The development of a new strategic plan that focuses on student advising at York is underway, and the recent annual YUAdvise Conference offered a platform for colleagues to engage in the process.
More than 100 community members involved in advising at York met for the eighth annual conference titled “Rebuilding connections: Establishing a community of care in an evolving world” to participate in brainstorming and laying the foundation for York’s first institutional plan for advising.
“Coming together for the first time in person, post-pandemic, was the perfect opportunity for us to reimagine the way forward in this new context we find ourselves in,” said Cristina Bregar, University lead of student advising. “It is important that advisors play an active role in setting the future direction of advising at York – that they see themselves reflected in the plan, and that the plan itself is reflective of the priorities of the community as a whole.”
A keynote address delivered by Jennifer Bloom, founder of the Office of Appreciative Education at Florida Atlantic University, focused on the importance of asking questions and building relationships based on curiosity and interest in others.
Bloom, a 2017 recipient of the NACADA Global Community for Academic Advising’s Virginia N. Gordon Award for Excellence in the Field of Advising, challenged York’s advising community to consider how they could rebuild connections and establish a community of care in an evolving world.
Leaning on Bloom’s Appreciative Advising Model, the York advising community has adopted an “appreciative inquiry” approach for strategic planning. Advising colleagues were asked to focus on strengths and possibilities through two themes: YUDiscover – which focused on identifying strengths; and YUDream – which focused on looking toward what will work well in the future. This inquiry led to proposed mission statements that were presented and voted upon, and will be evaluated as part of the strategic planning work.
The innovative approach to the conference was successful, and Gilles Thibodeau, director of Academic Services at Glendon, said the community was fully engaged in creating the unit’s next strategic plan and mission statement.
“Having that kind of ownership and input is invaluable in the continued sense of pride, belonging and engagement we feel in our roles,” Thibodeau said.
Randy Pitawanakwat, manager of Indigenous Student Services, said “The opportunity to share stories and brainstorm with colleagues to co-author a strategic plan was a worthwhile dialogue with peers.”
A Student Advising Strategic Planning group will take the lessons from the conference to analyze and develop the feedback into a high-level draft plan. Key partners across the institution will be engaged and a feedback loop will be established. Interested York community members are invited to offer their contributions by contacting Bregar by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.