Engaging the Future

Final Report of the Task Force on Strategic Planning

The following document was approved by Senate in October 2006 (Senate amendments to the June 2006 Draft Report are denoted by bold/italics type) and by the Board of Governors on November 23, 2006.

1. Setting Directions


This Strategic Plan focusses Western's energy in three key areas:

  • Enhancing the best student experience among Canada's leading research universities through a culture of self-discovery and student engagement that acknowledges the learning process within and beyond the classroom.
  • Expanding and enriching the experience of graduate students in an environment supportive of academic, professional and personal growth.
  • Building the research university through strategic investment in areas of established and emerging research strength, as identified in the Faculty Academic Plans and the University's Research Plan. Western's aspirations in research will be realized through attention to faculty recruitment and retention, recruitment of postdoctoral fellows, emphasis on graduate programs and enrollment, and construction and renovation of appropriate space.

Achieving these objectives will require the University to redefine the student experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, to renew our commitment to research and discovery, and to focus on our University community's potential, aspirations, and goals. In moving forward, Western will develop strategic approaches to the following general themes:

  • Defining the University as a place welcoming and conducive to scholarship and work in all their manifestations, acknowledging the roles of all in the University community, supporting opportunities for development and fulfillment for all at Western, and celebrating our campus as a setting for learning in its broadest sense.
  • Promoting interdisciplinary and pan-University initiatives in scholarship and teaching by fostering and investing in activities that cross or transcend established academic disciplines and create new areas of scholarship.
  • Realizing our aspirations as an international centre of academic excellence by creating opportunities for international student and faculty recruitment, exchanges, curriculum, collaborative research, outreach and development activities in targeted areas and in collaboration with selected institutions and organizations.

“It is central to Western’s identity that the best student experience takes place in the context of a major international research university.”

Surveys of our graduates have consistently shown that Western students believe their experience here has provided the strong foundation for a successful life. We believe Western is a national leader in responding to student aspirations in the classroom with challenging, innovative, and high-quality academic programs. In addition the Western environment actively fosters opportunities for personal and intellectual growth, including the development of ethical standards and values as well as a commitment to engagement within the University community and beyond.

Western graduates are known as thoughtful and involved public citizens, whose experience here has laid the groundwork for effective, productive, and satisfying lives as members of society.

It is central to Western's identity that the best student experience takes place in the context of a major international research university. The presence of outstanding researchers and research programs is essential in attracting potential faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and post-doctoral fellows. In an increasingly competitive environment, Western's strategic research initiatives must be correlated with strong recruitment and retention efforts on an international level and with the academic plans of Departments, Schools, and Faculties. We embrace interdisciplinarity as a hallmark of established and emerging research in many areas but also acknowledge and respect the paramount importance of work by individual scholars within the traditional disciplines.

A significant part of Western's strength derives from our closest institutional partnerships. Our three affiliated University Colleges, Brescia, Huron, and King's, contribute to the richness and diversity of our educational environment by combining the values and intimacy of Liberal Arts Colleges, each with its own institutional identity, with the resources and academic opportunities of a broad, research-intensive university. London has become a national and international centre for pioneering education, research, and clinical practice in health care, due in large measure to the collaborative interaction with our affiliated research institutes and teaching hospitals. The Robarts Research Institute, Lawson Health Research Institute, the London Health Sciences Centre, and St. Joseph's Health Care comprise a research and teaching constellation united by Western faculty and characterized by the highest levels of achievement and engagement with the community.

Evaluating the quality of the student experience involves a wide variety of factors, and Western's relative performance will vary among them. The best student experience must therefore be seen as a journey, not a destination, an aspiration with regard to our service to students which requires the continuing commitment of all in our community.

As a Strategic Plan, our document builds on the mission and vision of academic leadership set out in Leadership in Learning (1995) and the strategic directions articulated in Making Choices (2001). Our discussion will be informed by the twelve principles at the heart of our institutional self-definition, initially articulated in Leadership in Learning and adopted again in Making Choices. We believe these principles have served the University well for more than a decade and reaffirm them in this report.

Our Commitments:

  1. Western is committed to a mission and to principles that will build excellence and create an environment where our students, faculty, and staff can grow and flourish. Our university community will:

1.1 - Adopt as our formal Mission: "Western provides the best student experience among Canada's leading research-intensive universities."

1.2 - Adhere to the following twelve enduring principles as individuals and as a community:

  • Excellence: we aspire in our teaching and research to academic excellence that is recognized nationally and internationally. We set high standards for the recruitment and performance of our faculty, staff and students.
  • Selectivity: we will identify our academic and research strengths and build on them with selective allocation of resources.
  • Education for Leadership: we are committed to a culture of achievement, which ensures that Western graduates are prepared to become leaders of their society. We seek to create an environment in which students are grounded in the values and responsibilities of the scholarly life.
  • Academic Freedom: we will protect the right of all in our academic community to speak and write freely. We expect all who study, teach and do research at Western to uphold the highest ideals of scholarly responsibility.
  • Western's People: we value and support all who work and study at Western and seek to create an environment in which they can aspire to excellence and succeed. The realization of our academic objectives depends on Western's people.
  • Diversity: as part of our commitment to excellence, we seek to recognize and remove the obstacles faced by traditionally under-represented groups in order to facilitate their access to and advancement at Western. We respect and celebrate the diversity of people who make up our community.
  • Societal Responsibility: through our teaching, research and service to the community, we aspire to play a significant role in improving the quality of life and fostering economic development in London and this region, in the Province of Ontario, in Canada, and abroad.
  • Accountability: we are accountable to our students and the general public for
    the quality of our teaching, research and service to the community and for the
    effective use of our resources.
  • Autonomy: we will protect Western's autonomy so that the University, through the Senate and Board, can identify academic priorities and set directions in support of its mission.
  • Innovation: we are committed to fostering an environment that encourages creativity and risk-taking on the part of faculty, staff, and students and that is responsive to new academic opportunities in areas of potential excellence.
  • Partnerships: we seek cooperative relationships with other academic institutions, businesses, charitable organizations, and governments at home and abroad to enhance and support the educational and research opportunities available at Western, and to bring mutual benefit to the University and its partners.
  • Openness: we are committed to an environment of fairness, broad participation, and openness in which information is widely shared and the processes for decision-making are understood and respected.

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