Review of college plans moving full-speed-ahead
By Lawrence McMahen
The old joke asks: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time.
Academic and administrative leaders at the U of S are eagerly biting into the mammoth task of reviewing and assessing all 17 college plans which feed into the new integrated planning process and will result in the University’s first-ever multi-year budget May 7.
And with their major effort and hundreds of hours spent on the review in recent months, the planners are beginning to devour the huge challenge.
The latest update – given at Council Jan. 29 by Provost & Vice-President Academic Michael Atkinson and Planning Committee Chair Lou Qualtiere – indicates that both Council’s College Plans Review Committee (CPRC) and Atkinson’s Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) are racing forward in their attempt to meet the spring deadline and help to forge a coherent multi-year plan for the U of S that draws on strengths the colleges have identified.
The goal, both Qualtiere and Atkinson told Council, is to review the initiatives identified in the college plans in terms of the University’s planning priorities and strategic directions – considerations like increasing research intensiveness and graduate education, enhancing the student experience, and addressing Aboriginal education needs.
Atkinson told Council CPRC’s “very high quality work” provides the initial response to the college plans and is also giving great insights into strengths and weaknesses in the plans.
“The work being done by this committee is enormously valuable for the University community,” Atkinson said. “As an institution we really seem to be coming together.”
Qualtiere echoed that observation, telling Council that his CPRC “has been very impressed both with the quality of the college plans and with the commitment of people to the integrated planning process.
“It’s very, very encouraging. This really reflects a vitality in the University community that we should all be proud of,” Qualtiere said.
He said as of the end of January CPRC had finished its review of four college plans and received back those deans’ responses to the assessments. CPRC had also finished another three college plans but hadn’t yet received the deans’ replies. And CPRC was set to finish its review of the remaining 10 college plans within days. The 17 plans include all 13 U of S colleges, with Arts & Science divided into three college plans, plus plans from Extension Division and the Library.
“Our goal is to have all the rest of our college plan assessment reports to February Council”, set for Feb. 26, Qualtiere said. CPRC will then review the University’s administrative unit integrated plans.
Atkinson said his PCIP group has finished its own initial review of all the college plans and a round of individual meetings with all deans.
“Work is beginning on the University-level plan. A critical path for development of the plan, including consultation with key groups, has been prepared and will be shared with CPRC, University Council and the University community,” he said.
“Council, through CPRC, will have an opportunity to discuss the academic priorities described in the University-level plan” and Atkinson said those academic priorities should go to Council’s April 15 meeting for discussion and approval.
On a motion from Qualtiere, Council passed a motion approving CPRC’s first four college plan assessment reports – on the colleges of agriculture, kinesiology, medicine, and pharmacy & nutrition.
He said CPRC held “lively” discussions at times on the college plans, always looking at “how the college proposed to maintain or develop academic strengths”.
CPRC identified a number of common themes from many of the college plans, such as: measures to meet Aboriginal people’s needs; failure to explore potential for generating revenue; an importance placed on external fundraising; the desire for more interdisciplinary collaboration with other colleges but failure to address structural barriers to this; and a commitment to more continuing education and distance education initiatives.
For details on the college plans and CPRC’s assessments, go into the U of S PAWS web portal and check the links in the Integrated Planning Group (in the Administrative area of Groups).