President rolls out priorities in uncertain climate

This year’s President’s Priorities face a bit of uncertainty, following the recent resignation of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier this month.

Each September, Western president Amit Chakma outlines his priorities for the coming year, with the aim of strengthening the university’s mission as a research-intensive institution.

“It’s always a challenge, but once I go through it, I feel it’s a good exercise,” Chakma told Senate Friday. “It forces you to think about the priorities you make.”

He added, “the instability we see at Queen’s Park” would continue to be an obstacle in managing a solid relationship. Over the last three months, Chakma said he has spent more time on Queen’s Park-related matters than he did over the previous three years.

Another ramification from the unsettlement in Toronto, according to Chakma, is the fiscal situation of Western and other postsecondary institutions.

“The short answer is we don’t know, but that’s not really a good way of thinking. We recognize we don’t know, but we must anticipate these future challenges and difficulties make sure we can get through those the best we can,” he said.

Senate and Board of Governors have approved the following priorities:

  • Engage members of the campus community in shaping Western’s future through the next Strategic Planning process;
  • Monitor and contribute to Ontario’s postsecondary education policy discussions, while anticipating and managing the impact of policy shifts that may emerge;
  • Review and manage resource allocation and utilization in light of the changing fiscal and education policy environment, while pursuing income diversification strategies;
  • Continue to build, strengthen and expand academic programming, research and scholarship in Western’s signature areas;
  • Continue raising the quality of Western’s entering class at the undergraduate level;
  • Promote research intensity and scholarship through continued graduate program expansion, with special focus on course-based masters programs;
  • Continue strengthening Western’s internationalization efforts;
  • Continue pursuing Western’s fundraising campaign objectives;
  • Complete major capital projects, including the new Richard Ivey School of Business and the new residence complex, and align capital priorities with strategic academic goals;
  • Strengthen Western’s leadership role in championing research and internationalization agendas with the federal government; and
  • Enhance Western’s visibility through media, communication and event activities.