IV. Where are we now?
a) Environmental Scan
Beginning any institutional strategic planning process with an environmental scan is critical in that it ensures that the organization is looking forward:
- In June 2008 the Brescia University College Council of Trustees approved “A Vision for the Future: Brescia’s Master Plan, 2008-2020.”
- In the summer of 2008 Brescia engaged a market research firm to collect and analyze data identifying the needs of potential Brescia students.
- In the winter of 2009 Brescia retained an architectural services firm to gather additional data resulting in a capital needs assessment.
- This research culminated in the hiring of a leading North American consultant in post-secondary educational positioning, and Brescia embarked on a rigorous process of rebranding.
b) Brescia Positioning for the Future
Deriving from these reports, surveys, and disciplined rebranding process were truths about Brescia and the position we hold within post-secondary education. These truths now guide us in our every day work and have provided a wealth of information that has informed this strategic planning process.
From these insights we have come to recognize that we have a truly distinctive positioning as Canada’s only women’s university, founded in 1919 on the Ursuline values of compassion, community involvement, and leadership for women. We are the embodiment of “living leadership” not simply paying lip service to the concept. Our faculty, staff members, and students are committed to making a difference in the broad community of which we form a part. We believe that women can make a difference in the world. Individually and collectively, we are committed to living our lives with our four brand attributes firmly in mind: student centred; compassionate; invigorating; and empowering. Academic programming and extra- and co-curricular learning are increasingly built around these concepts, as is all planning. We value the concept of protecting our world and are committed to learning more about environmentalism. Plans for the future will be shaped around becoming careful stewards of the earth.
As is the case for all post-secondary institutions in Canada, and even globally, we inhabit an increasingly competitive landscape and are committed to continuing our efforts to heighten awareness about our unique offerings to students. Decreased government funding, an economy that is only slowly recovering from the recession, and the needs of today’s Millennial students, contribute to the challenges faced by post-secondary institutions today. And Brescia, like all affiliated and federated universities, struggles with its semi-autonomous position. These institutions need to work harder to gain acceptance for independent vision, growth, and external profile. Brescia is aware of these external factors and constraints and Living Leadership addresses them boldly and with the conviction that present change will lead to future success.
We are confident that our “product” in the post-secondary arena is unparalleled. Distinguishing traits and characteristics for Brescia include: future plans for expansion – both in terms of student numbers, academic programming, and facilities; our leadership position in certain niche areas, including Foods and Nutrition; our innovative partnerships; and a distinctive positioning as Canada’s only university for women and how that enables us to redefine women’s education. These all contribute to make us a unique destination for students, both domestically and internationally, and provide us with a strong strategic advantage.