Peter MacKinnon, President, University of Saskatchewan
As the University of Saskatchewan prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, President Peter MacKinnon is looking ahead - to chart a bold new course for the institution. It's been three years since MacKinnon took over as President. He's been inspired, and has developed a long-term strategic plan for the U of S.
"Our university community has continued to be inspired by the bold dream of our founders," says MacKinnon. "Now is the time for the University of Saskatchewan to renew that dream. We stand at a defining moment in our history, one that calls for decisive choices and action."
MacKinnon has been working diligently to produce the University of Saskatchewan Strategic Directions Statement. He has based this initiative on his assessment of the current university environment. The roots of the university are important to MacKinnon who wants to renew the dream the founders had in 1907.
"Those university pioneers were guided by a vision: a wide range of first-class academic and professional programs, scholarships and outreach on a campus of outstanding beauty, in a province of tremendous potential," MacKinnon adds. As the 21st century continues onwards, the university environment is continually changing. Students and faculty are challenged to become global citizens and to use knowledge as their "currency," says MacKinnon.
He believes there are three inter-related features that will carry the university into the future: high international standards, academic pre-eminence, and a strong sense of place. The U of S must continue to expand its borders and measure itself on an international level. "Academic programs will be assessed against the standards of the best," which will allow students to succeed in professional careers worldwide. In terms of academic pre-eminence, MacKinnon warns that the U of S cannot aspire to be outstanding in all areas but should look to "provide excellent programming... in a few well chosen areas."
Remembering where the university grew from is important to MacKinnon as he looks to re-define the sense of place at the U of S. He will look to partner with groups such as government, Aboriginal organizations, industry, international sectors, and of course the campus community.
MacKinnon has highlighted four areas he believes need to be developed in order to achieve the strategic plan.
- Attracting and retaining outstanding faculty because they are an "investment in the future."
- Increasing campus-wide commitments to research, scholarly and artistic work which was identified as a top priority in the 1998 Framework for Planning document.
- Establishing the U of S as a major presence in graduate education to promote "scholarly enterprise," enthusiasm, and vitality in the community.
- Recruit a diverse and academically promising student body and commit to preparing them for success in the knowledge age.
As MacKinnon continues to plan a new course for the university, he's anchoring new ideas, with what worked in the past, and challenging both himself and his colleagues to find new ways to lead the U of S to the forefront of academic distinction. MacKinnon will take his vision to the Board of Governors, Senate and University Council later this spring.