Winders: Help spark a conversation with your Big Idea

By Jason Winders
February 28, 2013

Just one little word was all it took.

Last week, I wrote about the opportunity non-traditional students afford this university in meeting enrollment targets. As part of that conversation, I mentioned, if the university were to pursue this course, it would need to have some uncomfortable conversations about long-standing practices – reevaluating prerequisites, changing traditional schedules, maybe even providing daycare.

That last word sparked some reaction in people. Forget nontraditional students, a few folks told me, let’s start addressing daycare in a serious way across the community. In those conversations, I got a bit of history, and explained some of the challenges today.


Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in the area. I looked into it – in depth – a handful of years ago when my newspaper in Georgia was having a ‘brain drain’ of top female editors who were wresting with that difficult transition in the first year or two when a new child comes into the home. I know what it would have taken my paper, at that time, and what investment would have been necessary.

I pitched, to several Baby Boomer men who never had to worry about such things as daycare, and ultimately failed in my efforts. But I started a conversation.

The people who call Western home might not have every answer to the challenges facing this university. But we have a lot of them. Problem is, we don’t always know where to look or who to ask.

Hence, why I come to you today: I want to know your ‘Big Idea.’

Think a parking garage will solve our parking woes? Or do you know what country represents the next great untapped resource for international students? Perhaps you have a new menu item for The Spoke? Or have figured out a better (and quicker) way to get out of the Springett Lot after work?

Think we need mandatory volunteer service as a graduation component? Or do you insist we need to get the Middlesex College bells ringing again? How about that idea you had to get students safely across Western Road when classes are in full swing at the new Ivey building next year?

Simply stated: Do you have a better way?

In 300 words or less, let us know that big idea for a better Western you have kept to yourself, or only shared with colleagues over coffee, and send it to This spring, Western News will compile and publish the ideas as part of a ‘Big Ideas’ special edition of the paper.

We spoke a bit about this last fall when I initially pitched this idea, and some of you responded. But as we grow closer to spring, I wanted to solicit your input yet again.

It took about two minutes in my first editor’s chair to learn meaningful solutions are not a top-down pursuit. The answers to any organization’s challenges are not in the hands of one person. They don’t come out of one particular office and are not generated out of one particular meeting.

The answers are all around.

Keep in mind, ‘Big Ideas’ can solve large dilemnas, small problems and even minor annoyances. They can make a place safer or make it run smarter. And sometimes, they simply make us look better.

Too often in my career, I have seen my company go outside, looking to a high-profile (and, in turn, high-priced) consultant to come in and tell us what we needed when all they needed to do was listen to their own people.

We have wonderful solutions discussed every day, just in smaller groups. Help us expand the conversation a bit.

For some of the ideas we get, Western News will report on them deeper, asking across campus and the city to see what it would take to implement them. For others, we’ll illustrate them to show what Western would look like if the idea was put into place. Still others, we will run word-for-word.

I am excited to see your ideas.


8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(holidays excluded)


Helen Connell

Jason Winders

Paul Mayne

Adela Talbot

Advertising Coordinator:
Denise Jones

Off-Campus Advertising Sales:
Chris Amyot, Campus Ad

National Advertising Representative:
Campus Plus



Western News
Westminster Hall
Suite 360
The University of Western Ontario
N6A 3K7

Western provides the best student experience among Canada's leading research-intensive universities.