Responding to Challenges and Opportunities with Sustainable Growth
As in 2010-2011, both challenges and opportunities were integral to development of this year’s academic plan for CBU. Challenges include the fiscal realities of our provincial, federal, and even international context. Provincial operating grants to Nova Scotia universities will be static or lower over the next few years, and federal funding for tri-council research and Aboriginal education lags significantly behind clearly demonstrated need. Global economic conditions affect both the domestic economy, and thus tuition and grant revenue, and our international education and research initiatives. Another significant challenge has been a demographically driven modest but steady decline in domestic, particularly Cape Breton, student enrolment. In student sub-populations where enrolment has been steady (Aboriginal) or increasing (International), an additional challenge has been ensuring that each student makes a well-informed choice of the very best academic program for them, and then has an opportunity for success.
The opportunities ahead are also exciting, but like the challenges require careful planning. Our core research activity is growing, including but not limited to our new Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy & the Environment, the Centre for Cape Breton Studies, and a variety of existing or planned special Chairs across all four Schools. We have several new graduate and undergraduate programs in development or revision that will capitalize on our areas of strength and make them even stronger. We have a wonderful, newly renovated space for our CBU Library. We have almost completed construction of the new Shannon School of Business, which will mean a re-imagining of not just the SSOB, but given the newly available infrastructure, all four of our Schools.
Planning in a context of significant challenges and opportunities requires careful analysis and well-considered, often difficult choices. I urge you to carefully consider Volume II: Planning Reports from Academic Units, which was written with the Dean of Research & Graduate Studies, the School Deans, and CBU’s Librarian, as these have informed the “key planning pillars” that follow. In addition, particularly with respect to the first pillar – “Growing and Sustaining Student Enrolment” – I suggest reading Volume III: Strategic Enrolment Management Research. For me, these SEM analyses highlighted our need to focus on our mission as we make difficult choices in establishing goals for enrolment and attaching the needed human and infrastructure resources to attain these goals.
Vice President Academic & Professional Studies (Provost)
Cape Breton University