Progress being made as Strategic Plan heads into third year

Brock University is on the path to meeting the goals set out in its Institutional Strategic Plan launched two years ago, but there’s more work to be done.

That was the message Friday, Sept. 25 in the first of a series of online Town Hall meetings being held to update the Brock community on the progress being made on its Strategic Plan, which runs from 2018 to 2025.

Brock President Gervan Fearon called the meetings “an opportunity for us to check in and take a bit of a gauge for how we’re doing so far.”

“The Strategic Plan serves as a road map and guide for advancing the goals and the direction of the University as a whole,” he said. “It’s important for every member of the University community to engage in the activities of the Strategic Plan. By collectively working together, we advance the University and advance the role and activities defined by the Strategic Plan.”

Friday’s Town Hall focused on two of the four strategic priorities:

  • Offering a transformational and accessible academic and university experience
  • Building research capacity across the University

After remarks from the President, Provost and Vice-President, Academic Lynn Wells gave an update on enrolment and the University’s academic progress.

Wells pointed to the Maclean’s rankings, last year’s record enrolment, Brock’s ongoing reputation for experience excellence, new academic programming such as the minor in Engineering Science and faculty excellence and awards as some of its key strengths over the past few years.

Looking ahead, she said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges that will require the effort of the entire University to overcome.

“The enrolment situation this year has shifted our five-year enrolment forecast, which under the Strategic Plan predicted strong and steady growth,” said Wells, who joined the University in her role on July 1. “We will be putting in place a number of strategies to help address these concerns.”

She said the key priorities for her office will include:

  • Ensuring new and existing programs align with student demand
  • Reinforcing student supports, including academic advising, to support student retention
  • Increasing accessibility of part-time, extended and professional studies
  • A new registration category for ‘casual students’ not seeking a credential
  • An enhanced winter admission cycle

“This is not the time to put aside the Strategic Plan, but to return to the plan and make sure it guides us,” she said.

Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon gave an update on Brock’s target of building research capacity.

“Fulfilling the Strategic Plan is something all faculty members do, all staff do, all students do – graduate students, post-docs,” he said. “It’s a collective project and you really can see the outstanding job researchers are doing in making good on these aspirations.”

Kenyon said Brock is making progress across each of the goals that fall within the strategic priority of “Building research capacity across the University.”

The four goals include:

  • Nurture a culture of research and creative excellence
  • Invest in research infrastructure and support to ensure sustainable and accessible research services for the Brock scholarly community
  • Build awareness of Brock University as a centre of research excellence
  • Enhance transdisciplinary research and high-impact research practices

Looking ahead to the coming months, Kenyon said his goals will be to:

  • Seek implementations of the Institutional Strategic Plan while responding to pandemic conditions
  • Complete the appointments and nominations of open Canada Research Chair (CRC) positions and prepare for next CRC recruitments
  • Focus on the promotion of Brock research and its reputation using a variety of traditional and non-traditional media outlets

“Are we done? Have we got where we need to get? Absolutely not,” said Kenyon. “But if the question is, ‘Is it a priority?’ I would say what the successes show is that it is a priority. If we look at that graph and consider the sharp increase in the last two to three years of internal supports for researchers, it’s a stark demonstration of an institutional commitment to research.”

Collectively, Fearon, Wells and Kenyon thanked everyone who took part in the Town Hall and the ongoing efforts of the entire Brock community to help the University advance during the ongoing pandemic.

The second Town Hall meeting on the Strategic Plan is scheduled for April 2021, where the following strategic priorities will be discussed:

  • Enhance the life and vitality of our local region and beyond
  • Foster a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization

In addition, two other Town Hall meetings are planned for later this fall and winter to provide an update on the financial health of the University.

A video from Friday’s Town Hall is available here.

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