Last week Brock University submitted a proposal for a strategic mandate agreement (SMA) to the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).In late June, MTCU requested that every college and university in Ontario prepare a document that would articulate the mandate and vision of each institution as well as identify three distinct priority areas and explain how they align with government objectives.Brock’s proposed SMA identifies what differentiates the University from other post-secondary institutions in the province. This includes conducting transdisciplinary research with community partners to address vital issues of the communities served by the University, and meeting the learning needs of students through different educational experiences and styles of teaching and learning.At Brock, the SMA exercise was the culmination of a sustained process of integrated strategic planning that has been ongoing for the past two years. In a sense, it is helping to crystallize and refine strategic planning already underway at the University.“The actions we put forth in this proposal can be seen as being part and parcel of an implementation plan of our strategic plan that we’ve been working on for some time,” says Murray Knuttila, Provost and Vice-President, Academic.The MTCU asked colleges and universities to outline a strategic mandate; a task Knuttila notes was not difficult for Brock.“It was supposed to talk about your strengths and why these priorities are logical given your strengths and your history,” he says. “I think we articulated things we can do and I think we articulated things that are absolutely worthwhile doing.”Brock’s SMA, which is available online, includes the following three priority objectives:Serving the 21st-century learner-putting students firstEstablishing five transdisciplinary research institutes and developing new graduate and undergraduate programsBuilding a network of partnerships that promote prosperity through entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity“For priorities, our puzzle was how specific do you get?” says Knuttila. “The creation of this document was a delicate balance of articulating priorities that indicate your preparedness to take actions, but with an academic focus to them.”Senate was consulted in the preparation of Brock’s SMA and the document was reviewed by the chair of the University’s Board of Trustees on behalf of the Board. It also has the support of the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) and Graduate Students’ Association (GSA).Submitted plans will now be reviewed by the Minister’s office, and then forwarded on to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) who will convene an expert panel to review the plans and make recommendations back to MTCU.