Strategic Research Plan Renewal

The renewed Saint Mary’s University Strategic Research Plan 2021-2026 was formally approved in March 2022, and the FULL and FINAL Plan can be viewed in the PDF document linked below (a new Strategic Research Plan website will be launched soon):

SRP RENEWAL (2021-26)

Prior to the final approval of the 2021-2026 SRP above, the earlier SRP had remained in effect: 2012-2017 SRP.

The renewal process for the 2012-2017 SRP had been delayed until the 2018-19 period because of changes in staffing for two key academic administration positions in the latter half of 2017 (the Vice-President Academic and Research, and the Associate Vice-President Research  / Dean of Graduate Studies and Research), and an accompanying desire to renew the SRP in direct conjunction with the Academic Plan renewal process.  Restrictions from COVID-19 precautions imposed further delay beyond initial planning, but the Academic Pan renewal was competed and approved in December 2020; and this SRP Renewal approval process completed near the end of the 2021-22 academic year.  Full details of the overall SRP Renewal process are outlined below.

In the fall of 2018, Dr. Malcolm Butler (Vice-President Academic and Research) and Dr. Adam Sarty (Associate Vice-President Research, and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research) began a coordinated campus-wide consultation process aimed at jointly renewing both the University’s Academic Plan and its Strategic Research Plan (SRP).  The choice to renew both Plans concurrently was based on the acknowledgement that both Plans should be self-consistent, with the SRP reflecting a fuller articulation of research priorities that appear within the Academic Plan itself.  Information regarding the renewal process of the Academic Plan can be found at this link.

The renewal of both the Academic Plan and SRP will be carried out with direct reference to, and dialogue with, the overall University Strategic Plan 2017-2022.

The Strategic Research Plan (SRP) is designed to articulate the vision, priorities, directions, and means to achieve success across the broad spectrum of the research enterprise at Saint Mary’s University.  Aside from the benefit of having such a renewed SRP, all Canadian universities that wish to take advantage of certain Government of Canada research funding programs (e.g. Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program; Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) program) are required to develop and have an SRP meets certain criteria and follows a prescribed format. A complete listing of the summary of Canadian Universities SRPs can be found at the CRC website.

To view Saint Mary’s current SRP, see: . The current plan was originally written in 1999 and underwent minor changes/updates over the years 1999-2012, with a more thorough review and renewal in 2012 – all under the authority of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The changes/updates between 1999-2012 were normally associated with submission of funding applications to the CRC and/or CFI programs, whereas the 2012 renewal was undertaken as a strategic university update mandated by the Vice-President Academic and Research – and that is again the case for the current 2018-19 renewal.

Process and Supporting Documentation:

  1. Town Hall “launch”:

The consultation process for the renewal of both the Academic Plan and Strategic Research Plan was launched at a Town Hall meeting called by Dr. Malcolm Butler (VPAR) on Oct. 12, 2018.

  • The “launch presentation” for the SRP renewal consultation as presented by Dr. Adam Sarty (AVP Research, Dean FGSR) is provided here: SRP-Launch-12Oct2018.pdf

      2. OnLine “Strategic Research Discussion” consultation process:

To facilitate a “strategic research discussion” consultation process, Dr. Sarty partnered with Ray MacNeil (CLARI Network Manager, SMU community-engaged research facilitator) to engage the assistance of Cognitive Edge and take advantage of their SenseMaker tool.  Use of SenseMaker allowed to put multiple calls out to the SMU research community (faculty and research support staff) to participate in an online collection of micro-narratives designed to illicit broad input for research experiences that could help shape the SRP.

Then, for a 3-month period between December 7, 2018 and March 7, 2019, the research community was invited to reflect on 5 different scenarios/themes (with the invitations spaced by about 2 weeks to give time for all to participate in each scenario).  The scenarios presented were:

Interdisciplinary Scenario
Community-Engaged Research Scenario
Research Themes Scenario
Technology Impacts Scenario
Research Funding Scenario

Some of the scenarios were intentionally provocative in order to spark conversation, with hope that they would elicit experiences in researcher’s work that were relevant to the consultation exercise.

