by Laurie Zack
What happens when you put 70 people from various sectors of the university
and guests from the neighbouring community into a room for three days?
An explosion of ideas.
A three-day Future Search Conference was held off-campus from Dec. 16
- 18. It was the first experience at Concordia with a process that has
been used widely.
The goal in this case was to develop a shared vision and understanding
of the value and rightful place of Recreation and Athletics in the life
of Concordia University and its role in the wider community, and a commitment
to foster relationships that will contribute, implement and sustain this
It was also tied to the search for a new director for the department and
planning for much-needed recreation and athletics facilities on both campuses.
Participants included alumni, faculty, outside support, staff, students,
athletes and recreation and athletics staff. Vice-Rector Services Michael
Di Grappa was an active participant.
Conference management team member David Gobby said, The idea was
to get them to interact and learn from each other and to develop a common
vision of where Recreation and Athletics should be going. I think we accomplished
that, and also had a lot of fun doing so.
Over the three days, participants worked in groups, in pairs, as a large
group and individually, under the leadership of conference facilitators
Ray Gordezky and Kim Martens.
The group work began by looking back, looking at the present and predicting
trends around the world, in Montreal and specifically at the Concordia,
in terms of recreation and sport. Groups disbanded and re-formed, sometimes
according to their role at the university and sometimes by mere chance.
The goal was to get everyone involved and thinking.
Among the highlights were skits developed by eight work groups to present
their vision of the future. These ranged from interviews with excited
Concordia spectators at the 2012 Vanier Cup game held at Concordias
new retractable-roof stadium to a tour of the new Di Grappa Dome
Complex, with varsity and alumni dormitories and and wellness centres.
Faculty members agreed that existing units like exercise science, psychology,
education and marketing could share their expertise in many ways. New
programs to help athletes in academic difficulty, performance coaching,
student apprenticeships and physical therapy were some of the concepts
developed in these sessions.
Similar initiatives in fundraising, marketing, communications and alumni
support were raised. Representatives from neighbouring community groups
and the YMCA suggested providing services and programs for neighbouring
families, children and the elderly.
There was strong commitment to the dual mandate of the department: providing
services to both the mass of students, faculty and staff and the varsity
and elite athletes.
There was general agreement that facilities on both campuses should complement
each other to meet the full spectrum of the Universitys recreation
and athletic needs. Flexibility, accessibility, affordability, and energy
efficiency were all mentioned, as well as the need for facilities that
are client-driven in particular, student-driven.
Several work groups were formed at the end of the conference. They will
meet this month to develop specific projects such as academic liaison,
fundraising, marketing and communications and leadership, and will coordinate
with the Vice-Rector Services.
More information about the Future Search conference and a day-by-day chronicle
is available on the Web at: http://web2.concordia.ca/-futuresearch.