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Guylaine Beaudry: ‘Innovation is in our DNA’

Community consultations and an upcoming speaker series lay the groundwork for Concordia's digital strategy
December 4, 2017
By Karen McCarthy

Guylaine Beaudry
is passionate about her new role as the vice-provost of Digital Strategy and excited by the possibilities it presents.

“Almost all jobs in the future are going to be embedded in the digital,” she says.

“It’s a reality we — as a teaching, learning and research institution — must address if we are going to equip our students with the skills and knowledge to thrive in this new environment.”

She assumed her new role in late August, alongside her ongoing position as university librarian.

“We have an opportunity to contribute to the transformation of our institution. We can create a digital culture that will allow our students to thrive in a rapidly changing world, where virtual reality and artificial intelligence are evolving and emerging,” she adds.

When it comes to developing a university-wide digital strategy, Concordia is asserting a leadership position in Canada — something that doesn’t surprise Beaudry.

“Innovation is in our DNA.”

It’s also an opportunity for the institution to experiment boldly.

The development of a digital strategy is one of five transformation projects being undertaken in 2017-18 as part of the Strategic Directions initiative to position Concordia as a next-generation university.

Engaging faculty, staff and students

“Listening wil be an important part of the process,” Beaudry says.

“We want to hear what our community thinks Concordia should be doing to prepare our students for the digital world and to support our faculty and staff.”

The project’s goals are two-fold:

  • An institution-wide reflection on the digital environment needed to support the experiences, needs and aspirations of students, faculty and staff, alumni, collaborators and partners, with a report prepared by Spring 2018.
  • The delivery of a shared vision and implementation road map, based on this reflection and consultation, in May 2018.

Beaudry and her team will launch a series of consultation activities in the winter 2018 term. Full- and part-time faculty members, librarians, professional and support staff will be invited to share information about their everyday work, goals, problems and practices.

There will also be consultation activities geared to current and future students to obtain their input on the changing digital reality.

“We will be asking questions such as: What does it mean to be a student or learner in this new digital era? How can a professor embrace the digital, and what will this mean for how they teach or conduct research? How can Concordia support students in developing their digital literacy?”

Additionally, the consultation process is undertaking an environmental scan. This includes an inventory of the information systems, digital technologies, platforms, software and services used on campus for teaching, learning, research and communications.

However, Beaudry is quick to point out that developing a digital strategy goes beyond infrastructure.

“It’s about developing a next-generation digital culture at Concordia,” she says, adding that she is working closely with the university’s chief information officer, Marc Denoncourt, and his team at IT Services.

Speaking of digital futures

As part of the process to engage Concordians in conversations and reflection about the digital world, the Concordia President’s Speaker Series on Digital Futures will launch on January 16.

Marie Josée Lamothe Marie Josée Lamothe

“We’re bringing people who have expertise in dealing with the current and emerging digital realities in sectors such as cinema, social media and business, and in evolving fields such as artificial intelligence,” Beaudry says.

At the first event, Marie Josée Lamothe will discuss how Montreal and Canada can adapt to a digital world that is here to stay.

Since 2014, she has been the Quebec managing director at Google Canada. She has overseen the incredible growth of the company’s presence within both the province and the country, and has played an active role in the latest “tech renaissance.”

Other confirmed speakers:

  • Monday, February 5 – Kevin Chan, head of public policy, Facebook Canada
  • Monday, February 12 – Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder/director, Félix & Paul Studios, and award-winning filmmaker
  • Tuesday, February 20 – Francis Baillet, vice-president of Corporate Affairs, Ubisoft
  • Thursday, April 19 – Shannon Vallor, William J. Rewak, S.J., Professor of Philosophy, Santa Clara University
  • Tuesday, April 24 – Yoshua Bengio, professor, researcher and expert on deep learning

All events are open to the public and will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. (except for the April 19 event, which will be held from 4 to 5 p.m.) in Room MB-9CD of the Concordia University Conference Centre on the ninth floor of the John Molson Building, (1450 Guy Street).

Check out the Concordia President’s Speaker Series on Digital Futures this winter.


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