Looking ahead with UW’s president

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Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, has been re-appointed to his position for a second term lasting from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2021. Following his re-election, Hamdullahpur spoke to Imprint to reflect on the university’s achievements since he was appointed in 2011, and comment on what to expect in the coming years.

Looking back 

“The big thing I believe I’m very proud of, together with my colleagues and every member of this campus community, is how we built our strategic plan,” Hamdullahpur said, reflecting on his current term’s achievements. “The strategic plan is very important — many universities have strategic plans, ours is different. Ours definitely recognizes where we have been, who we are. Ours understands and respects how this university came about, and came to be a very special, very unique university. But it also understands the challenges, opportunities, the world outside, the changing world, and how it aligns the university, connected to its past, and where it is going, so that we will remain a very important institution to our students and to the whole world.”

University of Waterloo’s strategic plan emphasizes eight areas of interest: experiential education, entrepreneurship, transformational research, outstanding academic programming, a global outlook, vibrant student experience, robust employer-employee relationship, and a sound value system. Of those eight, experiential education, entrepreneurship, and transformational research are considered “distinguishing strengths” that specifically consider University of Waterloo’s unique circumstances.

The current strategic plan was put in place in 2013 and continues until 2018, when a new plan will be implemented. Though the plan is not yet complete, a progress tracker is available online at uwaterloo.ca/strategic-plan/in-action/, providing relevant statistics and a log of what changes are being made to meet the strategic plan’s goals.

Looking ahead 

Switching the topic to the changes to come, Hamdullahpur emphasized the changes in curriculum, specifically in a broadened availability of courses for students to take. He also said students would benefit from increased co-op and research opportunities, as well as physical additions to the campus such as new academic buildings, the SLC-PAC expansion, and additional student space such as the outdoor seating space currently under construction by the Grad House.

“What we would like to see eventually, on this campus and beyond, is a better established intellectual environment for our students, whether they want to learn things so they can go and practice those, whether they would use that to further enhance their learning by following graduate studies, or do things that will [help them] go on their own in the form of entrepreneurship and startups. The campus will be a much better and more accommodating environment for our students from those perspectives,“ Hamdullahpur said.

A message from the president

Hamdullahpur ended the interview with a message to the student body:

“I thank our students for, first, deciding to continue as a student, deciding to go to university…. Second, I thank them for coming to the University of Waterloo. I thank them for staying through their challenging times and everything, that they stick to it. But mostly, I’m very grateful and I’m very proud of them when they go out and make a big difference as University of Waterloo alumni. That’s what I want to tell them, that their decision, the very first decision, until they graduate from here and continue, is making the difference. It’s improving lives, it’s improving economy, it’s doing all kinds of things that not just me, all my colleagues and everybody in our society, we are grateful for. They are building the future. I truly mean that. That’s my motivation, that’s the reason why I get up in the morning. I can’t wait to come to work or go do things because I know that these students — you — are going to make a big difference. So that’s the message I want to give to our students, that we’re very proud to have them here, and it’s our number one job and responsibility to make sure we’re providing them with the best opportunities to excel.”

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