Laurier’s strategic planning

To celebrate the university’s 100th anniversary,
which takes place next year,
Laurier will be developing two new
things: a Laurier-authentic narrative
and a new visual identity.

The narrative will explain what
the institution stands for and what it
wants to strive toward: leadership,
community and experiential learning,
both inside and out of the classroom.

“The concept there was to try and
maintain Laurier’s strengths that were
really revealed through the envisioning
exercise,” commented dean of students
David Mcurray.

Master plan

A 25-year master plan for Wilfrid
Laurier University is now entering the
final quarter of its development. It has
the aim of creating a vision for how
the campus will look in the future,
with the majority focusing on five to
10 year time frames.

“The focus for the Waterloo campus
will be the development of open space
and pedestrian walking systems,” said
Paul Puopolo, general manager of the
IBI Group, who has been handed the
task of developing the master plan.

According to Puopolo, the development
of student residences will be one
of the immediate focuses. The residences
they are currently assessing
include Laurier Place, Regina St. Macdonald
House and Willison Hall.

Max Blouw, president of Laurier,
explained that the master plan is a
fairly common undertaking for universities
who are anticipating major
capital changes in the future.

“Most universities, in order to be
strategic … tend to have a plan that
they update every five to seven years.
“[The plan] helps them to look into the
future and anticipate what to do … as
growth occurs,” said Blouw.

He added that Laurier has not had a
master plan for many years, and that
it is important for the school to do an
evaluation of the current infrastructure,
as well as plan for future grow.
Part of the master plan is for Laurier
to focus on its multi-campus concept,
by maintaining the strengths of
the Waterloo campus and using them
as a foundation when building other
campuses.

“The word small is often associated
with the [Laurier] campus. So rather
than get too big, and threaten the
characteristics that have defined us for
so long, the idea is to duplicate that
experience in another location,” said
dean of students David McMurray.

In 1999 Laurier opened a Brantford
campus, which in 10 years has grown
from 38 to 2290 students. This campus
is where Laurier will be focusing
much of its growth over the next few
years.

“Brantford is a place we hope to
grow considerably. They are actively
working on new academic programs
in order to draw in more students.”

He added that the same strategy
would be for Milton.

Last year, the university signed a
three year memorandum of understanding
with the community of Milton.

The memorandum allows Laurier
to explore the possibilty of building a
campus in the city.

According to McMurray, the benefit
of having several smaller campuses is
that you maintain the feeling of being
at a small university while still having
one focused identity.

“So whether you’re in Brantford,
Waterloo or Milton you know you’re at
Laurier.”

Laurier dean of arts, David Docherty,
has been hired for a three-year
term as senior advisor, multi-campus
initiatives, to facilitate the muchneeded
conversation between faculty,
staff and the community regarding the
Milton campus.

“We’ve established multi-campus
locations, but we haven’t paid enough
attention to how we govern ourselves
in that reality,” said Blouw, explaining
that Docherty will be responsible
for strengthening the governance between
all Laurier campuses.

“While Milton will be part of the
focus of Docherty’s position, it will not
be the main focus initially.”

A new visual identity

Along with the narrative regarding
the future of Laurier, a new image will
represent the international face of the
university.

“The whole purpose behind [the
new visual identity] is to have something
that really does represent the
university globally,” said McMurray.

McMurray noted that the university
has been represented by various visual
signifiers over the years, and that right
now the word “Laurier” is appearing
prominently in marketing materials.

“The word Laurier has come into
its own,” said McMurray.

“So all of the new marketing contains
just that word. Whether that
will survive as the new visual identity
or not, we won’t know just yet,” said
McMurray.

Academic planning

One aspect of Laurier’s vision for the
future is redefining the university’s
academic plan.

“We do have an academic plan
called the century plan,” said vicepresident
of academics Deb MacLatchy.

“That plan, however, is a few
years old. Generally, universities will
renew their academic plans every five
years or so. We’re about due to develop
a new plan.”

Over the last two or three years, the
university has spent a lot of time identifying
what Laurier is and what the
university’s mission as an institution
is. According to MacLatchy, the next
step is developing an academic plan
that grows out of that mission.

“I have been working closely over
the past few months with the deans
of the faculties to develop a framework
for an academic plan,” said
MacLatchy.

That framework will be presented
at the first senate meeting of the academic
year, which will be held Sept.
15.

Following that, there will be an opportunity
for members of the Laurier
community to add input, which will
help further develop the plan. Depending
on how that goes, MacLatchy
says Laurier can expect a formal academic
plan within the next six to 12
months.

“Generally what an academic plan
will do is lay out what you are as a
university now and the role of universities
in general in society,” said
MacLatchy.

“And then specify over the next period
of time how you think Laurier
will live up to its mission and vision
through its academic programming.”

Student experience

With Laurier growing each year, and
a future plan currently in review to
develop, a major concern revolves
around how all the growth will affect
students and their experience at the
university.

“We’re trying to keep the big small.
As we get bigger, we have to think how
can we maintain that sense of belonging,
that sense of recognition and respect
of students as individuals, without
getting lost like they do at larger
universities,” said McMurray.

He added that while some students
may want to be one face in a crowd of
many, Laurier students expect more
than that.

“I think that’s the challenge,” said
McMurray.

As the student population has increased,
McMurray noted that the
university has been able to offer more
resources to ensure that the student
experience has not suffered, despite
growth.

“When I started [in 1999] there
was so much that didn’t exist,” said
McMurray.

“Now there are so many more people
in student affairs leading these
programs, we’re just doing an awful lot
more than ever before.”

McMurray explains that because
growth is threatening Laurier’s smallschool
atmosphere, there is a strong
focus on the multi-campus initiative.

“We want to try and build what
we’ve got at the Waterloo campus, at
Brantford and Milton as well.”

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