World famous businessman and financier Warren Buffet once said, “In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” The University of Saskatchewan is an academic institution, a place of learning that is more than simply a business. But Mr. Buffet’s words are worth some reflection in academe as well.
As I’m sure any historian will tell you, contemplating the past is crucial to society; it gives vital context to the present. It is often said that without an understanding of the past, we are apt to repeat history’s mistakes. To progress, we must understand where we have been and how we got to where we are. We need to look honestly and sincerely into the proverbial rearview mirror.
It is in looking back into our past, our traditions, our university’s culture over the past 100 years, our strategic directions and our integrated planning cycles that we are able to look to the future with renewed clarity—and that is what the Institutional Positioning Project has done for us.
A year-and-a-half of introspection and intense consultation has given a clear picture of the university’s strengths as an institution of higher learning. Discussions with diverse groups of people—alumni, leading faculty, top prospective graduate and undergraduate students to name just a few—all had common threads. Time and time again we heard the U of S fosters a collaborative and dynamic learning environment, we provide freedom and support to push the boundaries of knowledge, our inter-disciplinary approach allows us to think differently about the issues surrounding our society, and our determination and dedication allow us to be leaders in many specialties, particularly in understanding human and other living systems.
Our context, consultation and reflection give us a clearer sense of who we are as an institution, what we offer and how we can fulfill the vision of Walter Murray, the university’s first president, and achieve “an honoured place among the best.”
Peter MacKinnon, President
University of Saskatchewan