Creating Our Strategic Plan

October 10, 2017

To the AU Community:

On behalf of the Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG), I am pleased to present to you a draft version of our Strategic Plan – Imagine If … Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities.

We ask that you approach this draft with a critical eye. As you do, please recognize that this is a working version of the plan. It is the culmination and synthesis of numerous points of data. To begin, the SPWG distilled and synthesized the comments and observations identified during the Imagine If Workshops held in late August. These workshops resulted in approximately 6000 independent observations. 

Building on the themes identified during those workshops, the SPWG sought to integrate the themes evident in the many analyses and reports that have been undertaken by Athabasca University and external parties alike (e.g., Third Party Review). Finally, the working group integrated information from an external analysis of the higher education environment. The themes, therefore, represent the synthesis and distillation of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Following the creation of the themes and actions items, the initial draft was presented to the Strategic Planning Steering Team (SPST) on September 8th. Feedback from the team was integrated into the next iteration of the draft, which was then presented to the AU Board of Governors during their strategy meeting on September 16th. The draft before you today includes updates based on the feedback attained during both of those sessions.

The aim in seeking feedback now from the internal AU Community is to determine whether the plan resonates with you, how well the draft plan holds together, and what may need to be shifted or adapted to make the plan stronger. Although the SPWG welcomes specific feedback on particular words or phrases, its primary focus is on the larger sections of the draft and how they interplay to create a resilient future for Athabasca University. Overall, the plan is intended to outline AU’s future, create a path that resonates and unites our entire AU community, and gives us a collective sense of identity.

You may note that this plan is prepared unlike traditional strategic plans. It is organized around strategic themes. Ideas regarding actions, projects, and initiatives are contained later in the draft under the section “How will we get there.” Because this draft represents a high-level vision of the path forward and not an operational plan, specific actions, projects, and initiatives that support the broad themes of this strategic plan will be incorporated into the operational plans held by the Faculties, Divisions, and Departments. You will also note that this draft does not include performance indicators or progress metrics. It is important that the University first ensure full clarity in our strategic direction before setting high level strategic metrics. These will be integrated at a later point.

Within this pdf draft of the Strategic Plan – a link for comments is provided so that you will be able to send feedback directly when reviewing.  I would ask that you share comments before the end of day on Thursday October 19, 2017. From there, the SPWG will work with the feedback to create the next draft of our strategic plan.


Neil Fassina   PhD CPHR ICD.D