March 2006      
Strategic Planning Process

The University is in the midst of a strategic planning process that is being driven by a number of factors: an increasingly competitive market for students and new faculty; a need to clarify and agree upon the future direction and priorities of the institution; planning for a next Capital Campaign; and lastly, and perhaps of most concern to our community, an uncertain financial future of the University.

The “Gaiter Jaw” we are facing is a reality. The upper jaw, our expenses, will continue to rise. The lower jaw, our revenues, have flat-lined, and it is realistic to project they could drop, opening the “Jaw” even more. This fact has made strategic planning even more necessary for our institutional well-being.

There is little we can do about the upper jaw. The lower jaw is the area upon which we must spend our time – and everyone on campus can play a role. Late last month the Working Group asked Deans and non-academic managers to discuss a number of issues with their Divisions and Departments. First – how do you contribute to the mission of Bishop’s? This is an important exercise to ensure we all know our mission and the effects we have on the Bishop’s experience for students, faculty and staff.

Next, the Working Group suggested a number of “Big” ideas to consider as ways to generate revenue. You were also encouraged to come up with some of your own ideas as to how we might go about closing the “Gaiter Jaw”.

Questioning ourselves is not always comfortable. I want to take this opportunity to stress a few important points:
• This is a wonderful opportunity to evaluate every aspect of the University and to examine different ways in which we might deliver a Bishop’s education.
• This is not simply a financial exercise. Cost cutting is not the appropriate way to address a structural deficit – we need to look at our operations.
• It is true the structural deficit is brought about by under-funding to higher education; this simply magnifies the fact that we must examine how we manage our operations – increased funding may not be a reality.
• Both academic and non-academic departments can play major roles in this process.
• The goal of this process, in brief, is to decide how to maximize our operations to increase revenues, while also advancing our mission.

We encourage you to continue to debate some of the “Big” issues that were suggested by the Working Group. For instance:
Growth: Can we examine a tri-semester system as an opportunity to increase the number of students at Bishop's, without increasing the number of students on campus at any given time? Is growth with our current infrastructure possible? How can we grow given our mission? Can we be selective in our growth? Are there areas where we need more students or where we might be able to accommodate more students?

Technology: Can we use technology to grow? This does not mean that everyone has to dive into distance learning, but there might be some disciplines where on-line education might work.

Community: Are there opportunities for growth in our relationships with the wider community? Certainly there are international partnerships/linkages that can be explored, but we must also look closer to home. All levels of government devote millions of dollars to regional/rural development. How can we capitalize on this funding? How can we contribute to the crucial debates of our society?

Value-added experience: Our growth is linked to the value-added experience students are looking for. Our current experience attracts 2100 students. Can we improve on our value-added experiences to make us more attractive to prospective students?

Demographics: Perhaps we need to look at ways of tailoring our offerings to a wider demographic range? The 17-22 year old market is shrinking, while the 30 – 50 year old market is the one that will need universities for both professional and personal development. Are we poised for this trend?

Everyone, both academic and non-academic, needs to ask “How can I create a better Bishop’s Experience?” Collectively, acting on our answers, Bishop’s will become stronger.
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