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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Realizing Envision

Realizing Envision TRU 2023 — 2026

Integrated Strategic Planning Update, June 2023

I’m pleased to share with you the results of TRU’s Integrated Strategic Planning (ISP) for 2023-2026. Of the 29 initial submissions, eight projects were selected for funding. These eight projects, which will be brought together in a shared commitment to fostering inclusive and intensive student cohorts with a focus on land-based learning, research-informed curriculum, and experiential learning.

Together these eight projects will intersect in key ways to provide students with a unique TRU experience that reflects our commitment to Indigenous ways of knowing, sustainability, and undergraduate research. Together these projects all value mentorship, fostering student belonging and resilience, and inspiring emerging researchers and leaders.

Through this 3-year initiative, TRU aims to enhance the university experience of students across the interior region, who live in rural communities or those who have experienced barriers to post-secondary education. Across academic programs, faculty will foster a sense of belonging, and nurture academic and research excellence for upper-year students.

The initiative will bring together the following ISP projects:

  • Sen7kiw: All My Relations Indigenous Research Centre: Throughout this project, All My Relations (AMR) researchers will focus on high-impact practices for retention by directly mentoring students starting from high-school level, moving into the Knowledge Makers program, then to research assistants, and graduate level studies. AMR will also continue its central advisory role in the development of pan-institutional healing from the land approaches to first year student experiences at TRU.
  • Arts Cohort Project: An enriched first-year arts curriculum will offer faculty mentorship and hands-on learning opportunities for students focused on decolonization and Indigenization. TRU Library will be a key partner in supporting students as they begin their undergraduate studies.
  • Environmental Research and Teaching Collaboration: This initiative aims to bring environmental studies courses at TRU together to provide students with field-based research opportunities across the interior region such as Wells Gray. This will also raise the profile of the research excellence at TRU, inspire students to engage with Indigenous ways of knowing about land management and climate change impacts.
  • Honours College: This project will establish an interdisciplinary honours program across six faculties offering a depth of research experiences, and themed based courses. With a focus on inclusive and accessible excellence that serves the interior region, the small cohorts of students will experience opportunities for enriched, community engaged learning grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing.
  • Research-Hub: This will focus on creation of curriculum embedded research opportunities and faculty mentoring on how to bring community engaged research into their course design. The research hub will support all project teams to facilitate research skill development with students.
  • Decolonizing and Indigenizing PLAR: This team will continue its development of a decolonized prior learning assessment methodology. Piloted with the Faculty of Arts, PLAR experts will develop portfolios for the recognition of Indigenous learning to be scaffolded into academic credit.
  • TRU Open Press: Students and faculty will co-create and disseminate research, provide opportunities and support for development of open-source course materials such as zero cost textbooks, and create student internships in open press editing and production.
  • Livable Cities, Collaborative Communities: This initiative is being launched as part of a conference bringing internationally recognized climate change and environmental scientist researchers to Kamloops. Following the conference, students, faculty, community stakeholders, governments, and local businesses, and non-profit organizations across the interior region will work together to develop workshops, discussions, and events around sustainability and community resilience.

In the coming months, we will focus on developing an integrated structure, align resource needs, and devise marketing and recruitment strategies. We anticipate welcoming our first cohort of students for the Fall 2026 semester.

I want to thank the many people who have contributed to the development of this initiative.

I believe we will show the value and power of integrated strategic planning and will help TRU reach its 10-year strategic change goals.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions as we move forward with this exciting venture.

Gillian Balfour - Provost and Vice-President Academic

A decade of integrated strategic planning

Since the transformation of Thompson Rivers University into a teaching and research focused institution in 2005, TRU has grown its capacity for integrated strategic planning through participatory and evidence-based practice. TRU’s first Academic Plan (2011) set out four academic priority areas as well as TRU’s pan-institutional foundations.

Envision

In winter 2019, the President and Vice Chancellor launched Envision with the goal to develop TRU’s first vision statement with a 10-year horizon. The year-long process encompassed five phases with increasingly focused input culminating in Board approval in Spring 2020. The Envision process was guided by extensive community consultation and resulted in the affirmation of our mission statement, a 10-year vision statement that includes four values and the determination of TRU’s four strategic change goals.

Envision

Current integrated strategic planning process: Realizing Envision 2023–2026

Realizing Envision began in March 2021 with the production of the green paper that outlined a framework for TRU’s integrated planning model and how it would be used to advance the vision, mission and values of the Envision process, as well as how, as an institution, we would begin to operationalize our change goals.

Realizing Envision planning activities (2021–2022)

Several priority-setting and planning activities were undertaken to identify priorities, objectives and projects that support achievement of the strategic change goals. These activities included the generation of 27 unit maps across our Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses and in Open Learning. These maps documented objectives, enablers and constraints that impact the attainment of strategic priorities. A natural language processing of unit maps was completed to assist with the delineation of key terms across all maps. The President’s Executive was guided through a familiarization activity of the themes from the unit maps. The ISP Project Team was guided through a sorting activity of the themes to identify priorities for implementation. Senate-approved pan-institutional plans were reviewed to assess alignment between existing plans and our change goals. Institutional data were also reviewed to assess student experience and student mental health. Finally, a review of our partnership agreements was conducted to ensure our integrated strategic planning processes are consistent with the commitments we have made to serve our local, regional, national and international communities.

Where did the planning activities lead?

Upon arrival of TRU’s new Provost and Vice President Academic, Dr. Gillian Balfour, in July 2022, a review of planning activities was completed to identify strategic priorities for the next three years (2023-2026). This review of planning activities occurred through a central lens provided by the Partnership Agreement with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and recognition of our institutional context including our commitment to UNDRIP and the TRC Calls to Action, our provincial mandate and responsibility to open and regional access, our relationship with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and our membership as a research university in the Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia (RUCBC). Through this contextual lens, we also considered the core activities of TRU, including academic program development and delivery, community engaged research, student recruitment and retention, and sustainable and safe built environments.

