Welcome Message from the President

Dear members of the University community:

Summer has passed quickly and the excitement of the new academic year is well underway. As we welcome our new and returning students to our beautiful UPEI campus, a sense of possibility fills the air. Our students’ enthusiasm for immersing in classes and activities brings a new level of energy to campus that, for many of us, is as thrilling now as it was during our own days as students.

With September’s arrival, we are eager to build on momentum achieved over the past year. Thanks to the efforts of many, UPEI is approaching the “new year” with a sharpened focus in areas including educational excellence, the quality of our students’ experiences, and enhancements to the programs and services we provide.

There are many noteworthy highlights from the past year.

UPEI has created a four-year Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree to provide new opportunities and access to project-based Engineering education in our region. Changes were also made to our Bachelor of Education program to address the critical need for math and science-focused educators.

We recently celebrated a record 73 UPEI student-athletes who were named CIS Academic All-Canadians with academic standings of 80 per cent or higher. And in May, we graduated our largest class in history.

UPEI has also experienced growth in community awareness of our Island’s richness as a living laboratory. Projects such as the PEI Urban Fox Project, lupine research, the impacts of erosion, and the emergence of fictional life through the creative works of Island writers, have enabled UPEI to connect with our community in new and interesting ways.

Renewed commitment for three Canada Research Chairs, growth in areas of research expertise, the set up of a FabLab on campus for prototype developments, and the progression of a UPEI Climate Change Lab project to the semi-finals of a MIT-sponsored competition, remind us of the breadth of our activities.

Students from all faculties have represented UPEI extremely well around the world over the past year, contributing to the health and education of others while building their own consciousness of global citizenship. Many of our students were also recipients of individual and team awards on regional and national levels in areas ranging from business case competitions to graduate student research presentations. UPEI students also raised the bar recently with a record-breaking participation rate on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

As we celebrate Welcome Day on August 30th and “O-Week”, students will be greeted by UPEI team members from across campus and benefit from a new single service counter (located on the lower level of Kelley Building in the Office of the Registrar) to better serve their needs. Students will also benefit during their time at UPEI from ongoing developments within the new Office of Skills Development and Learning. And new and returning students will continue to have improved access to financial support through the recently restructured UPEI scholarship program, Celebrating Student Achievement.

Recently, a review of our Athletics programming has presented us with a new level of awareness and action to strengthen our pride in UPEI Athletics and Recreation and UPEI’s engagement with our communities. This has been a very positive exercise demonstrating UPEI’s eagerness to identify and act on opportunities that lead to improvements for specific areas on campus, and broader University operations overall. An Athletics Advisory Board has already been comprised with a strong cross-section of our Island and Alumni communities making up its membership. In addition, a search committee for a new Director of Athletics and Recreation is in place.

We should all be proud of these various accomplishments.

As our country marks the 150th year celebration of the historic meeting held in Prince Edward Island that led to Canada’s confederation, UPEI will be working hard to build its future.

As outlined in the UPEI Strategic Plan 2013–18, UPEI Magazine (Fall 2013), University updates, and town hall meetings of the past year, UPEI—similar to most Canadian universities—is faced with challenges and pressures unlike any previously encountered within post-secondary education.

UPEI’s strategic plan (which was adopted earlier this year) was developed to help our University navigate such challenges over the next five years. As we have the opportunity to implement planning initiatives over a full academic cycle, I am confident that we will achieve positive results.

One particular area that our campus will undertake with considerable focus over the coming months, is how we can best attract and retain students in the face of significant regional and Island demographic declines. Simply put, we need to keep our enrolment numbers strong. Next week, our early enrolment numbers will be available and shared with our campus.

As we launch the beginning of the 2014–15 academic year, I encourage you to take pride in our accomplishments and share your enthusiasm for the future of our dynamic and vibrant learning community. We have much to celebrate and many opportunities before us. As we encourage and inspire our students along their educational journeys, let us be steadfast in keeping our mission and vision of developing our students to their potential in both the classroom and the community, always at the forefront.

Best wishes for a wonderful year,

Alaa

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