Reaffirming a commitment to students, faculty and the greater Westman community, Brandon University has shared details on the work underway on its strategic plan.
During the Brandon University Board of Governors meeting on Saturday, president David Docherty said he hopes to have the finalized strategic plan presented at the board’s meeting in November.
A major goal of BU’s strategic plan includes working to increase student graduation and retention rates. The strategy to achieve this aim involves helping students financially through scholarships and bursaries, promoting mental health and wellness and supporting Indigenous students. The post-secondary institution is also looking to introduce a strategic enrolment management system and recruiting domestic students to increase graduation cohorts and classes.
Docherty added the university is exploring ways to increase student presence on campus after hours by creating spaces for gatherings.
“If there was one thing that really came through no matter which group we were talking to — students, alumni, faculty, members of the community — it would be that we have a wonderful campus, but we do lack some kinds of space that would facilitate some kind of greater after-hours activities for our students … for our faculty and our community,” Docherty said. He added it would take time to establish the infrastructure to support building after-class gathering spaces for community members.
Docherty highlighted the importance of Truth and Reconciliation at BU, and the post-secondary’s commitment to engaging and ensuring Indigenous populations are part of the student body, faculty and greater community. As part of this goal, BU is exploring whether a separate Indigenous strategic plan should be created.
He added if an Indigenous strategic plan was created for BU, the institution’s strategic plan would remain in place as a separate document. The focus of an Indigenous strategic plan would be exploring different ways to recruit Indigenous students, ensure they feel welcome on campus and any specific supports that should be in place.
Docherty added the biggest challenges facing the university in the next 10 to 15 years include Truth and Reconciliation, mental wellness and equity, diversity and inclusion.
“If we don’t do a good job tackling that. If we don’t do a good job facing that challenge then we will have failed as an institution,” Docherty said.
He said the BU strategic plan has been in development for some time, but experienced delays due to COVID-19.
Work has continued on the document during the pandemic, Docherty said, and a clear vision has emerged for BU to become Canada’s finest regional university. He said this is possible because the school serves as a critical economic, social, educational and cultural driver in the region.
BU faces some challenges moving forward — including the relevance of university-level education and programs, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Docherty said the last difficulty is the fiscal, environmental and social sustainability of the institution.
As the strategic plan develops, he said, establishing measurements for goals will be needed and establishing a baseline for these analyses will be essential. Once measurements are established, they will help guide how to align goals, what goals can be moved forward quickly and what areas will require more resources.
“We are making sure the strategic plan is set up for us to be successful,” Docherty said.
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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun