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Strategic Framework

Request for Feedback from Internal Stakeholders

Dear Victoria University faculty, staff, and students,

Below you will find the draft version of Victoria University’s Strategic Framework, 2021-2026.

This draft is the result of considerable effort and much consultation. Over the course of the 2019-2020 year, with the help of Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), the University held two rounds of consultations with all stakeholder groups. The first round was open-ended and exploratory. It led to the development of a document, a Consultation Guide, that supported a second round of more focused consultations. Both rounds involved town halls, focus groups, and information sessions; oral and written feedback was solicited as well.  

The results of those consultations have been distilled into this draft Strategic Framework with its four core themes. This draft was at an advanced stage in March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our undertaking. During the past year, the work that had been done articulating core strategic themes was of considerable help to the administration in managing the University’s response to the pandemic. The writing and editing process was restarted in January, 2021, and this draft is now ready to be shared with internal stakeholders. After considering internal feedback, this Strategic Framework will also be shared with the University’s Board of Regents in April.

At this point, we invite our students, faculty, and staff to share feedback on the draft below.

Comments can be sent to vic.president@utoronto.ca by Thursday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. All responses will be received in confidence and will be anonymized before being shared with the Steering Committee. 

Strategic Framework, 2021-2026

President’s Message

Victoria University occupies a unique place in Canadian higher education. It is widely recognized as championing a broad-based, liberal education, where teaching and learning are driven by curiosity and conscience, inspired by challenging conversations, and sustained by meaningful personal interactions.

Victoria University operates in federation with the University of Toronto, Canada’s leading institution for discovering and sharing knowledge, and contributes to this common enterprise a commitment to providing a welcoming, student-centred learning environment. Victoria’s supportive community and its beautiful campus in the heart of Toronto produce an ideal setting in which to engage and challenge students both inside and outside the classroom, with life-changing results.

As it has done throughout its history, Victoria University continues to adapt the ideal of a broad-based, liberal education to meet changing needs. Academic curricula, student supports, physical infrastructure, and community partnerships are continually refreshed. Signature innovations launched over the last two decades include a suite of initiatives at Victoria College that foster high-impact student engagement, and the leadership role Emmanuel College has taken in multireligious theological education.

This Strategic Framework gives voice to a shared understanding of Victoria University’s distinctive mission and ethos, and provides a high-level vision of the overarching strategic aspirations of the University over the next five years.

This document, its main themes and its commitments have emerged out of significant consultation with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Board members. While this undertaking was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, I have continued to work with the University’s senior leadership group to distill the findings and insights from those consultations and to prepare this draft Strategic Framework. I would like to thank all participants for engaging in these conversations and for their ongoing commitment to our community.

Overview

The aim of this Strategic Framework is to ensure that Victoria University remains an outstanding place to pursue undergraduate studies in arts and science and graduate studies in theology, as we rise to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The framework was developed following consultations with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Board members that took place over the 2019-20 academic year, interrupted for a time by the coronavirus pandemic. Several hundred people participated in focus groups, town halls, engagement sessions, and surveys, where they were invited to share their ideas about the opportunities and challenges facing Victoria University, keeping in mind the evolving contexts of postsecondary education today. The key aspirations and concerns that emerged during consultations are distilled in the themes and commitments of this Strategic Framework.

The framework identifies four themes that will be of fundamental significance for Victoria University as we build upon our distinctive ideals and history. These are: a strong, inclusive community; an inspiring sense of place; outstanding academic programs; and signature learning experiences. Within each of these themes, the framework names a set of broad commitments that will shape our decision-making over the next five years.

Many participants in our consultations emphasized how Victoria is, above all, a community: a close association of learners, teachers, advisors, creators, and problem-solvers. Accordingly, the themes are presented in light of how this learning community is experienced by individual students, faculty, staff, and alumni: Belonging, Encountering, Exploring, and Transforming.

Victoria University’s distinctiveness lies in ensuring that all four of these aspects of engagement are prioritized. To build on its strengths, in the coming years the University must function at a high level in all four of the areas described in our strategic themes.

1. Belong: A Strong, Inclusive Community

Victoria University fosters a strong sense of belonging within a supportive community by respecting and connecting the many voices, needs, and histories of its members. We commit to broadening and deepening this sense of belonging.

Recognizing that diversity and inclusiveness are essential components of a rewarding academic environment and of an equitable workplace, we strive to realize our ideals of inclusion, helping students and staff from all walks of life to flourish, especially those from marginalized or under-represented groups. We will continue to expand and focus our supports and programs for students, with a special eye to their particular personal, cultural, academic, physical, and socio-economic circumstances. We will also enhance supports for faculty, staff, and alumni tailored to their specific needs.

We will continue to cultivate as many opportunities as possible for students and others to participate in conversations, whether inside or outside the classroom, to engage with new perspectives at the university and beyond, and to build community on and off our campus. Knowing that the health of our community depends upon the health and wellness of all of its members, we will increase our capacity to support the resilience and well-being of individuals within our community.

