|New Senate Sub-committee
A new Senate Subcommittee - Defining and Promoting Bishop's University - was established at the April meeting of Senate. The mandate of the committee, in consultation with the campus community, is to better define our mission, liberal education and how we position the University in the future. Below is a copy of the proposal sent to Principal Poupart to strike the committee. Two meetings took place over the summer; however, much of the work will occur in the fall semester as the committee hopes to table recommendations in early January.
The committee consists of:
Dr. Glen Wickens (Humanities) Chairperson
Professor Cathy Beauchamp (Education)
Dr. Andrea Drumheller (Social Sciences)
Mr. Evan Hughes (SRC)
Mr. David McBride (Public Relations) Secretary
Dr. Jonathan Rittenhouse (VP Academic)
Professor Bill Robson (Williams School of Business)
Mr. Hans Rouleau (Liaison)
Dr. Walter Stephan (Natural Sciences and Mathematics)
TBD - SRC Academic VP
DATE: March 1, 2005
TO: Dr. R. Poupart, Principal & Chair of Senate
FROM: David McBride, University Advancement Officer
Glen Wickens, English Department Chair
RE: Positioning Bishop's for Success
Canadian universities operate in an increasingly competitive environment - for students, for faculty, for funds. To perform successfully in this environment Bishop's must project a unique identity which will generate enthusiastic support across all constituencies, both internally and externally.
Universities across Canada are beginning to follow the lead of our American neighbors by embarking on branding exercises. At their best, such exercises sharpen the image of the University in the public eye and generate enthusiasm and energy internally. At their worst, these are seen as cynical efforts by administrators to copy private sector marketing traditions. To be successful, branding exercises must have the deep support of the professoriate. This is perhaps true everywhere; it is certainly true at Bishop's.
Bishop's has loyal alumni in advertising and marketing firms who have agreed to assist the University in the development of a brand or public image. Before we can use these resources effectively, however, we suggest that it is essential that we agree on the key elements of our identity and engage the professoriate as we do so.
To do this effectively, we suggest the creation of a Task Force named by Senate whose mandate would be to review the following issues. The commentary generated by this exercise could then serve to animate further debate and discussion when professional experts engage with us in a more formal branding exercise.
A liberal education
Both our mission statement and our viewbook focus heavily on the term liberal education. What does it mean? Many on campus interchange the terms liberal education and liberal arts. If there is confusion on campus as to the term then there is surely confusion among prospective students and their parents. Throughout the 90's we believed "liberal education" differentiated Bishop's from other universities. A quick search of numerous Canadian universities will reveal that they too offer a "liberal education". Should the word "liberal¨ continue to be used prominently in our marketing material?
A liberal education at Bishop's: what do we believe we mean when we speak of this?
Do we indeed provide a liberal education? What does an examination of our offerings, both academic and extra-curricular, suggest in this respect? Are there areas where our policies and practices clearly differentiate us from our peers in this respect or is "liberal education" simply a convenient proxy for a good undergraduate education? If so, should we shift our language and talk instead about offering an outstanding undergraduate experience?
Our mission statement
The Bishop's mission statement in its current form was first drafted in 1989, adopted in 1994. Our mission, in many ways, is our promise. It describes our commitment to students and our expectations of faculty. Does it need rejuvenation? Is our mission still relevant to what we offer today? Are there changes that should be made? Should we expand on the mission statement to include goals and values?
Clarifying the mission and outlining goals and values can be a worthwhile process - both internally and externally. Virtually every organization, both public and private, has gone through this process. For the internal community these documents can be used for new employee initiation, and can clearly articulate what the Bishop's experience represents and how it is promoted externally. To prospective students and faculty, these documents will provide a better understanding of Bishop's and establish realistic expectations.
Our unique qualities
Our priority is to attract and retain top students and faculty. Prospective students and their families are savvy consumers. Attracting new faculty has become more difficult than ever. Saying Bishop's is small and personal is not enough - other universities describe themselves the same way. We should define:
- Our core strengths
- Our unique programmes or approaches to education
It is crucial that we define ourselves as accountable for the promises we make and that we set the indicators by which our accountability will be measured. To do this we need to define:
- The value added features of a Bishop's education
- The measurable indicators (graduate school admission/placement, as an example)
- The unique "Bishop's advantage" for our students and graduates
Once there is agreement about the issues raised above we must examine what is most "sellable¨ and how should we use this information to promote the University both internally and to our various external markets. We will need to:
- Agree upon key messages
- Define our "brand"
- Develop constant statements/comments/quotes to be used
- Create a tagline
Proposed Task Force
A task force should be created by Senate to include:
- A majority of academics, with representation from the administrative sector (particularly those involved in recruitment and retention of faculty), as well as support staff (particularly those involved in recruitment of students) and alumni.
It should be understood that the Task Force would seek input from all departments across the University to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.