. Overall, this was a failure on many fronts. Suggestions: proofread! This… thing is not that long, yet there are mistakes. Unprofessional. Additionally, put some real content in there. Right now this just looks like a waste of money, time and resources. Even a bulleted, single page list would have been better than what has been presented here. I can’t even critique this further because there is nothing to critique. Inaccessible garbage, try again.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure why the entire road along South Residence is being stripped and replaced at the moment but it seemed perfectly fine to me before construction. I also agree with the comments in regards to the bike shelter/rack. There are many simple things that can be done to fix up the university and provide everyone with benefits.
    – Replace old unusable water fountains with new ones similar to those in Rozanski
    – Replace and restore the functionality of bathrooms where doors and walls either don’t work or are falling apart
    – Replace those awful chairs in MacNaughton lecture halls and other buildings if applicable
    – Construct a new set of lecture halls so that we don’t have to attend them in an outdated theatre

    Those are some points just off the top of my head but I am sure that there are many others to consider. Although it’s nice to be in a university that looks pretty, it is more reasonable to adjust funds towards projects that make it more functional and enjoyable while going through a 4-year program.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with many of the comments on this page that the document seems to be vague and ambiguous. After reading the document, one could still ask the question, ‘so, what does this all really mean in concrete terms?’ And perhaps that was the whole point of this document in the first place, i.e. not to offer concrete particulars, but ‘strategic objectives’, ideals to aspire to, broad themes etc. At any rate, I think it is likely to be unsatisfactory to most. It tends to come across as rather fluffy and lacking in substance. I see nothing inherently wrong with the content of this report or the five strategic themes laid out in the report. Surely, these themes are good in themselves. But of course, students would much rather know HOW such a statement will be accomplished in reality, rather than hearing about an abstract commitment to it. We must agree on what ‘excellence in teaching’ means in reality, so that when the time comes to implement such a strategy everyone is on board with the outcome. If all we do is say ‘we’re committed to excellence in teaching’ but do not collaborate with students and faculty on the actual, concrete outcome that will take place, there runs the risk of the university implementing an outcome which, in their view, satisfies this goal, but in reality is unsatisfactory to students. Now having said all that, if students will be included in the operations plans that are to follow in the fall, then there is perhaps an opportunity to address the concerns I’ve mentioned here.

    Additionally, some students, such as myself, view higher education in a more traditional sense, that is as the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake. To understand ourselves, and the world we live in, to know how to live a good life, to understand and describe the human experience, to understand reality in the most accurate way, and the implications this has for us, etc. To that end, I think the university must focus more on the humanities and the arts because this is what they are about. I find it incredibly disappointing that Guelph does not have a religious studies department. Whether one is religious or not is beside the point. The point is that religion (in all its forms) is an undeniably integral and vital part of the human experience, and to omit the opportunity to learn about this aspect of the human experience only hurts the students at Guelph. In conclusion, I would like to see more focus on the humanities, more focus on teaching and research and less focus on building projects (new athletics center, fancy bike rack etc.).

  • Anonymous says:

    I read the comments posted before I read the document. I found myself agreeing with the comments.
    If this document is to be our guide into the next decade or so, it should tell us first where/what we want to be. Then how we get there, and with what resources? What difficulties do we anticipate and how do we plan to deal with them?
    And yes indeed it can be much much shorter and to the point

  • Anonymous says:

    I came to Guelph 5 years ago, and fell in love with both the campus and city. It breaks my heart to say both have deteriorated so much that I no longer desire to make Guelph a more permanent place of residence. The city has become akin to a GTA suburb, sacrificing beautiful farmland and nature areas to the highest bidder. Council is dysfunctional and no longer focused on anything environmental, and the University has dramatically declined in quality. From adding Starbucks in unnecessary locations at the expense of unique foodstuffs to admitting as many students as it takes to get money, without regard for the quality of students, I no longer feel very proud to declare myself a Gryphon. The curriculum has become a soul-sucking memorization-fest that stifles creative or critical thinking rather than inspiring it. The veterinary college embarrassingly congratulates itself on a fourth place ranking, while increasingly limiting its admissions to robot-like applicants based only on academics, with no regard for personal skills, common sense, communicative ability, etc. It is run extremely unprofessionally and with a shamefully apparent financial motive. I used to think I would live in the Guelph area forever; sadly, I now have almost no reservations in my plan to leave.

  • Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t say anything about how Guelph is unique, it just says that it is.

    Also if this person is correct: (The comment with the smiley face)

    “May 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm
    Anonymous says:
    I doubt very much you need me to rewrite the document.”

    Than the document could be used to justify pretty much any program or for the next 20 years. What? How is that good?

  • Anonymous says:

    I hope this garbage stops at this stage. This does not represent what UoG is. This university is so much more and this document has missed it by a long shot. My biggest issue with this university is demonstrated in this document. Put money back into the programs instead of corporate owners pockets. We pay more and more for tuition yet programs are still constantly being cut. Bring it back to a teaching institution instead of a business.

  • Anonymous says:

    A thorough statement of general purposes for the university.. My particular comment deals with the several areas where the use of technology to deliver learning and research is mentioned. In terms of teaching, there were significant reductions in this area over recent years when TSS and DE were combined resulting in the loss of talent in the DE area. I understand the financial imperatives that governed this but do wonder how this goal can be sustained with the resulting reduced support.

