“What do you think TRU's strategic priorities should be for the next five years?”
That was the question Thompson Rivers University president Alan Shaver was asking at a townhall meeting held Friday afternoon, Dec. 13, at the Community Resource Center in Clearwater.
Universities formerly served the elite, he said. Up until the 1960s, most people did not attend.
“I was the first person in my family to go to university,” Shaver said. “It was a pretty special change across the country.”
Now universities want to cater to even more groups, such as First Nations, seniors and caregivers.
“It's the next level of accessibility,” said the TRU president.
The university in Kamloops is unique in the level of trades training included in the curriculum.
“TRU is a comprehensive university,” Shaver said. “We can't offer everything for everybody, but we can offer something for everyone.”
The university's new academic plan recognizes that the challenges of tomorrow are not in today's textbooks, he said.
Students need to learn research methods to deal with problems never seen before.
“They need to develop the ability to think critically,” Shaver said. “We want students to be well versed in a multitude of disciplines.”
“If you've learned how to learn, it will carry with you for the rest of your life.”
Developing a five-year strategic plan for TRU began last fall, said Lucille Gnanasihamany, associate vice-president for marketing and communications.
The president sent out a notice asking people to nominate candidates to sit on a committee to develop the plan.
A total of 135 nominations were received and a committee of the university's Senate pared that number down to 30.
What was being sought was diversity, she said. The committee has representation from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community at large.
Two surveys were conducted in September, and a series of townhall meetings are being held in the communities that TRU serves.
All the information gathered is being summarized and placed on the committee's website.
A first draft of the strategic plan is expected out in January.
The final plan should be ready for presentation to the university's Board of Governors in March or April.