Commitments

  • We will broaden and deepen diversity, inclusion, access, and participation in the Victoria community
  • We will contribute meaningfully to processes of truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples
  • We will foster a culture of well-being
2. Encounter: An Inspiring Sense of Place

Victoria University’s beautiful campus enables the effective delivery of our courses and programs, and profoundly shapes how students and others experience the University and its mission.

Our buildings and open spaces promote the vibrant rhythms of campus life, while the mix of historic and modern architecture sustains a learning environment where past, present and future are in constant dialogue. A peaceful oasis with the city of Toronto at its doorstep, the Victoria campus provides the calm needed for study and reflection as well as the stimulation of engagement with the wider world. Our spaces also contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of society at large. The campus provides countless opportunities for encountering others and joining in conversations, making possible the relationship-rich environment that is key to our success.

In the coming years, we will further the campus’s capacity to contribute to our academic mission and our strong sense of community, including adapting learning spaces to emerging pedagogical needs and improving venues for academic, cultural and community events. As we maintain the special beauty of our campus, we will also address issues of accessibility and inclusion. And, as we face the accelerating crisis of climate change, we will embed a deep attention to environmental sustainability into our planning and operations.

Commitments

  • We will express our academic mission and sense of community in our buildings and grounds
  • We will maintain the special beauty and good repair of our campus
  • We will intensify sustainability initiatives across the entire university
3. Explore: Outstanding Academic Offerings

Victoria University continues to build on a longstanding tradition of academic excellence combined with outreach to the community.

Victoria College involves Arts and Science students in intellectual curiosity, research and discovery alongside dedicated faculty and staff. We aspire to be leaders in conversation-based, small-class learning, from first-year foundation seminars to final-year capstone colloquia. Our academic programs prioritize interdisciplinarity, societal responsibility, and critical thinking; provide experiential and international learning opportunities; and work with community partners including schools, museums, and creative and cultural institutions.

Founded as the flagship theological school of the United Church of Canada, and one of seven founding member colleges within the Toronto School of Theology, Emmanuel College today is on the leading edge of multireligious theological education. In relationship with Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and other religious communities, Emmanuel College equips leaders and scholars for rigorous theological inquiry and for inclusive practices of justice and care, contextual analysis, creative activity, and interfaith engagement.

First-rate library resources, caring and knowledgeable advising staff, and career readiness programs provide support to all students at Victoria University, as they explore how to develop their talents and engage with many of the world’s most important questions.

Commitments

  • We will sustain and strengthen the academic programs at both colleges
  • We will promote a dynamic culture of research and creative inquiry
  • We will support our students through exceptional advising, learning, and library services
4. Transform: Signature Learning Experiences

Victoria University is a leader in Canadian university education, offering students the opportunity to engage in distinctive and transforming learning experiences that complement and catalyze our core academic offerings.

Victoria College’s signature programs—Vic One, Vic Ready, Scholars-in-Residence and Ideas for the World—offer students a variety of enhanced learning opportunities, including small-group conversations, personal advising, alumni mentoring, core skills development, research opportunities, and community outreach and awareness. At Emmanuel College, innovative multireligious programming equips students to be leaders and scholars in interfaith engagement and inclusive practices of justice and care.

Victoria University prepares students to step forward into a pluralistic and ever-changing world. Through the innovative, high-impact programs at Victoria College and the interreligious approach to theological inquiry at Emmanuel College, students become adaptable, resilient, and ready for what comes next. At Victoria University we engage, we encourage, and we transform students, preparing them to flourish in their life journeys.

Commitments

  • At Victoria College, we will promote high-impact, conversation-based experiences inside and outside the classroom
  • At Emmanuel College, we will advance multireligious teaching and learning
  • We will champion the values of a transformative, liberal education
What’s Next?

This Strategic Framework identifies an ambitious path that Victoria University can take to build on its strengths and adapt to change.

By emphasizing both specific commitments and the common purpose that animates them, this framework aims to facilitate collaboration across different departments and stakeholder groups. As a statement of our key priorities, it is also intended to be helpful for our many partners across the University of Toronto, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the Toronto School of Theology.

Within Victoria University, this work will guide administrators, staff, Board members, student leaders and others in their goal-setting and decision-making over the course of the next few years, as we set in motion processes for implementing and taking concrete actions on the Strategic Framework’s themes and commitments.

Community Consultations

Victoria University is currently engaged in the second round of community consultations. All community members are invited to download and read the Phase 3 Consultation Guide, and attend one of the following consultations.

Download the Consultation Guide

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

  Time Location
Student, Faculty and teaching staff consultation 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Vic Chapel
All staff 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Vic Chapel
Victoria College & Emmanuel College alumni 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. RSVP to vic.president@utoronto.ca

Thursday, November 28, 2019

  Time Location
All staff 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Vic Chapel
Student, Faculty and teaching staff consultation 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Vic Chapel
Faculty emeriti 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Victoria College Room 115