Report on the Strategic Plan 2014–2019
The present annual report reviews our progress toward the objectives identified in our strategic plan 2014–2019, entitled This Is the Face of Change. The strategic plan reflects Saint Paul University’s mission to contribute creatively to the humanization of society:
- As a Catholic institution, we are dedicated to promoting the understanding of the Christian faith, its integration into daily life, and the values of Christian humanism in a spirit of ecumenical openness.
- As a bilingual institution, we seek to provide a favourable environment for our English- and French-speaking communities, with particular attention to the richness of our cultural diversity.
- As a centre of higher learning, working in partnership with other institutions, we strive to promote excellence in teaching, research, and professional development.
The work of our steering committees culminated in 2014 with the approval of our strategic plan, which identifies five strategic priorities:
- renewed programs of study;
- activities that encourage students to continue their studies;
- commitment to a comprehensive education with easy access to services;
- outstanding staff competence and influence;
- community engagement.
Building on our strategic plan, the action plan guides and engages our administrative, teaching and support staff in reaching our objectives. Our latest assessment indicates that the University is on track to achieve those objectives.
1. Renewed programs of study
Saint Paul University’s main priority is to offer better, more relevant services that meet the needs of society, reflecting our commitment to the study of the human experience from various perspectives. Here are some examples of programs created in recent years: Certificate in Conflict Resolution, Honours BA in Human Relations and Spirituality, Honours BA in Social Communication, Honours BA with Major in Conflict Studies, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Theological Studies in Eastern Christian Studies, Master of Divinity, Master of Divinity in Eastern Christian Studies, and Master of Divinity in Anglican Studies. Furthermore, Additional Qualifications in Religious Education, offered for the first time in French, complete the picture.
Graduate diplomas are popular among students who wish to specialize in a particular field, upgrade their existing qualifications, or explore a topic of personal interest in more depth, but also among those who are already in the workplace, want to return to school or are considering a career change. Graduate diplomas, which can be completed either in one year of full-time studies, or part-time or by distance learning, are often a springboard to studies at the master’s level. The Graduate Diploma in Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship was introduced in 2015, and the Graduate Diploma in Supportive Care and Spirituality in Palliation in 2016.
Working in partnership with other institutions allows us to maximize our resources, demonstrate creativity, and better serve the student population by offering more courses, programs and approaches that promote both mobility and the recognition of previous credits. We are thus able to meet the needs of the Church, society and government by increasing efficiency in the education system. To that end, we have signed agreements with the University of Sudbury for courses in philosophy, with the Dominican University College (located in Ottawa) for courses in philosophy, theology and Latin, and with Laval University for courses in theology.
In addition, we have established a significant number of student articulation agreements with the following colleges: La Cité, Boréal, St. Lawrence and Algonquin. These agreements allow for the recognition of up to 60 credits in Conflict Studies, Public Ethics, Social Communication, and Human Relations. An articulation agreement was also signed with the University of Hearst for the Master’s in Counselling and Spirituality. Finally, through an agreement with the Broken Bay Institute, Saint Paul University is authorized to offer its Canon Law programs in Australia.
2. Activities that encourage students to continue their studies
The retention of students from various school systems is facilitated through links with their high schools. Every opportunity to offer students a classroom experience at Saint Paul University is a gateway for them to post-secondary education; every Saint Paul University campus tour facilitates their transition to university, and helps guidance counsellors and parents become more familiar with our programs. For this reason, we have developed Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) programs in conjunction with local school boards, and offered them to their students on the Saint Paul University campus. In the same way, we have offered dozens of workshops to this same clientele in leadership, conflict resolution, public ethics and social communication, in addition to bullying forums that attracted hundreds of students. Finally, our open houses—one in the fall and one in the winter—and the “Student for a Day” program are becoming more and more successful.
Similarly, the international recruitment sector is rapidly expanding. Various on-the-ground initiatives have enabled our university to better target our activities and use our resources more efficiently. By partially waiving tuition fees for international Francophone students, Saint Paul University has made considerable inroads into French-speaking countries around the world.
