How its status as a “destination” campus
helps to define the university.
What makes the University of Victoria unique? Recently we have given serious thought to this question, allowing us to focus clearly on the key characteristics that make our institution unlike that of almost any other research university in Canada.
On the surface, one might assume our university is unique simply by virtue of our spectacular location, mild climate and the vibrant lifestyle of southern Vancouver Island. But beyond those attributes there is so much more that sets us apart. We are what may be termed a “destination” university.
By that I mean that most of our students—the heart and soul of our university—come here from areas that lie beyond our immediate region. They come from across the province, across the country, indeed from around the world to study at the University of Victoria. In so doing, they add a special dimension that is not found on many other campuses.
By choosing the University of Victoria to further their educational goals, our students create a unique sense of community. It begins with their first-year studies, when each new student coming to us directly from high school is guaranteed a place to live in our campus residences.
In fact, these students form a community unto themselves, with our accommodations able to provide living space for more than 2,100 students. Our Residence Life programs help students make the adjustment to the demands of their university studies. In those programs they not only find the support they need to succeed academically, but we also offer a variety of outlets for cultural and recreational activities and housing for students with families, that is close to the campus daycare and to local schools.
All of this contributes to a campus culture that is collegial and lively—and student-centred. And that makes a difference in the lives of our students. It forms the foundation for all their learning experiences, which can include co-operative education work terms, internships, international study exchanges or any number of other opportunities that are open to them as they expand their horizons engaging in the broader community and the issues affecting society today.
It’s going to take more work to build on our successes. For example, we need to pay particular attention to initiatives that enhance and support the remarkable diversity of our students and faculty, both inside and outside of the classroom. We also need to make sure that our broader learning environment accommodates the unique circumstances of each of our students.
I am very pleased that our community has recognized these and other objectives that we have set for ourselves in our renewed strategic plan, A Vision for the Future—Building on Strength. The plan confirms the goals we set for ourselves in our strategic plan of five years ago and sets new aspirations for the years ahead.
Each of our alumni community members has a stake in the future of the University of Victoria and I am most grateful for your continuing interest in your university and for your support of our mission to strengthen our position among the best Canadian universities.
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