by Jolene Perron
The Lance – Editor-in-Chief
Make way for UWindsor, version 2.0.
University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman spoke to the public Mar. 9 in Ambassador Auditorium about where the university currently stands and his three-year plan to propel the establishment forward.
“It’s very important to recapture what is a very significant competitive advantage that the University of Windsor has got,” said Wildeman. “We have a very unique cohort of students, a very unique set of programs and let’s take advantage of that to really put down a strong marker that in a differentiating framework we can do something very special.”
Wildeman noted international students in his address a number of times, outlining international students now account for 34 per cent of tuition revenue and said the university will continue to cater to those international students and attract them to Windsor and the campus.
Even in just the last five years, the University of Windsor has seen a number of changes. Continuing on for the next three years, Wildeman outlined five basic areas of his plan including a focus on enrollment, which will see a continued attraction in students to the UWindsor campus. Wildeman said the enrollment stats have mostly flat lined, with a decrease of approximately 350 students since last year.
The second area of focus is on the student experience which will cater to making the centre more “student friendly, more Lancer-like and more a place where students want to hangout.”
The third area highlights an investment on faculty. In this area, Wildeman plans on hiring up to 50 new faculty members, which he said is not just to replace retiring members of faculty but also to expand on the current team.
“We’re going to allocate [the new faculty] in ways that really strengthen us under our strategic mandate agreement,” said Wildeman. “It’s a big opportunity for us to really strengthen those things that make us different, that make us really strong … We make it all about the students by recognizing that we need to start reinvesting in faculty and we have a real opportunity to give ourselves a really significant competitive advantage which is about the students.”
Continuing to renew the facilities is the fourth area Wildeman brought attention to, which includes bringing down Electa Hall, continuing the conversion of Sunset Avenue into a pedestrian way and improving buildings such as Essex Hall, the law building, Leddy Library and the athletic departments.
The final portion of the five areas includes a move to activity based budgeting, an area in which Wildeman noted resources will shift as enrollment shifts, particularly in the engineering, law, nursing and science programs, all of which are seeing a growth in enrollment currently.
Additionally, Wildeman touched on how the University of Windsor will be collaborating with St. Clair College. He said the campuses plan on doing a number of things together to improve the education of students, which includes both campuses exchanging booths highlighting what the other has to offer.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Wildeman. “I think what we’re doing are very significant enhancements, you build it one step at a time.”
All of these changes, according to Wildeman, will come from existing resources. Over the past five years, government funding has flat lined around $106 million and tuition fees have risen 21 per cent to bring in approximately $144 million annually.
Wildeman stressed the campus’ progression over the next three years will be geared towards improving the student experience, building off of their current foundation and using the name of Windsor to the university’s advantage.
“We’re not the University of Acme, we’re the University of Windsor,” said Wildeman. “I think that it’s absolutely a mistake to in any way think that somehow that name is an impediment to our institution. I think it’s an absolute strategic advantage and I think the day might come when that name is going to absolutely resonate with distinctiveness and quality and something really exceptional happening.”