College Corner: Implementing our new University Strategic Plan, Shape

A look at the opportunities for the colleges to contribute to the university’s mission and goals for the next ten years and beyond.


Left to right: Marvin Washington, College Dean and Vice-Provost, College of Social Sciences and Humanities; Brenda Hemmelgarn, College Dean and Vice-Provost, College of Health Sciences; Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell, College Dean and Vice-Provost, College of Natural and Applied Sciences.

College of Social Sciences and Humanities

September has been such an exciting month, particularly with the release of Shape: A Strategic Plan of Impact, 2023-2033. It’s clear that a great deal of consideration has gone into developing such an ambitious plan that will truly shape the future of our institution. I would like to commend the university community for creating a bold, strategic roadmap that will guide us for the next ten years. 

While the strategic plan understandably focuses on the broader university goals, I can see our college and faculties – Arts, Business, Education and Law – reflected in every aspect of this plan. We are the change makers, the innovators and social transformation leaders that will breathe life into this plan and turn words on a page into meaningful action. I’m particularly excited with the idea that everything we do, we do with purpose, so when reviewing the strategic plan, I would encourage you to particularly read the sections that focus on purpose: Education with Purpose, Research with Purpose and Engagement with Purpose. It is ‘with purpose’ that gives our work meaning and allows our expertise and values to shine. 

Our commitment to fostering critical thinking and knowledge transformation remains at the core of what we do. I am so proud of our college’s dedication to research, teaching, learning and community engagement, which aligns with so many of the university’s overarching objectives found in the new strategic plan.

As we progress, I know that our college has an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to the university’s mission and goals for the next ten years and beyond, and I look forward to this exciting challenge as we work together to shape our future. 

Marvin Washington, College Dean

College of Natural and Applied Sciences

With the launch of Shape, the new University Strategic Plan, it is wonderful to see how the faculty priorities within the college, and a lot of the work already happening in the faculties, are already aligned with institutional priorities. Now, the opportunity before CNAS is to bring our faculty priorities together in a way that allows us to have the most impact as an institution. This will be achieved through aligning all of our strategic priorities and proposals – including program development, course development and research development – with Shape. Our role as a college, always but especially in response to Shape, is to leverage what's working well in the faculties for everyone. 

I am especially excited by the opportunities for enrollment growth outlined by the plan. While a 35 per cent increase in enrollment may feel ambitious, or even alarming, this growth will be strategic and will happen in areas where there are opportunities and demand, both within programs and departments, and across faculties and colleges. We must remember that growth does not just mean an increase in undergraduate students in classrooms; growth includes graduate students in both thesis-based and course-based programs, lifelong learners and hybrid learners. In an ideal world, CNAS would have a program for everyone: the teenager straight out of high school, the 45 year-old making a career change and the 65 year-old retiree wanting to learn more. This is a great opportunity to expand access to our offerings to more bright minds and talented individuals.

Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell, College Dean

College of Health Sciences

It is heartening to see that so much of the work we are engaged in here in the College of Health Sciences is reflected in Shape, and I look forward to the opportunity to bring together all of the faculties in our College to further align with these priorities. 

In particular, health and well-being — recognized as a global area of excellence in the strategic plan — resonates profoundly within our college, as our faculties are committed to supporting and caring for both tomorrow’s health-care leaders and the communities we serve. 

As part of this commitment to addressing society’s evolving health-care demands, CHS has already been strategically expanding its programs. This process also plays a key role in supporting enrolment growth —  an institution-wide priority. The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry recently launched a direct-entry dental assisting certificate program, responding to the pressing need for skilled dental professionals locally and globally. Furthermore, the CHS is actively shaping a bachelor of health sciences, incorporating successful elements from established programs such as nursing, which is ranked as the top program in Canada and among the top five in the world. By building in this way upon the existing success and expertise of our six faculties, we can develop comprehensive and high-quality education for the college. 

At the same time, we are actively pursuing opportunities to come together as a college and unite our expertise in purpose-driven research. As just one example, the establishment of a CHS research hub focusing on climate-related health issues underscores our dedication to confronting the urgent challenges of our time. As we continue to build together, the CHS Office of Research will support additional hubs where large-scale, multidisciplinary research initiatives can thrive.

Brenda Hemmelgarn, College Dean