Message from the President
Among several institutional achievements that gave us reason to celebrate in 2007, four in particular demonstrated the strength of our campus community’s commitment to Western’s mission of providing the best student experience among Canada’s leading research-intensive universities.
When Robarts Research Institute approached us in 2006 to explore the possibility of joining Western, we entered into consultations with two closely related goals in mind. First, we wanted to ensure the long-term financial stability of one of Canada’s leading research institutions, with which Western has been closely associated since 1986 when Robarts was founded. Robarts’ scientists – often in partnership with Western faculty and students – conduct critically important biomedical research that benefits people the world over, bringing international profile to London and our campus community. Western researchers also benefit enormously from having access to the world-class facilities available at Robarts in areas such as DNA sequencing, MRI and genomics, to name but a few.
Second, given its international reputation for excellence in biomedical science, Robarts plays a critical role in advancing Western’s research mission. The brilliant scientific minds and outstanding research funding that Robarts attracts to our campus community are essential to strengthening Western’s position as one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities. After months of hard work by dedicated faculty and staff at Robarts and the University, we were pleased to welcome Robarts scientists and staff to the Western family when our two institutions were officially merged in July.
By the end of our fiscal year (April 30), we were able to celebrate another achievement, having reached our three year fundraising goal of $127 million (2004-2007). Last year alone, thanks to the generosity of alumni, corporations, foundations and other friends of the University, Western raised more than $51 million in private support, setting a benchmark for even more ambitious targets in the future. Looking ahead, Western aims to raise $60 million in fiscal 2007/08 as we enter the first phase of our next major fundraising campaign covering the period May 1, 2007 to April 30, 2013. Currently, we are in the process of identifying our next round of campaign priorities, recruiting volunteer leadership, consulting with past and prospective supporters, establishing financial targets, and soliciting early lead gifts.
One of the priorities of all three of our University Strategic plans – those of 1995, 2001, and 2006 – has been a significant increase in enrolment at the Masters and doctoral levels. I am happy to report that through the hard work of faculty and staff we have been fulfilling that objective. From 1996 to 2006, doctoral enrolment more than doubled and Masters enrolment increased by 41 per cent. Our target for the decade beginning in 2006 is to double doctoral enrolment again, and increase Masters enrolment by 50 per cent. The McGuinty Government’s Reaching Higher Plan has given great support for our efforts by providing significantly increased funding for graduate students. Over the last two years our Masters enrolment is up 11 per cent to 2,547, and our doctoral enrolment is up 23 per cent to 1,516. And we are planning for continued strong growth going forward, as part of our mission to be a leading researchintensive university. There is a strong demand for our graduates, who contribute to society and the economy in the public and private sectors.
And for the sixth consecutive year, Western once again received the highest grades of any large Canadian university in the Globe and Mail’s annual University Report Card published in October. This year’s survey reflected the opinions of more than 43,000 students at 53 universities – the largest sample group yet. Asked to rate their schools on 78 measures, students ranked Western first overall in 33 categories.
The consistency of the results we continue to see from student satisfaction surveys reinforces our belief that there is something genuinely special about Western’s campus community – it is a truly unique place to study and learn, all thanks to the contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. As one higher education commentator told the Globe and Mail:
“Western is the one large school that is managing to balance both student engagement and research. That’s tough to do.”
Thank you to our Board of Governors, faculty, staff, students and alumni for their ongoing commitment to our mission and for making this another tremendous year for Western.
Dr. Paul Davenport
President and Vice-Chancellor