Strategic Plan is all about U

The University of Lethbridge is charting a course for the next five years. The map — the 2009-2013 Strategic Plan.

After months of consultation, the final draft of the plan is complete and will be released to the University community at a campus event, Feb. 12. To that end the co-chairs of the planning committee, Dr. Andy Hakin (Vice-President Academic and Provost) and Nancy Walker (Vice-President Finance and Administration), are excited to see the extensive creative process come to a head.

"We're somewhat relieved," says Hakin. "We've been through 18 months of planning and now we're ready to hit the road. We've worked hard to build a document that the University community can get behind and support."

Walker describes the creation of the strategic plan as consultative. The committee looked to get everyone in the University community involved in the drafting process, thereby creating strategic priorities that resonated throughout the U of L.

"Every individual in the institution should be able to see him or herself in the plan," she says. "Every employee, faculty and staff, as well as every student and alumni, we hope that they see something in there where they can contribute to the priorities of the institution."

Strategic planning exercises often get a bad rap. While they are necessary to establish a shared focus on the University's goals, plans often get shelved shortly after their release. This plan has been sculpted in a manner that belies that temptation.

"I think our job really is to make sure the plan is kept in front of people and doesn't get put in the drawer," Hakin says. "What we've created here is not a set of train tracks but a broad road that the community will set the directions for. We've put the framework in place but we expect the community to bring the ideas up and move us forward."

Walker explains that great care was taken to develop a plan that is not rigid and binding but instead adapts to changing circumstance as challenges and opportunities present over time.

"We see this as a flowing document," she says. "It isn't static by any means, we will continue to revise it and work on it. We've left it general enough so that when new opportunities and new ideas pop up, we can take advantage of that."

A total of 26 people from all walks of the University served on the committee that drove the development of the strategic plan. There were also a number of Town Halls where the broader University community was given the opportunity for input into the process. At the end of the day, that is what will keep the plan alive as the University looks to move forward as a unified institution.

"I think if people, in 2013, look back and say 'I was a part of that plan, I helped shape the direction of the University, those were some of my ideas that were acted upon,' I'd be very pleased," says Hakin.

Walker echoes that sentiment, adding it's all about pride in what is the University of Lethbridge experience.

"To me, what I want to hear in 2013 is having students say they were proud to have attended the U of L. Having employees, who are dedicated to the U of L, say they're proud to be an employee of the University of Lethbridge."