University of Calgary Main Campus

What does it take to be a great research university?

We’re on a mission to provide an exceptional student experience and committed support to a world-class faculty.

Great cities – and great societies – are anchored by great research universities.

Universities foster education and learning, growth and innovation, and a sense of community and place. We build an understanding of our world. We create new industries and help existing ones evolve. We improve societies around us. We plan for the long-term – not just for today or next year, but for the decade and century that follow.

Great research universities do not happen by accident. They are the result of talented people working together, sharing a focus on building something more than the sum of its parts. As the University of Calgary looks forward to our next fifty-five years, we’re looking to protect what we’ve built and set our institution on the path for further growth.

We’re strengthening our focus on our community by seeking out deeper and more meaningful partnerships at the individual researcher, faculty and university levels.

We’re strengthening our focus on students and the student experience through expanded offerings and richer experiences.

And we’re strengthening our focus on collaboration through the creation of spaces and incentives for experts across disciplines to come together expand understanding, explore phenomena and tackle the big problems.

Working together, we can build upon and expand the opportunities that already exist at the University of Calgary – building a great university and contributing to a great city and a great society in the process.

Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor

President Ed McCauley

New framework for growth

Grounded in our campus-wide consultations, the Framework for Growth establishes the principles and focuses of the University of Calgary over the coming decade. Now that it is approved, the framework will serve as the formal definition of the University’s intent, provide a common understanding of our approach and set the parameters under which future initiatives for growth will be considered. Individual initiatives for growth must still follow routing and approval stages set out in the University of Calgary’s governance processes.

Approval process


1. The University of Calgary is a broad-based research institution committed to acting for the public interest.

2. The role of a University is to create knowledge and use that knowledge to better the world around us. We do this through: the education of leaders and future scholars in our student body; the groundbreaking research of our faculty; and the supporting/enabling activities of our staff.

3. The framework will be applied within the structure of our approved strategies: Eyes High, ii’taa’poh’to’p, the global engagement plan, the sustainability strategy, the mental health strategy and the Academic and Research Plans.

4. The framework will be applied with consideration of its effect on efforts towards Indigenous reconciliation and equity, diversity, and inclusion.

5. Transdisciplinary excellence is built upon disciplinary excellence. The University reaffirms its commitment to disciplines being the fundamental building blocks of our scholarship.

6. The framework will be applied within, and subject to the limits of, the University of Calgary’s governance processes.


7. The University recognizes the need to support current and future students on their learning journey and will continue to develop stackable credentials and personalized learning trajectories, along with opportunities for experiential and work-integrated learning. This will position the University as a leading institution for continuing and life-long learning.

8. The University will expand resources available to support to faculty in developing programming for new modalities and new programs.

9. The University will work more closely with our community – businesses, governments, non-profits and individuals – in the development and ongoing maintenance of curricula.


10. The University will seek to establish deeper institution-level partnerships within our community (businesses, governments and non-profits). These partnerships must be mutually beneficial, ethically sound and respect all academic freedoms.

11. The University will foster and expand support for faculty to establish partnerships that enhance their scholarship, and to scale and promote their scientific, technological, commercial and social innovations. 


12. Building on our foundation of outstanding disciplinary scholarship, the University will encourage and support a transdisciplinary approach to our scholarship.  

13.The transdisciplinary activity will be catalyzed through the creation of Areas of Focus that enhance connections among our campus community. Transdisciplinary Areas of Focus will provide opportunities to collaboratively address global challenges.  


14. The University will identify Areas of Focus. The scholarly vision for each area will be shaped over time by our community. 

15. Initial Areas of Focus will be:

  •       Cities and communities
  •       Democracy and social change  (still to be finalized)
  •       Digital worlds
  •       Energy transformation
  •       Health and life


Initiatives for growth


Developing a partnership playbook

Partnerships between the University of Calgary and industries, non-profits or governments must be mutually beneficial, ethically sound and respect all academic freedoms. A “partnership playbook” will define the rules and recommend best practices for establishing partnerships – from the small to the institution-wide.

Working together

Supporting transdisciplinary activity

Together, we are more than the sum of our parts. The University of Calgary must create spaces, resources, incentives and processes for faculty with disciplinary excellence to come together, engage our students and with support from our staff solve society’s biggest problems. These processes will reflect the democratic nature of a post-secondary institution and put the professoriate in the driver’s seat.

Computer science student

Support for online learning

As the University of Calgary engaged in increased delivery of online learning, new opportunities and new challenges will present themselves. The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is expanding support for the development of online-optimized courses and building a common core of basic concepts that can be shared among classes.

Veterinary Medicine

Expanding Work-Integrated Learning

Integrating with our community – industries, non-profits, governments – increases the relevance of our teaching and research. By providing learning opportunities that directly tie to real-world activities, we strengthen the value of a University of Calgary degree and strengthen our bonds with the greater community.

Past activity

Past activity

Over two weeks in February and March 2021, 340 people participated in Congress and many more completed online surveys. Congress heard from each of the working groups, and engaged in constructive, sometimes spirited, discussion about the latest recommendations. There was broad support for Growth Through Focus, although some in the community didn’t see their work in the strategy and we committed to making it more inclusive.

Congress website
Report on Transdisciplinary Scholarship and Areas of Focus
Report on Future-Focused Program Delivery
Report on Deeper Community Partnerships
What We Heard report

By the fall of 2020, we’d incorporated the hard work done by our task teams, revised Growth Through Focus to incorporate their insights and released the latest version of the strategy. In addition to the four pillars, it included three big ideas: transdisciplinary research, bold approaches to community partnerships, and future-focused program delivery.

Unstoppable website
October 13, 2020 Town Hall slides

When we released the outlines of Growth Through Focus, we proposed four pillars to support the strategy. And over the summer of 2020, task teams got down to work fleshing out these concepts with greater detail and clarity in preparation.

Concurrent with the first release of Growth Through Focus, we began a survey of the University community in early summer 2020. More than 1,300 people participated, and most of them thought the main elements of Growth Through Focus were about right. There were particularly high levels of support for UCalgary aspiring to be a top-five research university and contribute to local economic growth.

By June 2020, UCalgary’s realities—and the world’s—had changed. We were three months into a global pandemic and the details of provincial funding reductions were known. UCalgary had a clear imperative to change, so we could help Calgary and Alberta pivot towards a more diversified and growing economy. The broad outlines of how we’d do that were released. We were going to achieve Growth Through Focus, and the work began on how to get the plan right. Given the changing environment we identified the need to future-proof our university so that with our community, we can chart our destiny.

Growth Through Focus June Presentation

Our journey began in April 2019 with a listening tour that lasted almost a year. There were conversations with the President, faculty council meetings, a Board of Governors retreat, and more. We also consulted beyond the University community, with governments, businesses, and community leaders about the benefits of a great research university and how UCalgary could make an even bigger impact in our hometown than we already were.