Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As 2012 draws to a close, I felt it appropriate to drop you a note to extend greetings and share with you some of the Faculty highlights of the past year. It was another great year for the Faculty and 2013 will be even better.
In addition to building a new building to house the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing (which is tentatively slated to open in August 2014), we will contribute significantly to the shaping of a new institutional Strategic Plan, to be followed by the development of a new Faculty Strategic Plan. We have anticipated the central tenants of this plan, and are well on the way to making them a reality. The key areas are expected to be
- Ensuring a “best student experience”
- Advancing research
- Extending our international reach
- Launching more programs/courses via alternative delivery formats
- Ensuring a positive and productive workplace culture
- Diversifying our revenue streams
As you likely know, Western once again found itself atop of the Globe and Mail's rankings of overall student satisfaction (and for the 11th consecutive year). We take great pride in this result as an institution and as a Faculty. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that our students are provided with a cutting-edge curriculum, outstanding professors, caring staff members, and strong student and Faculty leadership. As you know, the key to success in this important area is ensuring that there is proper balance between challenging and supporting students as we prepare them to be critical thinkers and leaders in the world we share.
Our programs continue to attract the best and brightest. We now have more than 4,000 students in the Faculty. Interest in our programs remains at the top of the University. For the 2012-13 entering class, we received more than 8,000 applications for the 850 positions in our undergraduate programs. We led the campus in the number of attendees at our Fall Preview Day this past November. Our School of Physical Therapy (875 applications for 50 spots), School of Occupational Therapy (705 applications for 55 spots) and our School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (applications to available positions = 10:1) remain strong.
Quantity of applicants is one metric to measure program interest. Naturally we also measure applicant quality. The incoming average for the School of Nursing students was 88%. Kinesiology and the School of Health Studies were at 84.5% and 83.5%, respectively.
We have answered the University’s call for increased action in the international portfolio. Currently, we have 28 active international exchange agreements with institutions from 16 countries and are planning a more robust international student exchange program to provide unique learning experiences for our students. I caught up with some of our students in Australia when I visited the country last April. This past Spring I joined a delegation of Western leaders on a trip to China where Western is making its mark.
Our researchers also continue their outstanding work in their respective areas. Since 2004-05, the number of active research grants we hold each year has increased from 207 to 340. Our annual research income has moved from $4 million to $7 million. Our performance in the highly competitive Tri-Council research competition has increased by 64% (compared to 24% across the Canadian university system). Thomson Rueters ranked our Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing program #1 in the country relative to the research impact (i.e., number of times our members were cited in the research literature relative to our sister institutions). Our professors continue to earn the most prestigious teaching and research awards in the Academy.
We have hired a FHS Alternative Delivery Specialist to assist our professors in the re-packaging of our programs, courses, or parts of programs/courses on an alternative delivery platform. We have also developed one of our education suites to accommodate this emerging trend in higher education.
Our Sport and Recreation staff members continue to advance our programs. We are always at or near the top in the number of varsity teams ranked at, or near the top on the Canadian Top Ten rankings. The Faculty also led the campus in the number of student-athletes who carry academic averages in excess of 80% while representing Western in interuniversity sports. Our Campus Recreation program is also known throughout the country as being one of the top programs, now housed in the beautiful Western Student Recreation Centre that we constructed in 2009.
Of all our accomplishments, the one that I am most proud of is the undeniable fact that the Faculty has pulled together. Our mission of being a “great place to work, study, learn and grow” has caught fire and all stakeholders are committed to making it the foundation of the Faculty. We were very proud to attract 1800 people to Alumni Hall to listen to Margaret Trudeau deliver the 6th Annual Faculty of Health Sciences Distinguished Lecture this past November. We were also pleased to witness our great friends Arthur and Sonia Labatt presented with Honorary Degrees in the Fall Convocation Ceremonies. We also watched with pride as our friend and colleague, Dr. Carol McWilliam received the Edward G. Pleva Award for teaching excellence at convocation .
Our alumni are engaged, through our FHS Matters Alumni and Friends magazine or through their participation in alumni events like Homecoming 2012. We also had successful alumni events in Calgary and Toronto this past year.
Our professors, staff members and students are attempting to make things better for others – through their leadership in the United Way campaign, Make a Wish, or their made-in-the Faculty “Learn it Together” program that deploys hundreds of our students into the community to lead after-school physical activity and nutrition programs.
The mission of the Faculty calls on us to be a leader in health and health care, rehabilitation, physical activity and sport and we have confidence that we are attaining this mission in everything we do. We are proud of our past, and excited about our future. I know that you share our pride and excitement.
Once again, I thank you for your support and contributions to a great Faculty and I wish you and yours the very best in 2013.