President Elizabeth Cannon speaking in front of hundreds of the university community on Oct. 2.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

Eyes High looking good so far

Cannon launches second year of strategic plan at community report

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It was just last year that the University of Calgary unveiled its goal of becoming a top-five research institution in Canada by 2016 as part of Eyes High, a five-year strategic plan initially released in fall 2011. Since then, the university has seen many achievements.

“It was one year ago that we came together . . . to launch the Eyes High strategy. That was our commitment to ambitious goals that is going to set us apart as we move to our 50th anniversary,” said U of C president Elizabeth Cannon at a community report on Oct. 2. 

At the report, the university announced new initiatives as part the strategy. Over the next year, the 
U of C will hire 50 assistant professors and 60 postdoctoral scholars. The university has also announced plans to build an institute of teaching and learning.

“We are well on our way to be able to ensure that we reach our goals,” said Cannon. “We are going to hold ourselves to the highest standards, nationally and internationally.”

Cannon said that the combination of research, teaching and the student experience is the backbone of Eyes High. 

“We want to ensure we create an environment for all of you to reach your potential. We want to ensure we are leading the way in integrating teaching and research,” said Cannon. “Research informs teaching, teaching informs research and we want to make sure we are looking at how we can bring those 

In the initial stages of Eyes High, research was the main priority. However, the university administration and the Students’ Union consulted the university community and developed a strategic roadmap, released in April 2011, that ensured all aspects of learning and research would be taken into account.

Cannon said Eyes High looks at the needs of all members of the 
U of C.

“We heard from our students — they want us focused on teaching. We heard from our faculty — they want to be supported in the classroom,” said Cannon. “We want our students to have a great experience inside and outside the classroom.”

Cannon said the new institute of teaching and learning, which does not have an estimated cost at this time, will ensure that students and faculty are supported.

“So this is going to be innovative and transformative in terms of looking at ways to integrate teaching and learning and making sure our students are supported,” said Cannon.

Cannon said investing in new faculty members and postdoctoral scholars will boost the U of C’s learning and research capacity.

“We are going to hire 50 new assistant professors here at the [U of C], which is really going to transform the academy in terms of bringing in young, creative scholars,” said Cannon. “We are going to invest in 60 new postdoctoral scholars, and they are a key part of the research enterprise. We’ve got to grow our capacity and having postdoctoral scholars from around the world to come to be a part of the research teams is really going to give us a lift.”

Cannon said these new initiatives fall directly in line with the goals presented in Eyes High.

SU president Hardave Birk is very optimistic about the Eyes High strategy and its achievements so far. He said as Calgary grows, the U of C should also expand.

“There is a lot of momentum in this city and here at this university especially. After Eyes High was unveiled, I think there was a lot of things happening on campus that truly make us know that this is becoming one of Canada’s most forward-thinking institutions,” said Birk. “We are in one of the fastest growing cities in North America, and there is opportunity surrounding us in literally every direction.”

First-year U of C astrophysics student Tara Strickland said the Eyes High goal of being a top-five research university by 2016 is attainable. She said research is a very important aspect of education.

“We are really academically inclined right now and it seems like a reachable goal,” said 
Strickland. “I think research is a huge part of school. Research is important in building the curriculum and the academic schedule. So I feel it is as equally important as learning in class.”