|April 21, 2000||Volume 7, Number 15|
Faculty tackle job of making goals real force for excellence
More than 80 faculty spent an intensive Saturday, April 8, trying to turn the rhetoric of the Universitys two-year-old "goals for planning" into real measures that will strengthen research, teaching and the overall quality of the U of S.
And after the day-long session at the Saskatoon Inn, participants appeared enthused, feeling they had seized an opportune time to help the University compete with other schools and instill excellence in its colleges and programs.
While the day focused on fine-tuning draft documents on the two goals of "fostering the teacher-scholar model" and "increasing research intensiveness" at the U of S, faculty used the day to exchange views on a wide range of current topics with Pres. Peter MacKinnon, Vice-Pres. (Academic) Michael Atkinson, and Council Planning Committee Chair Jene Porter.
Everything from tenure time and the role of sessional lecturers, to pay incentives and how to increase Aboriginal involvement in the University, was discussed.
"The destiny of this University is in our hands," MacKinnon told the gathering.
He said the potential of better funding, the U of Ss historic strengths, and its new "momentum for planning" mean it can meet challenges like student recruitment, more competition on all fronts with other universities, and a future increase in Aboriginal enrolment.
Porter said, "we have an unusual window" to put the Universitys 1998 planning goals into action.
"Our fear was that these goals would end up being kind of mission-statement puffery," Porter told faculty.
But instead, "we have a true opportunity in the next while to implement these goals and consequently have a tremendous effect on the University over the next five years."
Atkinson told the meeting he felt strongly two years ago, when the Universitys Framework for Planning document was written including the four goals of research intensiveness, teacher-scholar model, improving instruction, and responding to Aboriginal peoples needs that "we needed some form of compass".
"These goals have incredible staying power in terms of orienting our thoughts," Atkinson said.
"Were making progress, except in responding to the needs of Aboriginal people. Our range of programs (for them) is extensive, but its not good enough," he said.
"We have begun to establish a strong dialogue with the Aboriginal people of the province," to improve progress.
Faculty split into eight small groups for discussion, then reconvened later in the day to share views on specific issues.
Biochemistry Prof. Bruce Waygood said his group felt each college needs a good graduate program in order to implement the teacher-scholar model.
That model calls for every faculty member to, in some way, incorporate both teaching and scholarship in their career.
Waygood and others said tenure time should be more than the current three years, perhaps five or six years.
Other said faculty salaries need to be higher at entry level, and include career-long incentives and evaluation.
Many called for increasing the communications capacity of the office of the Vice-President of Research.
In summing up, MacKinnon said "the value of the teacher-scholar model seems to have been endorsed."
He also said the U of S has to try to do better in offering better start-up funds for new faculty to become teacher-scholars.
Porter said the day had been "part of the process of returning this University to being a major university."
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