The University of Windsor is in the midst of significant change.
From the transformation of the campus including the downtown, to the shifting balances between undergraduate, graduate, domestic and international enrolment, to the more aggressive intrusions of government into postsecondary affairs, to the rising profile of our research and teaching within Ontario, this is an important time in the evolution of the university. As president, it places greater expectations and need on me to be doing all I can through outreach to help these transformations succeed.
Government relations, alumni and donor relations, fundraising, and support of student recruitment in key markets are things that require strategic engagement by the president. We have a strategic plan, a Capital Transformation Plan, a soon-to-be-completed Campus Master Plan, a strong and loyal administration team, a resource allocation model, and crystallizing messages about how our scholarship is important for society.
The challenge now is to keep focused on those and to ensure they are executed.
- Continue a consistent pattern of outreach for alumni engagement, fundraising and student recruitment regionally, in the GTA, and in key urban centres nationally and internationally. The 50th anniversary year is a key time to be doing this, when we are reaching out to all alumni to be engaged. Visits to key alumni and donors in centres like Calgary and Vancouver must occur at least annually, and much more frequently to the GTA and proximal region in the US. My recent trip to China and Hong Kong identified a number of very influential high net worth alumni who have had little engagement with us since they left their studies, but who are receptive to learning more. The other major untapped international connection for us is India, where we have many alumni and recruit many students. It is now much easier to engage alumni and donors because we have a clear story to tell about what is happening at the University.
- Advocate for the university with governments at all levels, particularly with an eye to identifying where there are untapped sources of funds that could advance us. The recent federal announcement that universities can now apply for infrastructure dollars that support municipal renewal is one example of why it will be important to be aware and on top of opportunities.
- Place a higher priority on fundraising, particularly for Phase I of the Capital Transformation Plan, and in particular projects in the downtown. Phase I has been set up with very little dependence on fundraising, and any funds that can be raised will free up bond fund resources for other projects such as those in Phase II. With the restructuring that has occurred in Advancement, the focus on a campaign that is more directly aligned with our capital needs and our student support needs is being more readily facilitated.
- In support of a fundraising campaign, finalize the creation of a President’s Circle of prominent donors and public figures, and identify a Chair and Co-Chair. The full organizational structure in support of the campaign is currently being worked on, and will be presented to the Board for input (possibly as a lead item for our annual retreat in January) prior to publicly launching a campaign.
- The 50th anniversary events on campus will occur throughout the year, and I will do what I can to use those events to raise awareness and pride in the University and in our students and graduates. Already, Holly Ward, Chief Communications Officer, has been actively promoting the planned events. Beginning with the new logo, through to the formal launch of a campaign, it will be an important year.
- Seek to have eight thousand (8,000) alumni donors in our 50th anniversary year.