Phase One will examine earlier strategic planning work, consider what has happened since and engage the university community in discussing six big questions to shape the future:
What were the most strategic and impactful decisions MacEwan made in the last 50 years?
What must we protect as we look to the next 50 years?
What did we want to be in 2030 and why? How have recent events impacted those plans?
What is the most impactful thing MacEwan could do to support and prepare our students for the future?
What is the most impactful thing MacEwan could do to help create a brighter future for our city, region and province?
What do we want to be in 2030 and why?
Phase One will include a series of Thought Leader Sessions for faculty and staff to consider the possibilities of this transformational time, and opportunities for the university’s Board of Governors, General Faculties Council (GFC) and the broader community (alumni, retirees and other partners) to explore the six big questions.
During Phase Two, we will be reviewing the emerging outcomes from the Alberta 2030 Strategy, engaging the university community to develop high-level strategies and goals based on work completed during Phase One, and engaging with external partners. By the end of this phase, we will have developed the university’s strategic vision.
Phase Three involves seeking the endorsement of the strategic vision from the university community, GFC and the board. Once endorsed the strategic vision will be used to shape supporting plans.
Thought Leader Sessions
In these sessions, faculty and staff can consider the possibilities and think about how the information presented might help address phase one’s six questions.
In the first of a series of Thought Leader Sessions on December 10, Kate White, deputy minister of jobs, economy and innovation, provided MacEwan University faculty and staff with an economic update and a look at the province’s forecasts.
White began by sharing some difficult statistics about Alberta’s shifting economy, including the changes to the composition of the province’s economy since 2000. “Nineteen years ago oil and gas was 27 per cent of our gross domestic product, and in 2019 it was 16 per cent – a huge shift.”
That shift, said White presents both challenges and opportunities, including the fourth industrial revolution.
“We must apply technology to what we do,” she said. “Alberta can not afford to miss this.”
Tapping into the digital revolution is where universities, including MacEwan, have a critical part to play. “Urban universities can help set the stage for future growth,” said White. “Translating the great human capital we have into innovation and ultimately productivity.”
Working with students on reskilling, building digital skills and teaching soft/durable skills will all be key ways MacEwan can contribute, said White. “We have the ingredients in this province for growth, we just need to get our swagger back and get working on solving the problems of the future.”
About Deputy Minister Kate White
An economist by profession, White has a passion for public policy and public sector leadership. Most of her public service career has been with the Government of Alberta, where she currently holds the position of deputy minister of jobs, economy and innovation. White has also been assistant deputy minister of economics and fiscal policy at Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, a chief economist, and deputy minister of finance and secretary to the management board for the Government of Yukon. She holds an MA in Economics from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Science from Dalhousie University.
On December 16, Paul Davidson, president and CEO of Universities Canada, spoke to MacEwan University faculty and staff to share his insights into the higher education sector’s challenges and opportunities.
“When the world turned inward, universities reached out,” said Davidson. “At a time of national crisis, universities stepped up. We will play our part in accelerating Canada’s economic and social reform.”
He shared polling data from this fall that sought to measure Canadian public opinion about the post-secondary sector’s response to the pandemic:
93 per cent of Canadians who were asked believe universities are essential to the country’s wealth and prosperity
88 per cent believe Canada should invest in higher education
84 per cent believe we need higher education now more than ever
“We continue to deliver on our higher education mission and research, and we continue to be anchors in communities across the country,” said Davidson.
He spoke of MacEwan as an anchor in downtown Edmonton, highlighting the importance of serving a wide array of people in the core, being prepared to innovate while staying true to the university’s values, conducting research and teaching that is informed by what’s happening in the community every day, forming partnerships to co-create knowledge, maintaining connections with business, and addressing the inquiries and social impacts of the pandemic.
Something MacEwan is particularly well-positioned to address, he said, involves upskilling and reskilling for people whose employment has been disrupted or who have been displaced from their jobs, and in preparing students for the workforce of the future.
Davidson wrapped up his address with a look at governance, highlighting three key themes: academic freedom, institutional autonomy and collegial governance. He also highlighted the importance of boards as enthusiastic champions of universities who help assert not only an institution's fundamental values but also their value.
As universities plan into the future, said Davidson, should involve thinking long-term – up to 50 years ahead. And while there is much to be taken from our ongoing online learning experiences, he doesn’t see the future of higher education as all-digital, all the time.
“Advances in technology and advances in pedagogy are real and are things that we should learn from and embrace,” he said, adding that “People have a strong sense of place and desire to be together – students want to get back together, and faculty want to get back together.”
About Paul Davidson
Paul Davidson has played leadership roles in government, the private sector and the voluntary sector for more than 25 years. He joined Universities Canada in May 2009 as president and CEO.
As president of Universities Canada, Davidson is building strong partnerships with business, post-secondary education and community leaders to advance a vision of higher education that promotes opportunity and excellence for Canadians. The university sector has also seen substantial and exceptional university research funding investments, increased resources for campus internationalization, and a heightened awareness of the need to improve Indigenous peoples’ access to postsecondary education. Davidson has been named both a top lobbyist in Ottawa and a top foreign policy influencer.
He holds an MA from Queen’s University, where he studied southern African history and a BA from Trent University, where he was part of the first graduating class of the Trent International Program.
Will the future of post-secondary education be for the “foxes” or the “hedgehogs”? Dr. Eric McIntosh from Deloitte Canada’s higher education transformation team posed this question to kick off MacEwan’s third Thought Leader Session on January 13.
Drawing from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus and mid-20th-century philosopher Isaiah Berlin, McIntosh began by explaining the origins of fox-like and hedgehog-like thinking. Then he introduced how Dr. Clark Kerr, the architect of California’s post-secondary system, interpreted that thinking: that foxes tend to know many things and see the detail in everything, while hedgehogs are more laser-focused on a single big thing.
“It’s not to say that one is necessarily better than the other,” explained McIntosh. “Kerr emphasizes the importance of having both fox-like leaders and hedgehog-like leaders for the multi-university, or the city of intellect, as he referred to it.”
McIntosh also spoke to the four key drivers of universities into the 21st century that Kerr outlined as part of the Godkin Lectures at Harvard University: cost, technology, jobs and access.
“Those four pillars that Kerr mentioned back in 2001 are dramatically shaping the dialogue today around cost, access to jobs and technology,” said McIntosh, specifically mentioning shifting funding models, the move to online learning precipitated by the pandemic, and the increasing focus on micro-credentialling.
“While the 21st-century rewards fox-like characteristics,” he said, “I also fundamentally believe that hedgehog characteristics are some of our most cherished things and that they can contribute to an institutional strategy and a way forward that differentiates who you are.”
About Eric McIntosh
Eric McIntosh is a higher education researcher who has worked in various areas of student affairs across Canada. After leaving the academy in 2015, Eric has consulted at over 100 university and college campuses across North America and the UK. His research interests involve student thriving, a holistic measure of student success, equity and access to higher education, student transfer and mobility, and predictive analytics for student success.
He holds an MA from Queen’s University, where he studied southern African history, and a BA from Trent University, where he was part of the first graduating class of the Trent International Program.
Feedback and questions
We invite your questions and feedback throughout the strategic vision process.