Ambitions described as ‘realistic and attainable’ despite economic downturn
By Pascal Zamprelli
Principal Heather Munroe-Blum used the most recent Senate meeting to present an ambitious set of priorities and an action plan for the next four years.
The Principal’s Priorities and Action Plan proposes six priorities for McGill, along with a set of planned actions for implementation, and lays out both short- and long-term markers for success. The plan is based on four specific initiatives: the strategic academic plan presented by the Provost in 2006; the recommendations and priorities that emerged from the Principal’s Task Force on Student Life and Learning; our developed Campus Master Plans; and the priorities represented in these, principally related to people and programs, comprising the goals for our Campaign McGill.
Priority One – advancing McGill’s academic and research excellence and profile nationally and internationally. This sets out ways for McGill to build on its unique strengths and has as one of its long-term goals the full implementation of recommendations from the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement established in May.
Priority Two – achieving a sustained focus on advancing Student Life and Learning. This focuses on enhancing the experience of students and includes plans for improvements to advising as well as an integrated student services area.
Priority Three – raising further McGill’s external visibility, impact and reputation. This establishes a plan for reaching out to the university’s partners and stakeholders through, for example, leadership on public policy initiatives and promotional strategies for recruitment.
The ambitions in the plan are described as “both realistic and attainable in the context of the current environment,” a reference to the constrained economic reality affecting bottom lines the world over.
For example, Priority Four – diversifying and optimizing financial resources to achieve sustainability – is described as an effort to identify and pursue opportunities with the greatest potential for growth, consistent with the University’s mission. “The more diversified our revenue sources,” Prof. Munroe-Blum said,” the better we can represent the university’s interests.”
The Principal at times struck an optimistic chord despite that fiscal reality. For example, when discussing Priority Five – managing our organizational assets for maximum impact – she said “there is no question that in an economic downturn, there’s an opportunity,” suggesting it can prompt McGill to find ways to “use our dollars more wisely, reduce bureaucracy, and make things simpler.”
Finally, Priority Six – demonstrating effective governance and broad accountability to our stakeholders – seeks to ensure strong governance and stresses accountability to McGill’s various stakeholders. “The absolute best way for us to stave off others intruding on our autonomy,” Prof. Munroe-Blum said, “is to know what we’re doing, to do it well, and to be transparent and accountable.”