Our Shared Priorities (2023-2027)
Our Shared Priorities, originally released in 2018, was intended to guide investments and activities of the academic units and teams within OAC. Since then, it has acted as a touchstone for the entire OAC community. It articulates our collective focus on: Student Success, Achieving Excellence, Supporting Our People, Organizational Effectiveness and Our Legacy and Reputation.
The original Our Shared Priorities also quicky became an important tool for the Dean’s Office, OAC Executive and Academic Unit leaders. The last five years have demonstrated how relevant Our Shared Priorities are and continue to be as a guiding values statement. The pillars are evergreen foci that are even more foundationally relevant as we respond to the fiscal challenges of today’s funding context and the resulting existential evolution.
So, instead of embarking on another strategic visioning exercise, we are recommitting to the five pillars of Our Shared Priorities and our shared purpose: To Improve Life by inspiring leaders, generating knowledge and creating innovative solutions for food, agriculture, communities and the environment.
Note: The specificity of the examples under each pillar have been updated and refreshed to reflect our current and expected context for 2023-2027.
We define “Student Success” as students being prepared to begin their chosen path and contribute to society. Since our founding, OAC has focused on ensuring that students graduate with the skills they need to succeed in life. Our methods, approaches and supports need to continue to adapt to meet the needs of students, their employers and society.
- Improving access to education, including a focus on scholarships, alternative course delivery, inclusivity and recruitment, for both domestic and international students
- Encouraging student wellness by creating an environment that supports and nurtures the student as a whole person
- Promoting and encouraging experiential learning opportunities
- Fostering communication, problem solving, interpersonal, leadership and critical thinking skills in a variety of ways
- Developing new programs, such as course-based masters and articulation agreements, that align our areas of expertise with student goals, market demand, and societal need
- Ensuring instruction is relevant, accessible and engaging, and promoting the adoption, evaluation and improvement of teaching methods and technologies that address the needs of students
- Modernizing infrastructure needed for student success
We define “excellence” as achieving national and international impact through teaching, research and service. For nearly a century and a half, OAC has been a leader in the areas we serve: food, agriculture, communities and the environment. To continue to lead, the pursuit of excellence must always be a priority.
- Promoting excellence in teaching and learning in a rapidly changing environment
- Creating responsive and financially sustainable programs and curriculum that reflect student and market demand
- Supporting faculty and instructors in advancing their pedagogy and teaching skills, while promoting academic integrity
- Valuing intellectual and academic freedom, evidence-based inquiry, and the discovery and application of new knowledge
- Supporting research success, including collaboration, interdisciplinary work, and research in emerging areas
- Collaborating with Indigenous communities to create partnerships and new research, and academic program opportunities that serve reconciliation
- Enhancing the recruitment of high-quality graduate students
- Encouraging engagement and outreach with broad communities to share knowledge, identify research needs, and build connections
Supporting Our People
We will “support our people” to be engaged employees, with leading-edge skills and capacity, who feel valued and are empowered to lead. Our people are the core of our college. Ensuring employee success and engagement is vital to achieving all of our strategic priorities.
- Creating a safe, supportive and respectful environment that fosters equity, diversity and inclusion and dismantles systemic barriers
- Supporting a culture of communication, awareness and connectivity for staff, faculty and students to increase collaboration and the sharing of best practices
- Fostering a culture where people feel valued and motivated
- Recognizing the importance of balancing the demands of work with personal life, and encouraging appropriate workloads, and providing support when and where needed
- Recruiting, retaining and developing exemplary people by encouraging a focus on succession planning, and on equity, diversity and inclusion
We define “organizational effectiveness” as leadership and vision to eliminate barriers, integrate activities, act on opportunities, and monitor progress to stay on track. Stewarding our valued resources is a fundamental element to our success. By working together, we can further enhance our efficiency and impact.
- Ensuring fiscal sustainability:
- Focusing effort on revenue generating activities, and ensuring cost recovery wherever possible
- Allocating our time and energy to deliver on our core accountabilities in the most efficient way, which will include prioritizing some activities over others
- Supporting increased collaboration and partnerships, including the sharing of resources and best practices, leveraging technology to improve workflow, enhancing data access and IT infrastructure, and facilitating a greater integration of Ridgetown and Guelph campus operations
- Fostering transparency, accountability and effective use of resources by:
- Ensuring our people have the right tools, information, data access and decision-making framework to be efficient and effective
- Reducing duplication of effort
- Producing 5-year budget plans for all OAC units annually
- Adopting and integrating financial health planning parameters across all areas, units and campuses
- Supporting the development of strong teams and team capacity
Our Legacy and Reputation
We define “our legacy and reputation” as rich traditions, strong partnerships, engaged alumni and a long history, which we have a responsibility to champion, steward, and leverage.
- Celebrating our history and traditions through the support of alumni events and alumni involvement in our communities
- Using the privilege afforded by our strong reputation to create a more inclusive community
- Telling our stories and communicating the breadth of OAC’s programs, its people and their accomplishments to a broad variety of audiences locally, nationally and globally
- Engaging external stakeholders, including our alumni, as partners in pursuing OAC’s goals
- Leveraging our reputation and history to shape the future of food, agriculture, communities and the environment in positive, inclusive and responsive ways
- Considering and supporting environmental sustainability as a key component of our future legacy
Annual reports on the work completed in support of Our Shared Priorities within the Dean’s Office, OAC’s academic units, Ridgetown Campus and the Arboretum will continue to be released each summer. These reports will serve as important reflections and celebration of the work completed, and showcase accountability to Our Shared Priorities.
In early 2018, the Dean’s Office of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph released a strategic priorities document called Our Shared Priorities. It captured the priorities shared by our community, informed by conversations and broad consultations, and was drafted by a steering committee. The development process included four in-person sessions, an online survey, many meetings and nearly a year and a half of development time.
Since its release, the Dean’s Council Management Group has reported back to the OAC community seven times, showcasing examples of how units, staff and faculty have demonstrated commitment to and support of Our Shared Priorities. You can review the reports for each priority area here:
- Student Success
- Achieving Excellence
- Supporting Our People
- Organizational Effectiveness
- Our Legacy and Reputation
This webpage was updated on March 20, 2023.