The new strategic plan, the fourth in the university’s history, is decidedly outwardly facing, informed by almost two years of extensive consultation both on and off campus. It acknowledges that the U of S plays an important leadership role locally, provincially, nationally, and globally. Entitled The University the World Needs, and gifted with the Indigenous names nīkānītān manācihitowinihk (Cree) and ni manachīhitoonaan (Michif)—translating to “Let us lead with respect”—it sets priorities and cross-campus commitments through to the year 2025.
Informed by Indigenous languages and reflecting the university’s commitment to help fulfil the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, the institution’s Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) partners played a key role throughout the creation of the unique plan.
“Indigenization is not a separate commitment on its own, it runs through every single commitment that we have,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. “And that’s the university of the future.”
The progressive plan prioritizes three key commitments—courageous curiosity, boundless collaboration, and inspired communities—and identifies five areas of impact that the university will focus on over the next seven years—transformational work leading to reconciliation, productive collaboration, meaningful impact, developing distinguished learners, and earning global recognition.
“We have heard through this whole discovery process that people expect great things of us,” said Debra Pozega Osburn, vice-president of University Relations, noting that the development of the plan was a marked departure from the way that most universities approach the strategic planning process. “People believe that there are things that we can accomplish, areas in which we can lead, areas in which we can collaborate and partner, things we can do to inspire that will make a big difference here in Saskatchewan, and across the globe.”
Goals of the new seven-year plan range from increasing enrolment (to 28,000 students), peer-reviewed funding, and interdisciplinary and collaborative programs and partnerships, to improving academic rankings, enhancing alumni engagement, and continuing to being a leader amongst academic institutions in Indigenization provincially, nationally and internationally.
“With 18 colleges and schools and unique research facilities on campus like the Canadian Light Source, Canada’s only synchrotron, and VIDO-InterVac, the international vaccine research centre, no other research-intensive, medical-doctoral university in the country has the array of facilities and programs that we have,” Stoicheff said.
“That’s one of the things that makes this the right plan for getting ourselves out there into the public imagination, into the country’s imagination, and in many areas of the world, into the international imagination. It’s not only about doing more, it’s about people learning about all the great things that we are already doing.”
Work on the new integrated plan began with extensive consultation and collaboration following the approval of the university’s Mission, Vision, Values document in 2016. Approval for the new university plan came from its three governing bodies; University Council, Senate, and the Board of Governors.