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Leaders’ Forum: University and Community Dialogue: Collaborating for Mutual Success

March 4, 2010, Views and Ideas from the Small Group Dialogues

2. What can we do, collaboratively, to increase the prosperity of our London and regional community (e.g. quality of life, access to employment)?

Develop New Employment Ventures

  • Prosperity generally follows population size and growth rates; to grow or help our population prosper, there must be opportunities.
  • Initiate more inclusive dialogue between Western and city government – even the City can’t agree on whether we want to develop or not.
  • Establish a think tank on ways to make London an “employment destination”.
  • Make increasing collaborations between Western and the city/region part of our core business; connect London and Western around social entrepreneurship.
  • London and region is full of the “best kept secrets” that need to be more well-known.
  • Share infrastructure and people’s talents.
  • Work with Ivey – develop new business incubator initiatives.
  • We need to do a better job over all in attracting a more diverse base of industries to enhance job opportunities for the kind of people that we would hope to attract to London.
  • Need to look at our traditional approach to intellectual property. Waterloo, for example, does things differently; our new agreement will help but we may want to look at more improvements.
  • Support WORLDiscoveries to turn research into commercialized initiatives. - Attract industry to link to research – deal with patent issues.
  • Direct more resources to economic development, venture capitalism, etc.

Help Students become Employment-Ready

  • Cultivate ties with industry – creates jobs.
  • Consider non-standard modes of education; look for new, exciting opportunities – not a standard education, but co-op education instead.
  • Foster entrepreneurship in high schools.
  • Make it clear that Western has several co-op programs – get the message out there.
  • Increase partnerships and internships: Western could expand co-op and internships programs, but we need the placement opportunities. Better communicate these opportunities.
  • Look at central coordination of co-op or summer work opportunities within the city; students participating in these experiences are more likely to stay around after graduation.
  • Increase communication of employment opportunities between Western and the community.
  • Focus the resources in the internship office to assist with seeking out jobs (LEDC link to expand information to the community).
  • Figure out how to keep up the flow of computer engineers from education to business; North America is losing computer engineering jobs to China. But there are major technology employers in Kitchener-Waterloo. Capitalize on all-over opportunities here – again, teach ourselves about world-class companies in London (e.g. Trudell, but many more).
  • 90 per cent of Fanshawe graduates have a job in 6 months. Fanshawe adjusts enrolment levels according to where job opportunities are – the real edge that community colleges have is that they work with employers to establish or modify programs.
  • The Faculty of Arts & Humanities should do more work with employers to encourage them and educate them about their graduates’ abilities and potential—the way the Research Park did (took fourth-year chemistry and biochemistry students to Sarnia where they delivered science presentations to plant executives to show how employable the students are right out of school).
  • Connect students with City engineers. - Have showcases hosted by Arts & Humanities, FIMS (Science contributes to Science Research Showcase); use major industries as a platform.
  • Build a better City understanding of Fanshawe and Western and what they do and can do to help match graduates to jobs here—once the jobs are created.

Increase Ambassadorship

  • Tap the London “community voice” – where we can help, what opportunities are available for students, matching of faculties and specific organizations, what type of relationship with the community does our faculty value and what works for us?
  • Use “smart, knowledgeable community” umbrella to market London and region.
  • Since we are all ambassadors of the University – we should also know our community and promote our community whenever we travel or have visitors.
  • We all need to know the community’s “capacity” and Western’s capacity.
  • The first point of contact at the university is parking asking for a large deposit. - Make Western a destination (e.g. Calgary’s Campus Fair).
  • “Campus is for students only” – this is what the community thinks we are all about. This is negative publicity. We need to crash that stereotype.
  • Innovation Park – is far out in “no man’s land” – put a dental/medical clinic there.
  • “Doors Open” is successful – let’s do more tours of the campus.
  • Hold a “London Meets Western” Week.
  • Revamp the Ambassador London Program - initiative and thinking.

Improve London’s Infrastructure to Attract Business

  • London needs to have pride in the University – not just those (businesses and organizations) who are associated specifically with Western.
  • “A first-class University needs to be associated with a first-class city.”
  • Develop a high speed train system. - Build up the downtown.
  • Put more opportunities within walking distance of Western.
  • Put a Faculty downtown.
  • Collaborate with the city to build up a block and create “Western Way” shopping district – need tangible symbols.
  • Deal with our aging infrastructure to showcase the new Research Park; increase/improve access to the University – get rid of bottlenecks (the University did help with the Western Road rebuild).
  • Outside business has no idea how to get into Western at all – consider how to open the gates of campus.
  • We need a good path from Veteran’s Memorial Parkway to the Research Park – like Kitchener expressway, Guelph, Hamilton expressway; should find a way to travel visitors through the City centre quickly; visitors to Research Park are often late – it’s embarrassing. Our travel paths prevent students from visiting throughout London.
  • Change the signage at Western’s Information Booths; the entrances are not staffed “Closed for biz” [NOTE: Western’s Visitor Information Booths are open Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These hours represent the time period when the vast majority of interactions occur. The booths also have extended/weekend hours during periods when large numbers of campus visitors are expected. Such as Spring/Fall Convocations, Fall Preview Day, and March Break Open House.]
  • Put a big sign on the 401—pointing to Western.



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