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Athabasca University

Creating Our Strategic Plan

October 30, 2017

To the AU Community:

On behalf of the Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG), I am pleased to present to you the next draft of our Strategic Plan – Imagine: Transforming Lives and Transforming Communities.

I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback on the earlier version. The insights, recommendations, and suggestions that each of you made have enabled us to strengthen the document significantly. The aim of the SPWG was to seek feedback to determine whether the Plan resonated with you, how it holds together, and how we may make it stronger. I am pleased to say that the community came through on all three fronts.

While overall, the document appeared to resonate, the feedback received provided additional direction toward making the Strategic Plan stronger. Based on the feedback you provided, you may notice some changes in the new version. These changes include, but are not limited to:

Title. The title of the plan has changed to Imagine: Transforming Lives and Transforming Communities. While the “Imagine if…” beginning enabled us to collect and refine the initial input, the title has been changed to “Imagine” as we have a much more definitive end point in our plan now.

Refined Language. Consistent with the title, the SPWG has also identified ways to refine and simplify the language where possible and remove duplications.

Introduction letter. The letter to the community along with a description of the process to date and the formatting of the plan has been removed.

How will we get there? A great deal of feedback had been received with respect to how the University will operationalize the strategic themes. A significant change from the last version, therefore, is the shifting from the table of ideas regarding “How will we get there?” The new addition to this version is the Call to Action: 2018-2027 Strategic Roadmap on the last page of the plan. This road map seeks to create a line between our strategic themes and the priorities of this year and the years that follow.

Attention to Athabasca. In response to feedback regarding the need to emphasize our commitment to the town of Athabasca, the SPWG has inserted further reference to the town within the plan – primarily on the Strategic Roadmap.  

Visual. Please note that as you read this version of the plan, the visual has not yet been updated. This process is currently underway and will be completed at some point this week.

As noted with the last draft, the goal in creating a strategic plan is to bring the AU community together around a common direction and reflection of who we are today and into the future. As part of that common direction, we sought to identify pieces that shows the world that we are pushing forward as a global leader in accessible, flexible, and inclusive post-secondary learning.

How does the Strategic Plan fit in?

Planning Cycle. To be truly effective, the strategic plan needs to serve as the starting point within a fully integrated cycle of planning, implementation, measurement, and accountability. To that end, the strategic plan needs to guide and be aligned with the plans of faculties, divisions, and teams that serve across divisions. Although this alignment does not happen immediately, it will become a priority over the next year or so. Teams such as General Faculties Council, Faculty Councils, Administrative Council, Dean’s Council, Executive Team, and other leadership teams throughout the University will have a key role to play in moving our Strategic Plan forward.

The Plan must also guide the key achievement measures that we seek to achieve as a University. As such, the Plan will be paired with a strategic plan achievement dashboard in the coming months. By measuring our progress toward the strategic plan, we are able to make the necessary adjustments year over year.

To that end, the Strategic Plan remains a living document that is returned to and reviewed annually. As we make progress towards our four strategic themes, we will have an annual opportunity to review our activities and the impact they have to determine whether adjustments need to be made to our activities, or whether projects need to be started or stopped, and whether we need to adjust the directions outlined in our overall strategy.

The importance of individual members of the AU community. The importance of each individual member of the AU community in our future cannot be overstated. In addition to guiding the plans and activities of teams across the AU community, the Strategic Plan should support individuals at AU by providing a general guide for their actions and decisions. Individual actions contribute and support a stronger university. We must, therefore, find ways for individuals to see themselves in the Plan, as the entire university community will have responsibility for making our plan a reality.

Next Steps

Immediately following the review of the AU Community of this pdf draft, the Strategic Planning Steering Team will review the Plan on November 7th. Following feedback provided by the community and the Steering Team, the draft Strategic Plan will go before General Faculties Council on November 14th and the Board of Governors following. 

For This Draft

The SPWG asks again that you approach this draft with a critical eye. We ask that you continue to consider how we made the Plan stronger and how you see the Strategic Plan supporting individual, team, unit, faculty, and department initiatives going forward.

Respectfully,

Neil Fassina   PhD CPHR ICD.D
President

Updated January 19 2018 by Web Services - University Relations

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