Strategic priorities and objectives

Strategic priority Strategic objective
Student success and research innovation through inclusive excellence in research faculty and staff recruitment By 2033 TRU will successfully recruit and retain 200 new tripartite faculty and 100 staff. We will aim to recruit from equity deserving groups.
Eliminate achievement gaps across different groups of learners, and honour truth, reconciliation and rights.TRU will measurably eliminate achievement gaps and honour truth, reconciliation and rights by developing, implementing and evaluating a holistic belonging model that addresses academic, material and cultural needs of our learners.
To be recognized provincially, nationally, and internationally for our unique academic and trades programs that provide students with flexible learning pathways, experiential opportunities and community research.We will develop, implement and evaluate an Academic and Open Learning plan that reflects our commitment to accessible, research-informed curriculum, experiential learning, and Trades and Technology

Lunch and learn workshops

General intro to project evaluation Part 1

Data to Wisdom: How to know you are making an impact

Evaluations are most effective before the implementation of your project begins; front-end planning is important. Join your IPE colleagues to gain the foundational knowledge you need to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of your project. Upon completion of this session, you will have a visual representation of your project and will be equipped with tools to continue planning your project. This session is suitable for all stages of project planning.

View the workshop templates

View the workshop recording

General intro to project evaluation Part 2

Building on Part 1, this session will show participants how to frame evaluation questions, select appropriate evaluation designs, methods for data collection and analysis to answer evaluation questions. Upon completion of this session, you will have a draft evaluation plan for your project that will guide your data collection activities. This session is suitable for all stages of project planning.

View the workshop templates

View the workshop recording

Information and resources that may help you with project design evaluation

Are you wondering what data TRU collects about TRU students that might be useful for your project? Join your IPE colleagues to learn more about institutional data available to you, including research on student experience, enrolment data, projections and more. If you require more information, IPE will be happy to assist you with submitting your data request. This session is suitable for all stages of project planning.

View the workshop recording

Embedding integrated planning into your project

Are you wondering about how to translate the concepts of vertical and horizontal alignment to practice and embed them into your impact evaluation plans? How to create indicators that are reflective of alignment to the change goals, strategic objectives and your collaborators? In this session you will receive tools, practical tips and templates on how to design projects with integrated planning concepts. This session is suitable for all stages of project planning.

View the workshop templates

View the workshop recording

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are only tripartite faculty identified in Strategic Priority #1?

As a member of the Research University Council of British Columbia , TRU is committed to establishing excellence in a variety of areas identified in our Strategic Research Plan. Our goal is to achieve equity between bipartite and tripartite faculty complement size, and to align our tripartite faculty recruitment to our strategic research areas.

RUCBC includes UBC Vancouver, UBC Okanagan, SFU, UVic, UNBC and Royal Roads University.

Are the 200 faculty and 100 staff positions in addition to all vacant positions we currently have?

In 2025, TRU will move to a five-year budget model. This will allow Deans and Directors to plan for sustained and prioritized faculty and staff hirings that are strategically aligned with TRU’s research plan and unit level strategic plans. This will replace the annual allocation of several faculty positions that in some areas have gone unfilled. Past practice shows that annual expenditure-based budgeting results in positions not being filled, and salary savings serving as the largest portion of our annual surplus.

Can ISP funding be used to directly hire new tripartite faculty and staff?

ISP funding is intended to support the development of services and resources to achieve better recruitment and retention of research faculty, and staff from equity deserving groups. For example, to better support Indigenous research faculty with robust grant administration support services; to host a national or international academic conference to raise the profile of TRU; to pilot a faculty relations strategy that assists new scholars in establishing connections to TRU, Kamloops, and the region.

If a program wishes to create a new LTC or tenure track tripartite position to introduce a new research area, or grow an existing research area, that position can be funded for up to three years under ISP. However, that position then becomes part of the program’s five-year budget for ongoing funding. Strategic hiring decisions over five years will have to include that position.

Are project teams made up of individuals or units?

The intent of integrated planning is to bring different units and programs together who share similar objectives. Individuals will represent their units or academic programs and be part of the project teams. The relevant Director, AVP, or Deans must sign off on the project proposal prior to submission so there is a shared understanding and support for the work being done by staff, faculty, and administration. The project team budget allocations are held in the Provost's office, not the various service units or academic units.

How does ISP support our strategic enrollment strategy for domestic students?

SEM is a shared responsibility – from our recruitment team who establishes connections to future students, to our faculty in classrooms whose pedagogies are engaging and inclusive, to the spaces on campus that are culturally meaningful, and to our research excellence that brings opportunities for students in the community. All strategic priorities identified for 2023-2026 are ultimately linked to providing students with a meaningful university experience whether online, in the classroom, or accessing services.

Can ISP be used to propose and fund a new research centre at TRU?

Research centres are guided by the Research Groups and Centres Policy (BRD 21-0), as well as the Strategic Research Plan. Proposed research centres must align with governance and planning documents as well as ISP objectives. Please consult with the Office of Research if you have further questions on the specific requirements of a research centre at TRU.

Are other materials, such as letters of support or ancillary examples scholarly articles, recommended to be included with proposals?

No additional materials have been requested or expected to be provided. Please do not attach ancillary documents with project proposals. We are only seeking a seven-page document that addresses the specific areas identified on the template provided.

Do we have to use the form fillable templated document when writing up our project proposals?

Teams can use the identified areas of the template provided, as subheadings in a word document. The page length remains the same, and a budget must be provided.

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