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Strategic Planning

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, VIU has been building its new strategic plan. This page reports on the latest progress.

Latest News

Following consultations in the spring, summer and fall of 2020, a revised version of the Strategic Plan was approved by VIU's governance bodies this spring. Stay tuned for a formal launch of the new plan in fall 2021!

In the interim, you may be interested in a few Q&As about the new plan:

When will the plan be launched?

A formal launch of the Strategic Plan in its beautifully designed format is planned for the fall of 2021 when learners and employees are back on campus.

How will the plan be implemented?

The Strategic Plan will be implemented through six Foundation Plans, the concrete implementation documents that will drive all of the university’s daily work going forward. Over the course of 2021 and 2022, the following existing and new plans will be updated or created:

How will you measure progress?

The Strategic Plan commits VIU to measuring progress and reporting back regularly. The Foundation Plans and their progress will also form the basis of VIU’s annual report to the provincial government, the Institutional Accountability Plan and Report. 

How did you develop the plan?

The strategic planning process was publicly launched in March 2020 and the final public consultation wound up in November before conversations in VIU’s governing bodies in the spring of 2021. Overall, more than 2,000 members from VIU’s campuses and communities participated through in-person and online engagement. For details of the collaborative process, see below.

How does the final plan differ from the earlier version?

In response to feedback, the final plan is much shorter and crisper than the earlier version, but it maintains the core commitments that met with strong approval in the consultations.

In several ways, the final plan is even more ambitious. The original commitment to a sustainability plan has been broadened to encompass the whole of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and has been deepened to be an interwoven theme throughout the university.

Similarly, the Strategic Plan commits VIU to integrating our commitment to Indigenous peoples in all of our activities, and not only in a singular plan. Equity, diversity and Inclusion is likewise woven throughout all future planning, as is a new commitment to integrating cultural competencies in a global world across our activities.

Also new and exciting is the commitment to become a leader in learning for new generations – a plan to share with other universities what we are learning at VIU, in particular about increasing access, developing powerful educational experiences, and serving the needs of underserved learners.

The Planning Process

Over 2020, VIU undertook a wide-ranging strategic planning process called The Future We Want to See, building on the vision of VIU's President, Deb Saucier.

The President's vision for the plan. Have a look at this interview with Deb, describing her ambition for the plan:

The engagement process

The first part of the engagement sought to build a vision for VIU's future. Conversations with some 1,000 people in the spring and summer of 2020 focused on five "conversation starter" topics, drawn from the President's installation address in November 2019: broadening access, encouraging discovery, engaging community, and boosting student success, all with a cross-cutting theme of deepening reconciliation. Through in-person and online workshops, surveys, meetings, emails, and phone calls, VIU employees, learners, and community members shared their stories about VIU's strengths and their goals for the university's next five years.

A report on What We Heard during those spring and summer conversations is available as an executive summary and full report.

The second part of the engagement, held in the fall of 2020, invited VIU's communities to read and discuss the first draft of the plan, titled A Different Kind of University, based on the aspirations shared in the What We Heard report. For a month in November, an online engagement platform was visited by more than 2,000 people. Revisions are now underway for a next version to be reviewed by VIU's governance bodies.

The engagement approach

Both parts of the engagement plan build on appreciative inquiry and design thinking approaches to reach out to VIU's many communities. Have a look at this video to learn more about the process:

Find Out More


  • March: Launch of The Future We Want to See engagement process
  • March-July: Engagement period
  • August: Launch of the What We Heard Report
  • November: Launch of the draft Strategic Plan on the Ethelo online engagement platform 


  • Winter/Spring: Senate and Board review 
  • Spring/Summer: Launch of work to update supporting Foundation Plans
  • Fall: Launch of the Strategic Plan

We want everyone who cares about VIU -- past and present students, employees, and community partners -- to be involved. This is our plan for VIU’s future, so the creativity of all of our community members is needed.

The plan will focus on our deep commitment to student success, so we are making a special effort to engage students and alumni in conversations about their own experiences, ambitions and ideas. 

To manage the engagement and planning process, we have pulled together groups to support the Board and the President. They include:

  • Coordinator: Alison Van Rooy, Senior Advisor, Strategic Planning and Institutional Initiatives.

  • Facilitation Team: This graduate student team worked in February and March to undertake interviews and lead workshops.

Maria Arias Borja

Hayley Burns

Celina Fletcher

Trina Forrest 

Cliff Feng

Colin Pybus

Patricia Verhage

and Liz Whittaker


  • Advisory Group: This team of employees and student representatives helped draft versions of the plan for the wider community to discuss.
    • James Bowen, Executive Director, VIUSU
    • Sharon Hobenshield, Director, Office of Aboriginal Education and Engagement
    • McKenzie Hutchison, Chair, VIUSU
    • Irlanda Price, Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs
    • Pam Shaw, Director, Master of Community Planning Program
    • Kathryn Snow, Director, University Planning and Analysis
    • Janina Stajic, Director, Communications and Public Engagement
    • Bryan Webber, Acting Dean, Faculty of Management
    • Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President, Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

VIU is guided today by a suite of foundation plans and other strategic documents, including:

... and many other region-specific, faculty, and departmental plans. 

Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to planning that focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses. Taking an appreciative approach doesn't mean we ignore the things that aren't working -- those are important -- but it does mean that we devote most of our energy on what is working so that we can do more of what we do best. Watch this short video clip about Appreciative Inquiry.

Design Thinking is a method of improving goods or services (like education) that starts from the experience of the user (learners). It is a step-by-step way to better understand the learner experience, to pinpoint areas of focus, to generate innovative ideas, and then to prototype and test those ideas to make sure we are making a difference. Watch this video clip about Design Thinking steps.

The team continues to review best practice and comparator studies, reports, statistics and other resources to help inform the plan. Here are some of those sources:

There are several other strategic plans already in place, like the Academic Plan and the new People Plan. How is this different?

  • Those plans -- what we are calling foundation plans -- are the pillars holding up the strategic plan. 
  • While our foundation plans shape most parts of VIU’s work, the strategic plan will connect our entire community together in one cohesive vision.
  • Everyone who works and studies at VIU needs to be able to see themselves in the plan. All of us are important to the success of VIU’s learners.

Why should current learners care about a long-term strategic plan?

  • Many learners will have graduated before the new plan is in place, but once you become a student and then an alumni, we consider you to be an integral part of our VIU community.
  • As such, we look to you for advice and insight into how we can best support our student experiences before, during and after their time here.

What will change at VIU after we’re done?

  • We don’t know yet! Our plans for the future are being shaped by this process.
  • We are having this broad engagement process because we want ideas from our communities on how we can build on the successes of VIU and create a vision for the future.
  • One outcome of the plan will be clear goals and strong plans that we will put into action, measuring our progress along the way.


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VIU Seeking Feedback on Draft Strategic Plan

The University’s draft strategic plan, called A Different Kind of University, outlines a five-year vision and direction for VIU that builds on community input...

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VIU Launches Strategic Planning Process

Titled The Future We Want to See, the process will help the University develop a strategic plan that will articulate VIU’s vision and direction as an...


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