Work continues towards Dal's next strategic plan

- November 19, 2019

Left: One of the retreat events from earlier this year focused on the new strategic plan. Right: Provost and current Interim President Teri Balser.
Left: One of the retreat events from earlier this year focused on the new strategic plan. Right: Provost and current Interim President Teri Balser.

Dalhousie’s strategic planning process has entered a new phase this fall, led by self-study teams diving deeper into several priority areas.

The new team-based phase kicked off in late September at a retreat that drew more than 150 staff and faculty members.

Attendees at the gathering had the chance to hear from 11 of the 'learning circle' groups that worked over the summer on priority areas, before then splitting into groups to help shape self-study teams that will drill down into specific topics in the coming months.

“The idea was to work on the charter for those project teams,” says Teri Balser, who shaped the strategic planning process in her capacity as provost and has continued to help lead it while serving as interim president this fall. “What are the key terms, who are the key stakeholders, what kind of data will be needed?”

Drawing on input from earlier phases of the planning process, and the learning circles, eight self-study team topics were identified:

  • research future
  • culture and climate
  • campus health and well-being
  • future of teaching and learning
  • student experience and success
  • sustainability and environmental responsibility
  • internationalization and global engagement
  • Dal purpose and social responsibility.

The teams will work over the next half a year or so to generate high-level recommendations to be shared with incoming Dalhousie President Deep Saini for consideration during our Planning Phase Four: Finalizing.

Engaging the Dal community

The teams will each consist of a faculty and staff co-lead, with additional members drawn from faculty, staff, and students who have expressed an interest. Team leads will work with their team, members of senior leadership and the Office of Planning and Analytics — who will provide administrative and organizational support — to ensure the completion of a final report and recommendations.

Dr. Balser said this type of “grassroots involvement across the university” will help ensure a stronger plan.

“For me, it’s really critical that it is driven by your lived experiences and interests,” she says. “There is no way that any one of us sitting where we sit in the university can have a true understanding of how it is for other people in very different parts of the university.”

Another reason for engaging such a broad range of individuals, says Dr. Balser, is that it helps draw on the deep expertise and knowledge of individuals at the university. Subject matter experts will be identified for each team, with an emphasis placed on coming up with evidence-based, research-driven recommendations.

Building on common goals

She reiterated from a previous retreat in the spring that the university is using a “goal-defined” approach to planning that focuses on coming to agreement on common goals, while acknowledging that there are different ways — depending on your place in the university — to get to those goals.

“We are not reinventing the wheel or throwing out the old plan,” says Dr. Balser, referring to the university’s most recent strategic plan, Inspiration and Impact: Dalhousie Strategic Direction 2014-2018. “We are building from that work: most of the themes we have here are not radically different from the work and the themes that we had from the last five years. We haven’t woken up as a different university; it’s about how we move forward towards those goals.”

If you haven’t yet been engaged in the process but want to contribute to the self-study groups, let us know! Email for more info.


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