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Executive Summary

ASAP 2012: Achieving Strategic Academic Priorities is the formal statement of McGill University’s academic plan that builds on the successes, and will fill the remaining gaps, of Strengths and Aspirations, the 2006 white paper call to action.  It is an iteration that responds to the economic, political, social and technological changes of the past six years. The plan’s explicit purpose is provide the framework to ensure that McGill University has well-articulated academic priorities that will be the core drivers of resource allocations and related processes over the next five years.

The intention of ASAP 2012 is to state clearly and precisely a shared vision of the University’s strategic priorities and at the same time to set the parameters for an implementation that are consistent with McGill’s mission, academic aspirations, financially sustainable, and yet remains adaptable to inevitably and rapidly changing circumstances.  Every unit at McGill will be expected to find appropriate ways to express the objectives outlined in this strategic plan with their own concrete actions. 

The planning process that informed ASAP 2012 was itself guided by a single, but double-barrelled, question: “What makes McGill a great university, and what are the hallmarks that distinguish our institution among its peers?” The answers informed the priorities, goals, themes, and objectives that must be achieved to ensure McGill’s continued leadership among the world’s great universities:

McGill is:
a place of choice for the best students, faculty and staff;  a dynamic research and educational environment; a reflection of the highest university ideals and values, including academic freedom, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and respect for diverse opinions; a nurturing and equitable environment characterised by inclusive and sustainable policies, processes, and practices;  an arena for producing sought-after graduates, alumni whose educational experience lasts a lifetime; a culture that is sensitive to, and contributes to, the needs of the local, national, and international community.

ASAP 2012 was developed with wide-ranging and robust consultation across the McGill community. Beginning in spring 2010 and continuing through 2011-2012, the Provost engaged in an extensive program of outreach and communications that involved Deans and other governance leaders, faculty, students and administrative and support staff. Outreach activities included open forums meetings with Faculty and Library Councils, chairs and directors, Student Councils and associations, presentations to Senate, and online consultation, and feedback six work groups, and submissions from academic and administrative units. 

The consultation process produced thoughtful consideration and useful feedback as well as lessons learned. McGill has incredible strengths in human resources—students, faculty, staff;  but our accomplishments must be better communicated, both internally and externally; there is also a pressing need for more effective communication about McGill’s extensive community engagement efforts; there is considerable interest on campus in furthering opportunities for collaboration across academic and administrative units; we must take advantage of, and harness, technological advances that have transformed research, teaching and learning on campus, in the community, and around the globe. ASAP 2012 reflects previous University planning efforts, the campus-wide feedback, and the lessons learned from this process.

There are three broad strategic priorities that frame ASAP 2012 and they are further elaborated in terms of 6 broad goals, 3 cross-cutting themes, and 10 major strategic objectives that contribute to three overarching strategic priorities.

6 broad goals emphasize McGill’s efforts to (1) maintain world leadership in research and creative activity; (2) develop stronger collaborations across Faculties, schools, departments, and other units; (3) extend outreach in areas of research, scholarship, and educational strength; enhance the quality of services and support to students, faculty and staff; (5) further a culture of inclusion that welcomes diversity of origin and ideas; (6) renew facilities and infrastructure.

3 cross-cutting themes: Internationalization, Sustainability and Innovation offer the means for achieving a variety of valued ends: enhancing the quality and scholarship and discovery; producing globally aware and innovative graduates who may become engaged alumni; and furthering a commitment to service that addresses, proposes and contributes sustainable solutions to world problems.

10 major strategic objectives, described in terms of rationale, strengths and challenges, aim to fortify faculty renewal; enhance undergraduate and graduate student educational and experiential environments; implement transformative research programs; apply the best administrative practices to all operations, both academic and administrative; enhance career development opportunities; measure progress for improved performance; extend and promote McGill’s service to Quebec, Canada, and the global community; encourage diversity; and reinvigorate professional programs. 

3 overarching strategic priorities emanating from the goals, themes and objectives have been identified to guide us forward in the next five years.  All our actions should ensure:

  • Advancing McGill’s academic success, profile, and reputation for excellence nationally and internationally, as one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities.
  • Achieving a sustained student-centred focus that will enhance the educational, research, and extracurricular life and learning experiences of students at all levels.
  • Managing existing resources and diversifying and optimizing revenue sources to ensure maximum impact in support of educational programs, research activities, and community engagement.

Finally, a framework for assessing progress according to a core set of metrics that include KPIs and qualitative measures and a budget companion to the plan will identify and determine resource allocations.  These mechanisms will be developed at the implementation stage in consultation with academic and administrative units.