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26 Aug 2014

Wilfrid Laurier University: Innovative Approach Gets National Recognition.


Ottawa - The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS) at Wilfrid Laurier University is the winner of the 2014 CAGS/ETS Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience.

The recognition is for the ASPIRE project - a professional skills development training program aimed at improving post-degree success. It supports students in the development of business, leadership, teaching, research and communication skills that are essential to successful post-academic careers. More than 250 seminars, workshops and courses were offered in the 2013-14 academic year.

Laurier has been providing extra-curricular skills training for years. In this tradition, the ASPIRE program kicked it up a notch by creating a central hub that co-ordinated workshop details, a calendar and registration. Joan Norris, dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at Laurier, says student feedback and other qualitative tracking has been an important part of customizing how the service works.

The training modules have become so effective that individual graduate programs at Laurier are starting to incorporate them as required curricula.

“Supporting the student transition from a graduate program to a profession is one of the most important challenges facing graduate schools,” says Norris. “This program promises to revolutionize how Laurier students apply the skills acquired in graduate programs. It increases their potential contribution to their workplaces, their communities and beyond.”

Norris says that the program has encouraged faculty to recognize the importance of professional skills development. The result is a polished graduate armed with a suite of transferable skills. This is an asset for business, corporate and government placements. It is increasingly important in academic careers as well.

“Graduate students are demanding professional skills training in growing numbers, and graduate schools are responding,” says CAGS president Noreen Golfman. “We congratulate Wilfrid Laurier and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for an innovative approach to this challenge.”

The annual ETS award is sponsored by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies and the Educational Testing Service. It is presented to a CAGS member school in recognition of innovations that enhance graduate student experience and outcomes. It will be presented in October at the CAGS Annual Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

For more information:
Gail Dugas
CAGS Communications