In addition, our process for welcoming international students has given rise to several initiatives: presence at the airport to greet international students on arrival; one-day information sessions each semester to encourage exchanges and create connections among new students; mentorship by experienced students to reduce international students’ potential isolation and facilitate their integration; training for faculty and staff on how to interact with international students; and creation of African, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian clubs that provide peer support during welcoming and orientation.
3. Commitment to a comprehensive education with easy access to services
Every effort must be made to support students in their academic studies. Several services to support academic success have been implemented, refined and expanded, including counselling and pastoral services and an Academic Writing Help Centre. In addition, the library offers a variety of academic success workshops to familiarize students with the library’s content and helps them use its research and learning tools.
Another way to ensure greater access is to give students the choice between distance learning and in-class learning. The need for continuing education is increasingly recognized, and Saint Paul University is well positioned in this area of learning. For instance, the Faculty of Theology offers an online certificate program comprised of ten courses, as well as a series of lectures (also available online) on topics of general interest.
For its part, the Faculty of Canon Law has also offered webinars but to a more specialized clientele, in addition to on-campus and distance seminars on such topics as canonization, clinical psychology in relation to marriage, sacred orders and consecrated life, and the promulgation of the revised marriage law.
The Saint Paul University Library, the most prestigious theological and canon law library in Canada, must meet the needs of the entire university community: students, researchers and professors. Thanks to a partnership with the University of Ottawa library, we have increased our offer of services and the efficiency of our operations, notably through an interlibrary loan system. As well, the Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre has moved to the second floor of the student residence, into completely renovated premises that meet the standards of the profession. Finally, funds were raised to establish a Student Life Centre and a Social Innovation Entrepreneurship Incubator, both scheduled to open in 2017.
4. Outstanding staff competence and influence
To remain relevant, each program of study must be fuelled by top-quality research. Accordingly, Saint Paul University aims to be a world leader in our areas of specialization. For example, our six research centres and five research chairs held a large number of activities: conferences, symposia, seminars, reading and discussion groups, book launches, article publications and many more. In fact, the entire faculty contributes to Saint Paul University’s visibility.
At the same time, we cannot overlook the teaching aspect. Each program of study must therefore be designed as a genuine, student-focused pedagogical project based on the principle of transformation. This serves as a kind of contract between Saint Paul University and our students. That is why anticipated learning outcomes are clearly identified for each program and course. Moreover, the work of part-time professors is now better supervised, and everyone is invited to participate actively in course and curriculum development.
Administrative staff also play a key role at Saint Paul University. Our academic and administrative services to students have been praised as relevant, up-to-date and efficient. While these services require continuous monitoring and updating, the efforts made in recent years are reflected in a very high level of student satisfaction.
5. Community engagement
Saint Paul University has always emphasized the inclusion and participation of organizations that promote community and social development. Our University already partners with associations and groups that serve the community (community garden, YOUCAN, ACUFC, Goethe Institute, CICR, SSF, OPÉCO), and participates in initiatives such as Discovery University for the disadvantaged and Youth Futures for high-school youth from disadvantaged families or communities.
Community engagement is a key element of our identity and our mission, and is expressed in multiple ways, including notably the placement of our students in organizations that share our values. An internship office set up for this purpose offers internship courses in all programs of study.
Until now, Saint Paul University has not taken full advantage of the relationships between our research chairs, research centres and professors and the wider community. Many of our professor-researchers specialize in such areas as sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, conflict resolution, the role of social media, and other fields of study that are of public concern. To strengthen our reputation, Saint Paul University has increased our public presence and visibility, both in newspapers and magazines and in social media, which we are fully exploiting. We have also coordinated several international outreach initiatives, especially in Haiti, where our professors teach future trainers every year. The establishment of the Centre for Canonical Services also serves this goal.
The Summer Institute in New Evangelization, a summer school for those seeking an accelerated, targeted and accredited program, was created in partnership with Catholic Christian Outreach and has met with a very positive response.