Envision TRU enters its final phase
As Envision TRU enters its fifth and final phase, it is hard to believe we’re approaching a year since we first began this journey together of imagining the future of Thompson Rivers University. I want to thank everyone who participated through almost a year of conversations, online and in groups, large and small, and those who helped distill this all into a final draft Vision Statement. This draft will go to our governing bodies - the Senate, the Planning Council for Open Learning and the Board of Governors - for consideration in March.
We have posted the draft Vision Statement here for everyone to see what they have helped shape and create. It’s an important document, founded on feedback received through Envision TRU, and it will guide our future for the next 10 years.
We’ve also included Frequently Asked Questions to address questions you may have, including where we go next.
The Vision Statement comprises four sections—our vision, our values, our goals and our mission. The first three are new and based on what we heard through the consultation process; the mission is our current mission, but with one important modification, also based on feedback. As you read the document, I would encourage you to consider the following.
- The vision is intentionally brief and bold—it characterizes the kind of university we aspire to be
- The values express our identity, the things that will always be important to us, and our expectations of each other—how we want to be and work together.
- And the strategic change goals are major steps to get us there—they are our focus for university-wide change, informing our planning and decisions for the next decade.
Additionally, you will find Secwepemctsín words and concepts throughout the Vision Statement, and a strategic change goal focused on Indigenous learners and communities. This reflects what we heard throughout Envision TRU, across all participating groups, that Indigenization is one of the most important tasks in TRU’s near future. Participants raised it as a top priority; then we dug deep with Indigenous thinkers and leaders to articulate what it means. Through the strategic change goals we will properly serve all learners and all communities while being respectful guests in Secwépemc territory.
All the strategic change goals will stretch us as a university in good ways. It is no small thing to create a university where everyone belongs, where faculty and students show the rest of the world how to partner for learning and research in communities, and where we design all modes and types of learning thoughtfully and intentionally around the changing lifetime needs of learners. TRU’s past accomplishments mean we are poised to take these next big steps. I am very excited to be part of it.
I encourage you to read the draft Vision Statement, and perhaps read it a second or third time to capture the depth of meaning and conversation that has occurred the past year. It is not only the president’s Vision Statement, but rather it is ours together.
Brett Fairbairn, President and Vice-ChancellorEnvision TRU Presentation
Frequently Asked Questions
Envision TRU was a year-long conversation in which 2,800 people told us what they valued about TRU, where TRU should focus on in the future, and the “must haves” of a made-in-TRU vision statement. Throughout the process, people asked questions, and we responded. Following are answers to the questions we encountered the most.
1. Why did it take a year to generate two pages?
Thompson Rivers University is a complex organization. We employ 2,000+ faculty and staff, serve more than 25,000 students on campus, online and offshore in hundreds of undergraduate and graduate programs and courses, and collaborate with private and public, local and global organizations on various matters. To ensure all these groups and individuals had ample opportunity to share their thoughts with us, we took our time. As a result, we were honoured to receive responses from almost 3,000 participants through 15 online forums, 15 written submissions and 107 small and large group discussions in four cities. The volume of material generated was immense; and the value we gained was immeasurable.
2. This vision looks different from others I’ve seen. Why is that?
If you search the Internet for visions, you’ll find some that are short (e.g. “A just world without poverty” -- Oxfam) and some that are longer (e.g. “We will be acclaimed as a university community that works together across disciplines and diverse perspectives to prepare student scholars to thrive, compete, innovate and lead in their professional and personal lives. We will engage every student in applied learning that links theory with practice, connects to the distinctive natural and cultural environments of Hawai‘i, and promotes skilled participation in a global society.”—University of Hawai’i). Ours is somewhere in between but, more importantly—ours reflects who we are, just as Oxfam’s and the University of Hawai’i’s reflects who they are. Additionally, our vision aligns with the recommendations of a discussion with 30 TRU students, faculty, staff and community members who advised us that TRU’s vision must be brief, inspiring and specific to who and where we are. (They also had some thoughts on what a good TRU values and strategic goals should be. You’ll find their key recommendations in the Vision Statement PowerPoint presentation.
3. Why is ‘belonging’ so central to the TRU vision?
TRU is different from any other university. We offer educational opportunities for a wide range of learners, and support them to succeed starting from where they are now. Paraphrasing the words of our president, “If you haven’t finished high school yet, you belong here. If you are drawn to the trades, you belong here. If you are curious about, or conduct research that affects communities, you belong here. If ‘life happens’ and you need to take time away from studies without fear of being penalized, you belong here. If you want credit for what you learned at work, you belong here. If you are a single parent, an Indigenous person or someone who lives far away from the hustle and bustle, you belong here. If you want the learning to last for your lifespan, you belong here. If you want to make a difference in your life, other people’s lives or the life of the planet, you belong here.” But to us, belonging is not just about offering people pathways for learning. It is also about ensuring that when they connect with us, they connect to a solid network of support where they are valued, cared for and encouraged at every step of their learning journey. ‘Belonging’ also signifies that when people join TRU, they are welcomed into a community that is rooted in and enriched by the places we are located. That’s why ‘belonging’ is so central to our vision.
4. This Vision Statement includes references to serving Indigenous learners and incorporates Secwépemc concepts, words and phrases. Why is that?
As early as the first phase of the Envision TRU consultation process, people started commenting on the importance of indigenization at TRU—and the frequency and conviction behind participants’ comments only grew in subsequent phases. The strong thread of indigenization woven through the Vision Statement directly responds to these many voices. It also reflects the advice of Indigenous thinkers and leaders whose guidance we sought to interpret and integrate what we heard in a respectful way. From them, we learned that we need to give special recognition to our hosts on whose unceded territories our campuses are located: the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc in Kamloops as our First House and the T’exelc in Williams Lake and area as our Second House. Both these locations lie within Secwepemcúlucw, the land from which the Secwépemc people come. We understand that to honour our hosts in this way is respectful protocol, and is a prerequisite to engaging responsibly with other Indigenous peoples in nearby regions and throughout the world. In addition to the Secwépemc we also acknowledge and serve other nearby Indigenous peoples such as the Stat’imc, Nlaka’pamux, Tsilh’qotin, Nuxalk, and Dakelh as well as Métis communities.
5. What do the Secwépemc words mean?
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ted Gottfriedson, Garry Gottfriedson and Paul Michel in developing definitions for the Secwepemctsín terms in the document. The following definitions are based on their guidance:
- Kw’seltktenéws: we are all related—all living things, the environment, ecosystem, etc. This invokes English ideas of collegiality, friendship, teamwork, taking care of each other and the land.
- Xyemstwécw: respecting one another. The first part of this word refers to “huge”, or “big”. The second part of the word refers to “self”, and the c (shh sound) on the end refers to soul. Together, this means recognizing the soul that is within you. In English, we call this concept “respect”, and it is also related to collaboration, openness, and a culture of care.
- Pelkw̓ílc-kt es knucwentwécw-kt: coming together to help one another.
We are developing a website with more information on the Secwépemc culture, history and language, including phonetic pronunciations of key words and phrases.
6. Is TRU’s Vision Statement the same as a strategic plan?
No. Our Vision Statement—comprising our vision, values, strategic goals and updated mission—presents a star to guide us over a 10-year period, to reach the future we have collectively imagined. Once the Vision Statement is finalized, an Integrated Strategic Planning process will follow to translate our strategic goals into concrete plans and specific projects that we can accomplish in shorter time frames.