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First-ever Old Boys Summit is crucial step as College charts new strategic directions

Have you ever left a grocery store or franchised coffee shop and seen those little boxes, on a pedestal, with a green happy-face button and a red sad-face button? The idea is to gauge your positive or negative reaction, in the broadest sense — experience reduced to an emoticon.

s1On the other end of the survey spectrum is the thorough, community-wide consultative process Upper Canada College has embarked upon, as we aim to build a preferred future where our students are inspired to become their best selves.

To kick off that process, our first-ever Old Boy Summit welcomed more than 100 alumni back, for lively discussion about UCC’s strengths and areas for growth on Oct. 22. The morning was comprised of three breakout topics on pertinent themes: financial assistance; long-term financial model of the College; and Old Boy engagement with College life.

Much has changed since UCC last embarked on a strategic plan in 2007. To date, as we get set to prioritize anew, more than 300 members of community groups — parents, students, staff, faculty and Board members — have spoken openly and honestly with representatives of our consulting firm, Berlineaton or provided comments online.

“We’re hearing that we have work to do in improving some aspects of school life — and I’m fully committed to doing that work in the months and years ahead,” says Principal Sam McKinney.

s2Among the key findings of the Summit, Old Boys appreciated and recognized the value of the opportunity to collaborate on the strategic planning process. They were keen to have transparency enhanced, specifically in terms of financial matters, including the financial assistance program. That said, the program requires continued, long-term fundraising support to succeed. They believe tuition levels require further study and consideration. In terms of alumni relations, they suggested the College could increase the range of opportunities for alumni to leverage their skills and experience. As well, improved data on Old Boys would help capitalize on their collective wisdom and enable more targeted communications about specific volunteer opportunities.

Input from Summit participants has been shared with our so-called “discovery teams”—enthusiastic groups of staff and faculty members who met regularly last month and reported back to senior leaderships and our consultants. The discovery team topics, which will contribute to the strategic plan’s pillars, include: inclusiveness and diversity; innovation; financial sustainability; and well-being.

“We’re extremely pleased with the feedback and outcomes of the Old Boy Summit discussions,” says Jim Garner ’77, vice-principal of the office of strategy and advancement. “As we shape the College’s future directions, it is important to everyone at the College that we hear the thoughts, opinions and ideas of those most knowledgeable about our past.”

To read a complete White Paper on the Old Boy Summit, including key recommendations and outcomes from each breakout session, please visit