Impact and Identity: U of R's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan Series, Part 6 of 6

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: December 22, 2020 5:00 a.m.

The development of an independent institutional identity is an essential part of the University's ongoing growth over the past half century.
The development of an independent institutional identity is an essential part of the University's ongoing growth over the past half century. Photo: U of R Photography

Impact and Identity is the fifth and final Area of Focus in the U of R's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak -- All Our Relations.

Divided into three main objectives - to broaden partnerships, strengthen institutional identity, and enhance social impact - Impact and Identity holds great potential to unite the University, its Federated Colleges, and all its community members in a shared vision, sense of purpose, and concrete direction that will last well beyond the five-year plan.

Broaden Partnerships, the first objective of the fifth Area of Focus, emphasizes the critical role that relationships and connections with community, including all levels of government, industry, and the public, play in ensuring the continuing social relevance of the University's academic programming and its positive impact on societal needs.

"With currently over 16,600 students, the University of Regina is one of the biggest economic drivers in the City of Regina and in southern Saskatchewan in general,"says Lisa Mitchell, Associate Vice-President of University Advancement & Communications. "The University is like a small city, really, a place of education, innovation, and leadership."

Lisa Mitchell is Associate Vice-
President of University
Advancement & Communications.
Photo: U of R Photography

Guided by the new Strategic Plan, the University is working both to identify new opportunities and partnerships, and to build upon existing relationships.

"Our success will always depend on our ability to develop mutually beneficial partnerships both within Saskatchewan and beyond. It is also imperative that we support our students and researchers in developing their careers, because over the long term they will help our communities, governments, and public and private sectors meet their objectives for everyone's benefit,"says Dr. Thomas Chase, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor of the U of R. "As we roll out our Strategic Plan, we are working closely with our partners, applying our expertise in research and innovation to support the areas of development and growth needed for a strong Saskatchewan."

The development of an independent institutional identity is an essential part of the University's ongoing growth over the past half century. In 2024, the University will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Through the inclusion of Institutional Identity, the second objective of Area 5, the U of R places a strong focus on the need for identity building inside the institution.

"We really need to engage, listen, and invest our time, when it comes to being able to truly define who we are as a post-secondary institution,"says Mitchell. "For the first time, we have committees set up as part of our student enrollment plan, website redesign plan, and University Recovery Group, as well as within Deans' Council, that are all talking about the need to define the specifics of our story as an institution and how that resonates throughout the university and in the community."

Tied closely to the development of the U of R's identity are its communications platforms, such as the University website and social media channels, which publicly promote the University identity and are a key measurement tool of the second objective.

"On or off campus, if our key messages resonate with people - what we stand for, what we're known for - then we've succeeded in creating our institutional identity,"emphasizes Mitchell. "Will that happen immediately? No, it's a long-term process of repetition and continued reinforcement of our messaging. Our ability to affect this change is strengthened by its inclusion in the Strategic Plan."

Flowing from the first two objectives of Area 5, the third objective, Social Impact, harnesses the University's success in broadening relationships and creating an institutional identity to achieve positive impact through education.

The University's Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) plays a leading role in engaging learners across their life- and career-spans, and curating education to meet individual and provincial workforce needs.

"We know that learning throughout a person's lifetime is important, not just at one particular moment,"says Christie Schultz, Director of CCE. "I truly believe that the knowledge and skills offered through our micro-credentials, like our seminar certificate programs, support the up-skilling and re-skilling needs of our communities of learners."

The development of micro-credentialing - shorter, bite-size educational programming - is a vital opportunity for the U of R to strengthen its role as an economic driver in Saskatchewan, helping to build a better quality of life for families and communities. For instance, this Fall, CCE announced the creation of a new micro-credential program in Business Essentials.

"Programs, such as Business Essentials, can be delivered remotely and speak to a broad student base, such as people in mid-career who want to upgrade their skills or change careers, or newcomers to Canada who might want to refresh their credentials,"says Schultz.

Similarly, the U of R's connection to and celebration of its almost 79,000 alumni and their impact on the world is a key component of demonstrating its social impact and sustaining institutional identity.

"Education is a catalyst for change throughout a person's life,"says Marc Butikofer, Director of Development of University Advancement & Communications. "When people study at the University of Regina, they are our students. When they graduate as alumni that relationship shouldn't end - they become our community partners, mentors, donors to student scholarships and University programs, and parents of future graduates."

Through the fifth Area of Focus, the University of Regina is building pride of place.

"Pride of place is all about identity,"adds Butikofer. "We all want to belong to something of which we're proud."