Sept. 22, 2020

Growth Through Focus update

Message to campus community

Updated on Oct. 8, 2020: Register for the Growth Through Focus online town hall on Oct. 13

At the start of the summer I shared with you a proposal for how the University could evolve to maintain the ambitions outlined in Eyes High in the face of COVID-19, an economic downturn, budget cuts and dramatic technological and sociological changes affecting teaching, learning and research.

This proposal, Growth through Focus, was first presented in June. It outlined actions that would give us a distinct brand, make us a destination for students and scholars and future-proof our finances. When I shared the proposal I also shared a timeline to develop it further over the summer. That timeline saw us presenting a more developed plan and working it through the university’s governance processes — as necessary — this fall and beyond.

I am writing today to give you an update on this work and invite you to a conversation with executive leadership team (ELT) on next steps. That conversation will take place Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. Watch the livestream here 

I hope you’ll mark your calendars and join us.

Update on the survey

Part of our summer plans involved asking the university community for their instant reactions to the proposal. Over 1,300 people responded to this short questionnaire.

While opinions were diverse, respondents were generally supportive. They brought up concerns (such as what the proposal meant for people, academic freedom and our commitments to EDI), questions (such as how the concept of “industrial partnerships” applies in the liberal arts) and suggestions (such as offering faculty and staff training in entrepreneurial thinking). This feedback was used to help guide further development as we moved from proposal to plan over the summer. 

A full summary of GtF survey results, including summaries of themes that came up in response to open-ended questions, can be found here

Update on activities since the town hall

Another major stream of activity was ELT-led task teams working over the summer to dig deeper into seven areas that support the proposal. These task teams examined the evidence and data. They explored experience of other institutions in other jurisdictions for inspiration and cautionary tales. They gathered feedback and synthesized what they learned into options for consideration.

This additional analysis informed ELT’s thinking about individual aspects of the plan. The strategic options the task teams provided allowed further development of the overall proposal and refinement of individual elements.

As well, over the past two months I have met with the University Senate, the Alumni Board, the executive of both the Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Association, along with several external community partners and government officials. Their feedback was added to the survey responses and work of the task team to create an updated Growth Through Focus plan that was shared with the Senior Leadership Team and Board of Governors last week and will be shared with GFC on Oct. 8. 

Next steps

Following GFC, we will be holding a town hall on Oct. 13 to discuss where we go from here. Register for the online town hall and watch the livestream. 

This town hall will be a continuation, not the conclusion, of a conversation about our path forward: how to secure our future in extremely uncertain times. The imperatives for change we highlighted in June have not lessened and time is of the essence. Our town hall will launch a series of discussions on what moves forward, how it moves forward and on what timeline. These conversations will occur among ourselves as a university community but also with our friends and neighbours in our city and in our province.

More details on how you can get involved will be shared at the town hall.

I am excited to move this plan forward with you. I hope you’ll “save the date,” and I look forward to sharing details on Oct. 13.


Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Calgary