  • Anonymous says:

    With considerable fanfare, the document on strategic renewal has been heralded by the University administration as the document that will chart the course for decision-making for the future. I do not see evidence of this in the document. The draft that has been released does not provide any direction that will help distinguish the university from other institutions of higher learning elsewhere in Canada. The end-result does not paint an exciting vision for the future and certainly does not make a transparent road map for change.

  • Anonymous says:

    Main concern is that this document could be AN OTHER University. Disappointed that we have moved from a highly focused and differentiated institution to one that simply serves the same types of aspirational platitudes that are seen with any other university. This shift is contrary to the directions of government and weakens Guelph’s position in the system. The weakly formulated generalizations, the poorly constructed arguments, the lack of strategic focus and the trite aphorisms do not provide any clear direction for the institution and certainly do not offer a mandate for change and action to meet the pressures of the 21st century. There is little leadership evident in crafting a vision for the future.

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s a very long-winded document. I think where the university continues to fail is community involvement. For example, I took a UNIV1200 seminar that required us to teach science to students in the community – some grade school, some high school, and some at Give Yourself Credit, a local alternative education school for youths who for whatever reason are unable to attend normal highschool. This experience taught me so much about the local community. I think it should be mandatory for all students in first year. Stop focusing on whether or not the project gives the U a kickback and focus on what is creates in young students as well as within the community. Creating mindful, self-aware and philanthropic alumni will do more for the U than any strategic partnership ever could.

    Additionally, frankly most of this document is quite masturbatory. There are several paragraphs that can be removed entirely and would shorten the document. You don’t need to remind everyone of how great we are. We know, that’s why we’re here. Save those paragraphs for your admissions brochures.

  • Anonymous says:

    This strategic plan is akin to an astrology reading and as such could very well apply to most post secondary education institutions across the country. It should be rebranded as a philosophical mandate or reduced to a mission statement. While I appreciate the hours that went into this, I cannot agree with obtuse generalizations and rationalization for them, especially when describing how U.of Guelph will distinguish itself culturally. There lacks reference to the heritage and specialized programs that identifies the university from others. This smacks of a corporate make-work project that will only help to homogenize the school under the growing corporate-influenced universities across our country.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think that this document should have been written in a more simplistic way. Using plain language and writing with clear and concise meaning is important in the corporate world. It’s a shame to see documents like this are still being written so poorly with wordiness used for the sake of wordiness, thinking this appeals to the academic.

    Plain language ensures a clear understanding, provides the necessary information, and does so in a straight forward manner. While I can see the merits in some of the information provided here, this is very poorly written “corporate-speak.”

    Don’t use a $5.00 word where a .50 cent one will do.

  • Anonymous says:

    I doubt very much you need me to rewrite the document. What is important – and is probably missed by many commenters – is to appreciate how this is to be used. It will become the document to which we refer over the next decade as more concrete activities – such as bike shelters 🙂 – are proposed. As a strategic document, it needs to be broad enough to encapsulate the potential range of activities the institution will face in the near and mid-term future. It is not meant to be an implementation document. Some might worry it is not specific enough. I like its structure because I found myself marginalized in the previous documents and every time we wanted to move a new project forward, we had to go through many contortions to be seen to be fitting into the strategic plan. I see this document as more accommodating and an easier fit to guide a wide range of institutional activities. The questions posed under each subject are reasonable ones to be asking about each and every proposal and provide useful guidelines to every group who will be advocating new activities in the future. We need not try to wordsmith the document; everyone will prefer slight variations here and there. But on balance, I think it will be a useful document with which to measure existing and proposed institutional activities.

  • Anonymous says:

    Perhaps consider rewording: “Igniting Teaching, Learning and Inquiry.” While the word ‘igniting’ is a lively and proactive way to articulate passion and inspiration, given that the word is most commonly associated with setting things on fire, I can see the social media lampooning already.

    Motivating, Inspiring, Encouraging, Enlivening, Invigorating, Rousing, Vitalizing?

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with the sentiment on the bike shelter, I would like the Green Gryphon initiative to be spending the collective Student Retrofit Funding on actually retrofitting existing features of campus that are just wasting water or energy. Lets BE a green school, not just look like one. Its demeaning to have the environmental brand hijacked for political purposes by my own institution

  • Anonymous says:

    The bullet points in each of the sections “We will test our plans by asking how will they:” should not end in question marks. The entire construct is a statement, not a question, and, in addition, like the sections above each of these, punctuation at the end of bullet points is generally omitted.

  • Anonymous says:

    Absolutely ridiculous that our tuition has been put towards the creation of such a vague, long-winded, and self promoting document. A simple action plan identifying areas of the university that require additional funding would be far more impactful, and I would venture to guess less costly, than the scripting of whatever this is supposed to be. This document is clearly intended for publicity, and in no way directly helps the students currently enrolled at the university.

  • Anonymous says:

    So much flowery garbage and no actual content, as expected. Trying to read through the ********, it seems like this is a fancy way of saying you are cutting arts and women’s studies. Why don’t you send the students the actual plan instead of this crap.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sounds like positive, self-promoting, corporatespeak. This document says nothing in concrete terms. It is useless.

  • Anonymous says:

    Whatever you do, do not waste my tuition fees on ridiculous projects like the overpriced bike rack that you installed in the center of our Campus. Environmentally-friendly things are essential I agree, but don’t disrespect me by wasting the money I overpay you on unnecessary things.

Comments are closed.