DONOR'S eNewsletter November 25, 2005

Enrolment for 2005

In September 2005 we welcomed an incoming class of 699 students (737 in 2004). Consistent this year is the proportion of female and male students: 54 and 46 percent respectively. Our campus continues to be home to a diverse student population. The attached chartof the geographic origin of our students shows clearly why Bishop’s ranks 1st in Maclean’s in the category of “out of province first year students.”

We accommodated the growth of student numbers in the last two years because their degree choices, fortunately, coincided with our capacity to provide professors and courses in those areas. In other words, we did not simply admit a huge influx of Business students. Please see the attached chart for the distribution of our students among the divisions.

As the effect of the Ontario double cohort diminishes, we recognize that challenges lie ahead in recruiting and retaining a full campus of some 2200 students. While we do not have an action plan in place to address the issue of recruitment, it is certainly one of our preoccupations.

Your donations at work…

Scholarships have proven to be effective over the years in recruiting and retaining students. Donations to the Bishop’s University Foundation – either as annual gifts or capital ones to build named trust funds – cover the cost of the scholarship programme, and we are indeed grateful to the many benefactors who have given their support. The Foundation will provide funding in excess of $1 million to students this year – in the forms of scholarships, awards, bursaries and internships.

In 2005, Bishop’s can proudly claim that 23% of all eligible students hold a scholarship that recognizes and rewards academic achievement. The number of scholars has more than doubled since we made the decision in 1998-99 to use scholarships for strategic purposes.
Directing donor dollars to scholarships has:

  • helped in recruitment. Not only did enrolment rise but so too did our average entering grade (currently at 82.4%).
  • led to Bishop’s induction into the Golden Key International Honour Society.
  • improved our graduation rates.
  • contributed to the level of intellectual discourse both in and out of the classroom.
Many of our scholars send letters of appreciation to their sponsors. To quote a 3rd year scholar:

The scholarship has allowed me to experience many wonderful facets during my years in Quebec — a small, close-knit community; wonderful people and lifelong friends; amazing professors in a relaxed, personal setting. Without the generous support of people such as you, I would not have the opportunity to be here, pursuing my love for Biology in such an ideal location. - Amy

Renovations to begin in Centennial this January

At long last Bishop’s Centennial Theatre, the principal intermediate-sized performing arts complex in the Townships, will undergo much-needed renovation, thanks to the financial support of the federal, provincial and municipal governments and donations from alumni and friends of Bishop’s. The Theatre will be closed from January to March 2006.

We need your help to meet the total cost of the renovations. By endowing one or more seats for $500 a seat, you can take a permanent place in the history of Centennial Theatre. We will be pleased to engrave a name of your choice on our plaque, an attractive design of glass, green marble and stainless steel, which is permanently mounted in the lobby so that theatre goers can read the names of Centennial’s patrons.

Your gift will help Centennial Theatre continue to play a central role in the cultural life of Bishop’s and the Eastern Townships.

Defining and Promoting Bishop's University

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 distinctive identity which will generate support across all constituencies, both internal and external.

Universities in 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.

As a result a new Senate Committee on 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 redefine our mission, liberal education and help position the University for the future.

The committee consists of:
Dr. Glen Wickens (Humanities), Chairperson
Professor Cathy Beauchamp (Education)
Dr. Andrea Drumheller (Social Sciences)
Mr. Evan Hughes (SRC VP External)
Ms. Sara Limpert (SRC VP Academic)
Mr. David McBride (University Advancement Officer), Secretary
Dr. Jonathan Rittenhouse (VP Academic)
Professor Bill Robson (Williams School of Business)
Mr. Hans Rouleau (Liaison)
Dr. Walter Stephan (Natural Sciences and Mathematics)

The committee met twice during the summer and has met regularly this semester to draft two draft documents which are now being circulated on campus for comments. The first document is an updated version of our mission statement, which was adopted in 1992. The second is a document which the committee believes better defines the Bishop’s experience and what a “sound and liberal” education means. It is envisioned that this document will be used on campus as a set of values, and that the document can be used to external audiences to better explain the characteristics of a Bishop’s education.

The committee is eager for feedback from all Bishop’s constituents. Please read our draft mission statement and Bishop’s defines a sound and liberal education. Comments and feedback are welcome until December 16th and may be sent to Dave McBride, committee secretary.

Maclean's Rankings

The Maclean’s University Rankings ’05 hit the newsstands on November 7th. Bishop’s University ranked a respectable 5th out of 21 universities in the “Primarily Undergraduate Ranking,” down one place from last year when we finished 4th.

There are some scores worth noting. Of the 22 categories used to determine the ranking Bishop’s ranked 1st in the following categories:

  • Percentage of out of province student in our first year class
  • Student Services budget as a percentage of our operating budget
Bishop’s ranked 2nd in the following categories:
  • Proportion of entering students with averages of 75% or higher
  • Library expenses per student
And finally, Bishop’s ranked 3rd in the following categories:
  • Class sizes (1st and 2nd year)
  • Class sizes (3rd and 4th year)
In some areas Bishop’s is improving but the improvement may not be reflected by movement in the rankings. For instance, we are pleased to see in the category of Student Retention (from 1st to 2nd year) we have improved from 82.2% in 2003 to 87.7% in 2005. In the Social Sciences and Humanities research grant category the average grant (per eligible faculty member) has gone from $407 (2003) to $1,323 this year. In the Medical/Science Grant research category our average grant has gone from $3,768 (2003) to $5,131.

At the same time, there are some areas where we dropped. In the category of First Year Classes Taught by Tenured (or Tenured Track) Faculty we fell to 42.40% from 47.90% last year. Our Operating Budget per Student has fallen from $9,511 (2003) to $9,210 this year – largely due to the chronic underfunding of Quebec universities. Alumni Support (% of alumni who have made a gift over a five-year period) has dropped from 22.7% (2003) to 20.1% this year.

The most humbling category continues to be Reputation. This year Bishop’s ranked 16th (out of 21), compared to 10th in 2003. Last spring’s survey (conducted by the Alumni & Development Office) clearly showed alumni believe the area most in need of improvement at Bishop’s is reputation and visibility. Maclean’s proved them right! Bishop’s, like many universities, takes issue with this category, its extremely high value in the survey (worth 16% of overall), and how the “data” is collected. Nonetheless we need to look at ways to sharpen our profile and better tell the Bishop’s story.

The Maclean’s University Rankings certainly fuels the dialogue about universities and ways in which to measure quality. It is important to remember this is not the definitive guide as to which university is best; Canada is blessed with fine universities from coast to coast. The Maclean’s University Rankings can and are used as a research tool for prospective students and their parents as they investigate post-secondary options, and perhaps by universities to compare against one another using quantitative data. In truth these rankings do not indicate a first (or fifth) best university; the university experience is a personal one and is different for each student or faculty member. Let’s keep that in mind, and use the findings to improve the Bishop’s Experience for our students – not for Maclean’s.

Robert Poupart

© 2007 Bishop's University. All rights reserved.