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100 Days of Listening

If you missed it over the summer (as many students did) contribute your thoughts to the campaign. (photo by Bryn Karcha)
If you missed it over the summer (as many students did) contribute your thoughts to the campaign. (photo by Bryn Karcha)

When I first heard about the 100 Days of Listening initiative through the Dal News bulletin, my initial reaction was intrigue. It’s a catchy title for the campaign launched by the university’s new president, Dr. Richard Florizone. Pitched as a bid to gather input from all members of the Dalhousie community, it strikes me as a particularly open-minded approach to university governance.

Florizone is starting his presidency with this forward-thinking campaign, dedicating the first days of his tenure to hearing the thoughts and concerns of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and community members connected to the university. With Dal’s 200th anniversary approaching, the goal is to amalgamate this input, distill the key concerns of the  community, and let these guide strategic planning for  future. The campaign is structured around 10 ‘guiding questions’, encompassing student experience, academic quality, Dalhousie as an employer, size and economic considerations of the university, and connectivity with the local community.

The campaign makes use of a number of strategies in order to reach different groups within the Dal community. Florizone has met with various people across the university’s campuses, posting regular updates to his tumblr blog. He is also hosting a series of meetings with students, employees and management of the university, as well as the public. Everyone can also share their thoughts via online survey. The hope is that through this range of outreach avenues, the 100 Days of listening campaign is reaching members from all groups of people connected.

A couple of possible limitations to this approach come to mind. Perhaps the most apparent is that in starting the campaign in July (to coincide with the president’s arrival at Dal) 100 Days of Listening has run roughly half its time while the undergraduate student population was away from campus. While the campaign has a strong online presence, it’s plausible that the undergraduate student voice may be underrepresented, as new and returning students may not have participated in the campaign over the summer. Another point to consider is the extent to which this initiative is effectively reaching government and industry members connected to or interested in Dalhousie. It’s also not immediately clear precisely how the input from this initiative will be used to guide Dalhousie’s development, though the president promises to share results on the campaign website once the 100 days have concluded.

Where do you think should be headed as it prepares to enter its third century? How can the university better serve its students and improve their interaction with faculty, staff, administrators, and the local community? The online survey will be open for the next month, and the president will host open meetings in the coming weeks where input can be presented in person. There’s still time to have your say, and ensure that the student population adds their voice to the chorus shaping future.

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