The following invitation/information emails were distributed to all SMU full-time faculty members and other research support staff:

In the midst of that consultation period, a “Lunch and Learn” session was held on Feb. 6, 2019 (invitation contained in the Feb. 4 email above). Ray MacNeil used the following slides to facilitate discussion with faculty members at that session to illustrate the background and essence of the SenseMaker tool:

      3. Town Hall “Working Session” to discuss and “Make Sense” of all Responses from OnLine Consultation (March 8, 2019)

Session was facilitated by Michael Cheveldave from Cognitive Edge and Ray MacNeil from CLARI/SMU-CER.  The following final email announcement of the session was distributed to the SMU research community:

During this session, participants reviewed and critically discussed data displayed from the SenseMaker online consultation process, debating interpretations and implications for themes related to the SRP.   The results of these discussions, the SenseMaker data overall, and an overall thematic analysis of the text entered for the micro-narratives, will guide the update draft of the SRP.

Following delays associated with COVID-19 activity-restrictions, and the changes in university operation, a draft of the updated SRP Renewal 2021-26 was presented to the Saint Mary’s University community at a Saint Mary’s University Virtual Town Hall on Febraury 9, 2021, and then again at FGSR Faculty Council on May 6, 2021.   The draft SRP Renewal presented can be found here:


Under instruction of Dr. David Gauthier, Vice President Academic and Research, Dr. Kevin Vessey, Associate Vice President Research and Dean of the FGSR, has been charged with leading a campus-wide consultation for the renewal of the University’s Strategic Research Plan (SRP).

Aside from the strategic planning benefits that come from having a renewed SRP, to take advantage of certain Government of Canada research funding programs (e.g. Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program; Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) program), Universities in Canada are required to have an SRP that meets certain criteria and follows a prescribed format. A complete listing of the summary of Canadian Universities SRPs can be found at the CRC website.

To view Saint Mary’s current SRP, see: The current plan was originally written in 1999 and it has undergone only minor changes/updates over the years under the authority of the Dean of the FGSR. These changes have normally been associated with submission of funding applications to the CRC and CFI programs.


The renewal of Saint Mary’s SRP is association with, but also to flow from and be consistent with, the renewal of the University’s Academic Plan.

Dr. Vessey gave presentations on the SRP and its renewal as part of a Town Hall sessions in March 2011 and January 2012 . Presentations on the renewal of the SRP were also given by Dr. Vessey at the FGSR Faculty Council meetings in April and December of 2011. At all these events, feedback and submission were invited from Faculty and staff on the revision to the SRP.

As the renewed SRP must be consistent and supportive of the renewed Academic Plan, drafts of the renewed SRP are not anticipated until the Academic Plan is finalized or near finalization in the first quarter of 2012. As consultation drafts of the revised SRP are available, they will be posted to this site. Dr. Vessey will also consult widely with others in the Saint May’s Community right up until the SRP is finalized for consideration by Senate. It is intended to have the SRP ready for consideration by Senate for its May 2012 meeting.

Submissions from the Saint Mary’s Community on the SRP renewal are welcomes at any time. Send your comments directly to Dr. Vessey at

Supporting documents:

Several supporting documents/analytical reports have been compiled by Dr. Vessey and are available below:

First Consultation Draft

Please provide your comments on the first consultation draft of the Strategic Research Plan to Dr. Kevin Vessey ( by September 30, 2012.

Second Consultation Draft

A Town Hall Session will be held on the Second Draft of the Strategic Research Plan at 1:00 PM on 15 November 2012 in the Scotia Bank Theatre.

The Renewed Strategic Research Plan

The 2012 Strategic Research Plan was approved by the Senate of Saint Mary’s University on December 14, 2012.