Defining moment for LA&PS as strategic plan is approved

Not even a year into its existence, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) has achieved a historic success. With a remarkably high turnout of more than 130 community members, The Strategic Plan for the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, 2010-2020: Making Choices for Our Future received nearly unanimous support at the June 24 meeting of Faculty Council.


Above: Political science Professor George Comninel, chair of the LA&PS Academic Policy & Planning Committee, proposes the motion to adopt the strategic plan at Faculty Council

“The tremendous turnout is a testament to the importance our community has put on the strategic planning process,” said LA&PS Dean Martin Singer. “With busy schedules, the G20, an earthquake and the World Cup all vying for our attention, I am overwhelmed by the commitment, engagement and enthusiasm of our colleagues and their excitement about moving forward with the plan.”

It was less than 12 months ago, on July 1, 2009, that York University’s newest and largest Faculty came into existence. The first major challenge for the Faculty was to work collegially to arrive at a vision of the future and a strategic plan to define it. In fall 2009, the dean established a 30-member ad hoc  Dean’s Working Group on Strategic Planning which, after several months produced a comprehensive framework for the plan.

Left: Singer addresses members of the Faculty Council

The most critical and vigorously debated component of this framework was a mission statement for the Faculty. The framework also identified five strategic goals and 29 principles which would help guide the Faculty in subsequent planning phases. After extensive public consultation and revision, the framework received overwhelming approval at the Jan. 21 meeting of Faculty Council (see YFile, Jan. 27).

The second phase began late in February when the dean, associate deans and senior staff met with over 1,000 people in a series of one- and two-day site visits to each of the Faculty’s 25 departments, schools and colleges (see YFile, June 23).

“The visits were a unique opportunity to discuss how the Faculty’s newly approved strategic goals and principles resonated with each unit; and, significantly, they provided the occasion for frank and collegial discussions about each unit, the Faculty and the University overall,” noted Professor Haideh Moghissi, associate dean external relations. “The strategic plan was very much shaped and enriched by the consultations that took place, and I feel privileged to have been part of the discussions.”

Right: At the conclusion of the vote, Singer cut a celebratory cake

The resulting plan was first introduced at Faculty Council on June 10 and further input provided by community members led to a final version. A packed crowd and a resoundingly positive vote in the Senate Chambers on June 24 meant that LA&PS now has a clear mandate to move into the third chapter of its strategic planning process, the implementation phase.

“I am constantly impressed by the Faculty – by our students, professors, staff and alumni, by members of the York community who want to see this Faculty succeed and who have worked tirelessly over the past few months to ensure that it does,” said Singer. “This was an exhausting process, but it was richly rewarding. We’re already becoming a strong community that has much to offer and even more to look forward to.”

In the next few months, a series of resource-related implementation documents will be drawn up in consultation with the Dean’s Working Group which will include milestones to enable the Faculty to gauge its progress towards achieving its goals. The dean plans to report annually to Faculty Council, highlighting successes as well as areas of the strategic plan that may require updating or reconsideration.

“This is an exciting time to be at York and an exciting time to be part of our Faculty,” he said. “There are many challenges to overcome, but we have a real opportunity to further solidify our Faculty as a leader in providing liberal arts and professional education here in Canada.”

The strategic plan is available on the LA&PS Faculty Council Web site.

For more information on the LA&PS strategic planning process, e-mail Didier Pomerleau, executive director of strategic planning, at