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Media release

Canada’s universities make commitments to Canadians

October 26, 2011

Centennial speech by incoming AUCC chair Stephen Toope highlights universities’ role in meeting needs of Canadians

MONTREAL – Canada’s universities are making new commitments to meet the needs of Canada and Canadians in an increasingly complex world. At the centennial meetings of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada today in Montreal, Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia and new chair of AUCC, made the commitments on behalf of Canada’s universities as they embark on their second century of collaboration through AUCC.

The five commitments reflect the priority university leaders are placing on learning experiences that are research-enriched, globally engaged and community-focused. “We live in a time when knowledge alone is not enough…The world we live in is simply changing too fast,” Prof. Toope said to an audience of more than 100 university presidents and thought leaders from across Canada. “Today, economic, social and personal fulfillment depends less upon what we know and more upon what we are capable of learning, and the degree to which we are able to respond to change around us.”

The commitments were developed by university presidents over the past year in a series of discussions about the ongoing and emerging needs Canada’s universities must address. Based as well on a series of conversations with Canadians from across the country, the commitments are:

  • To broaden the view of education, and to invite and lead a cross-Canada conversation about the entire education system;
  • To innovate in learning and enhance university students’ learning experience to ensure it is research-enriched and globally engaged;
  • To ensure that every student is fully equipped to play a role in a larger world and new kind of Canada;
  • To concentrate the world’s best minds on the world’s toughest problems, with a commitment to continued growth of graduate students and robust research; and
  • To cultivate engagement and reach beyond institutions to create alliances, partnerships and initiatives of shared purpose.

If the watchword of the 20th century was “security,” Prof. Toope said the watchword of the 21st century is “resilience” – with universities uniquely positioned to produce global citizens prepared to thrive in ever-changing conditions.

“Canadian higher education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition,” Prof. Toope said, noting that each member of AUCC will find its own way to fulfill the commitments.

Ninety-five institutions are members of AUCC, and there are “at least 95 different ways that our members are responding to the needs of Canadians,” he added. “That is evidence of the resilience that has kept universities useful and relevant through times of change.”


Read Prof. Toope’s speech.

For interview opportunities, contact:

Helen Murphy
Communications Manager
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
613-563-1236 ext. 238
613-608-8749 (cell)