Engaging the Future: Town Hall Feedback

Open Town Hall Meetings were held on September 5 and 7, 2006.  The following is a summary of comments on the draft Strategic Planning Task Force report, Engaging the Future, brought forward by members of the community during the two Town Hall meetings.

Tuesday, September 5

  • Example of engagement in Strategic Plan priorities by units on campus:  McIntosh Gallery is link with broader community and helps integrate Western into the artistic and cultural life of London and the region.
  • Time-line is tight for:  Town Halls -> Task Force reaction -> September Senate; UWOFA is preparing written response to report which should receive consideration.
  • There are opportunities to expand engagement with London through LEDC:  networking to promote career development and placements for students in London.  Publicize early in students’ careers.
  • Academic administrators (Chairs, Associate Deans) need to know role of employee groups and when to engage them in decisions
  • Positive cultural shift in looking at University inclusively:  undergraduate, graduate and research
  • Importance of communication between Faculty of Graduate Studies and other Faculties
  • Outcome-based assessment:  data must be “converted” to useful information to inform rather than drive academic decisions
  • Innovation and risk-taking should be fostered and supported
  • Interaction among Chairs, Directors, Associate Deans should promote exchange of “best practices”
  • Western should think regionally – London and Southwestern Ontario
  • Importance of the London and Sarnia Research Parks
  • Attraction of the City of London strengthens Western’s ability to recruit top faculty, staff and students; contributes to “creative city”
  • USC would like broader engagement in community activities and implementation of the Plan
  • UWOFA interested in faculty complement issues and recruitment, with focus on Probationary/Tenure-stream appointments – lag in appointments process hampers immediate response, but can’t compromise the integrity of the process.  84 positions filled last year; 54 new by July 1; 134 currently in progress – mostly tenure-stream.
  • Portrayal of graduate commitments must acknowledge importance of professional and other Masters programs; must not be seen as secondary to PhD
  • Could consider more selecting graduate funding rather than across-the-board to attract the highest tier of students in a competitive environment.


Thursday, September 7

  • Parking and traffic issues are not specifically addressed in the draft Strategic Plan (NOTE: these will be considered in detail in the Campus Master Plan – see draft recommendation 10.1)
  • Public transit will be important to the future planning at Western to reduce automobile traffic on campus, perhaps involving rapid transit routes with a campus hub
  • The role of the affiliated hospitals and research institutes as collaborators in teaching and research should be acknowledged more forcefully.  They stress the student experience and are essential to Western’s research profile, particularly in the medical and health sciences
  • The range of collaborators could be further broadened to include all who provide placements for students and work with the Western community in teaching and research
  • Internationalization should be stressed at the graduate as well as undergraduate level; it is particularly valuable for Western graduate students to gain international experience as well as increasing the representation of international graduate students here
  • Need to streamline and invest in support services to cope with expansion and current demands
  • The Plan shows great progress in acknowledging concerns and priorities of students, particularly in its advocacy of expanded career services.