Docherty reveals details on school's new strategic plan

DochertyMount Royal University President David Docherty stepped up to the podium in Ross Glen Hall to deliver his annual fall address on Aug. 26 and much of his 40-minute speech was made up of good news, certainly more than his 2013 address when MRU — like many post-secondary institutions across Alberta — was reeling from provincial budget cuts.

One of the positive things Docherty mentioned was the encouraging conversations he has had with Progressive Conservative leadership candidates, specifically Jim Prentice, about how funding could be restored to MRU's operating budget. Prentice recently vowed to restore the post-secondary funding lost in the 2013 budget.

"I indicated to him that I thought this was good news," said Docherty. "I indicated to him that I thought that simply returning it (the funding) isn't going to solve the larger issues. I also explained to him that it is also important how it is returned.

"It was a very good conversation where he actually asked for more information. My comment to him was, 'That's great. Returning the monies is great. Making sure the universities have autonomy is great. Working with partners is great, but what happens when (students) graduate after Grade 12? They end up going to the University of Regina.' That's the issue." Docherty is referring to a trend which has seen Alberta secondary school students pursue post-secondary studies out-of-province

Other developments that Docherty touched on as part of his speech included:MRUMemorialGardenThe Dr. John H. Garden Memorial Park certainly contributed to Mount Royal being recognized by the Huffington Post for having one of the most beautiful campuses in all of Canada.

Photo by Quinton Amundson

•The groundbreaking for MRU's Riddell Library and Learning Centre, a facility that will be four times larger than the school's current library. It is scheduled to open in 2017.
•The Aug. 25 re-opening of the Herb n' Market food court. Docherty mentioned that in 2009, a Maclean's magazine article stated that "the discerning eater can do well at the Herb'n Market food court."
•Mount Royal University being lauded by the Huffington Post for having one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada.
•The university will once again be taking part in the annual Calgary Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 31.
•The school will be hosting the 2014 Under Western Skies conference from Sept. 9-12. This is a biennial interdisciplinary conference where issues concerning the environment are discussed.
•The school will be hiring a sustainability officer to assist its bid in being more sustainable and efficient.
•Fall convocation is taking place on Friday, Nov. 7.

Unveiling details on a new strategic plan

MRURiddellLibraryMRU president Docherty stated that the Aug.19 groundbreaking for the Riddell Library and Learning Centre—scheduled to open in early 2017—was one of the positive developments at the university in the past year.

Photo courtesy of Mount Royal University
While the full version of MRU's 10-year strategic plan won't be released until after the annual board of governors' retreat later in September, significant details emerged on what the plan consists of.

Part of the plan is a new vision statement that states: "To become the campus university of choice for those seeking and supporting an unparalleled undergraduate experience."

Docherty said "undergraduate" is the key word.

"We have lost too many good undergraduate universities who got caught up in graduate teaching," says Docherty. "Providing an unparalleled undergraduate experience will be increasingly unique in Canadian post-secondary education. In some jurisdictions it is hard to distinguish a lot of mid-size universities lose its uniqueness because of pursuing graduate studies and research."

Another aspect of the plan is the university's core values, which include:

•Citizenship
•Diverity and inclusiveness
•Integrity and transparency
•University autonomy
•Academic freedom
•Mutual respect
•Pursuit and application of knowledge

The plan will also include details on the three foundations that will help officials deal with members of the university community. They are:

•Engage students for both academic and future success
•Engage faculty, staff and management to create a thriving learning environment.
•Engage wider community for collaborative learning and scholarship.

The draft of the plan presented at the address was the product of over 40 stakeholder consultations, including hundreds of participants ranging from students, professors, staff members, and community members.

Docherty says more consultation sessions will take place before the final plan is released.

Fall semester at MRU begins on Thursday, Sept. 4.

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