President looks to the future of York

President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has issued this message to the York community:

Guided by the University Academic Plan (UAP), and after an extensive environmental scan of the external and internal issues that may affect the future of York University, I presented to the community my support of a series of key strategic initiatives in December 2007 (Moving Forward with the University Academic Plan Report to the Board of Governors). At that time, I made a strong commitment to ensuring that budgetary decisions would be driven by academic priorities. This necessitates ensuring that more attention is given to (i) academic planning at all levels; (ii) the integration of various academic plans; (iii) securing broad-based consultation with the community; and (iv) having a clear strategy for implementing these plans.

Right: Mamdouh Shoukri

One means for achieving the broader integration of planning and the primacy of academic priorities has been the Integrated Resource Planning process. The creation of the position of provost was also intended to provide leadership in identifying institutional academic priorities and ensuring the alignment of budgetary decisions with these priorities.

The UAP provides a key summary document of the strategic priorities emerging from the five-year planning cycle. The Integrated Resource Planning process, however, has revealed the need for a foundational document that will articulate a longer-term vision for the future of the University, a decade or more into the future.

Over the past 20 years, the University’s strategic planning has been guided largely by two documents. One is "2020 Vision: The Future of York University", developed over the period 1988 to 1991 and endorsed by Senate and the Board of Governors in 1992. The second is Vice-President Academic Affairs Michael Stevenson’s white paper of 1999. That paper, "Strategic Planning for the New Millenium 1999-2010", was very much an extension of "2020 Vision", sharpening and detailing the directions of that document.

Given that 10 years have passed since the last such exercise, it is now time to develop a new planning statement. This need has become particularly urgent in the past year with the worsening financial crisis. A longer-term vision of the kind of institution we aspire to be would, for example, help us mitigate the impact of necessary budget cuts.

Therefore, I have asked the vice-president academic & provost, in partnership with Senate, to lead the development of a Provostial White Paper similar in scope and ambition to the 1999 Stevenson white paper. My expectation is that this new white paper will articulate our longer-term strategic priorities, identify how York can differentiate itself, and provide a context for existing academic and administrative planning processes including, in particular, the development of the next UAP.

In developing this white paper, I have asked the provost to work in concert with the Academic Policy, Planning & Research Committee and other Senate committees, with Faculties, and with the university community. I anticipate that this process will lead to a Provostial White Paper that will be approved in principle by Senate. I know that the provost will be writing to the community in the near future outlining the nature of the process that he proposes to follow in this consultative process. I believe this will be an important step in addressing not just the financial challenges we face, but also in clarifying the tremendous opportunities and potential for York over the next 10 years.

For more information, visit the Provostial White Paper Web site.