Our values — academic freedom, accountability, creativity, engagement, professionalism and respect — are woven throughout the fabric of this Strategic Plan and, in aggregate, they represent the foundational characteristics that have attracted, and continue to attract, students, faculty and staff regionally, nationally and internationally to MSVU.
Building on our history, and our 2017 Strategic Plan, MSVU continues our commitment to the advancement of women and girls, to other underrepresented groups and to developing students who are well-informed critical thinkers pursuing social justice and global citizenship. With our long-standing history as one of the country’s most inclusive universities, we value, and are committed to being leaders in, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA).
Indeed, MSVU is part of the Dimensions pilot program, which aims to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity across all disciplines through increased equity, diversity and inclusion. As the only Nova Scotian university publicly recognized as a leader in EDIA through this program, and one of only 17 in Canada, MSVU will work with the other Dimensions universities to share and develop accessible resources and tools that will enhance EDIA at universities across Canada. Nova Scotia’s university sector is recognized as playing an informed, critical role in the social, economic and cultural development of the province, and the landscape in which the sector operates is one of continuing change and corresponding challenge in an evolving global context. This Strategic Plan is designed not only to ensure MSVU responds to those challenges, but that its tenets will permeate all that we do as we respond to the growing competition for students, faculty and staff who are increasingly committed to social justice and social responsibility.
The ideas in this Strategic Plan emerged after significant consultations with constituents as diverse as MSVU itself. Consultations, undertaken over a span of more than seven months, included students, faculty representing all academic departments, staff, Board of Governors, Senate, alumni, government (civic, provincial and federal), business and community leaders, postsecondary leaders (regionally and nationally), co-op employer partners, the Sisters of Charity and many others.
Building upon the successes achieved with our prior plan, Mount 2017, this plan will inform who we are as an institution as we continue to nurture socially responsible global citizens and prepare them to confidently take their place in an uncertain world where activism on climate change, economic, social and political issues will be expected of them. The plan speaks to our research and scholarly work, our respect for cultural diversity, our commitment to community in every sense of the word, and will reflect and respond to an increased need for even wider diversity within our academic programming.
While changes in the delivery of postsecondary education are a certainty, we are well positioned to respond. For decades, MSVU has provided exceptional and personalized classroom-based teaching with small class sizes that distinguish us from other institutions. For more than 35 years, MSVU has also been delivering high quality undergraduate and graduate distance/online courses and programs to students locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Based on this expertise, and our commitment to accessible postsecondary education, we continue to be leaders in the advancement of digital learning in Nova Scotia. Similarly, history demonstrates that we are best positioned to respond to students requiring flexibility/accommodation in the delivery of education as they balance family, singleparenthood, careers and socio-economic impacts that are the reality in the lives of many of our students.
Note: We are only now beginning to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the university and universities in Canada, and, at the time of this plan (Fall 2020), we are unable to predict with any degree of confidence the medium- and long-term systemic changes that will inevitably result from the pandemic and our recovery from it. We are in uncharted territory. While the pandemic and its aftermath may impact strategic and operational plans at the unit level, it does not change our aspirations and vision for the university’s future. This plan describes what we aspire to be and the strategies required to become that university.