Committee promotes key role of U of S ‘outreach’
The Extension and Public Service Committee of Council spends of lot of its time telling folks what it is not. It is not a committee representing the Extension Division. It is responsible for representing the interests of Extension and Public Service, perhaps better summarized as Outreach, across the entire University.
The importance of Outreach to the University is immense and longstanding. Many would suggest that in fact it is our Outreach that distinguishes the University of Saskatchewan from other major Canadian universities. Since its origins nearly 100 years ago the University has recognized that Outreach is a critical pillar, along with teaching and research, supporting its basic structure. While in initial days the mandate was quite parochial, today that Outreach extends well beyond Saskatchewan’s borders.
Academics and staff routinely involved in Outreach are quick to recognize and point out that Outreach is very much a two-way street. The University, through the faculty or staff member, provides information, technology transfer and leadership to the community, but more importantly the activity provides for community input to the University and to the individual faculty or staff member. This “real world” input helps us all keep our feet grounded in reality, which often gets a little blurred here in the protected confines of the campus. Outreach activity performs a definitive role in the teacher-scholar model as it fuels the faculty or staff member in their own quest as a lifelong learner and, while it can take considerable time and effort, it is one of the most rewarding and enriching activities one can participate in.
There are three terms of reference for the E&PS Committee: 1) Recommending to Council on issues relating to extension and public service at the University of Saskatchewan, 2) Engaging in activities to encourage extension and public service at the University of Saskatchewan, and 3) Recommending to the Academic Programs Committee on all aspects of programs administered by the Division of Extension. With the passing of a Council motion in March 2002 establishing a representative faculty council for the Extension Division, it is to be recommended that the last of these be dropped.
The Committee’s general role has been to, on an ongoing basis, remind the Academy and the Administration about the importance and value of Outreach at the University and to work with campus subgroups to recognize, reward and profile Outreach activities. The committee has expended much of its effort over the past 18 months in reminding the Academy and the Administration about the vital role, importance and value of Outreach activities relative to those of Teaching and Research. In particular the Committee has made representation to the University Review Committee regarding recent revisions to the University Standards for Promotion and Tenure, and has taken an active role in providing comment and input to the President’s drafting of the University’s Strategic Directions Statement. In the latter, Outreach is clearly a centerpiece of “Sense of Place”. In terms of profiling Outreach, the Committee has worked with the President to establish the President’s Award for Distinction in Extension and Public Service at the University of Saskatchewan, the first of which is to be awarded later in 2002.
A unique and defining feature of the E&PS Committee is that in addition to the usual representative make-up of committee membership from Council, the General Academic Assembly and student bodies, the E&PS Committee has four members from the University Senate. This broadened membership brings a valuable external perspective to the Committee’s deliberations.
As the University intensifies its excellence in Research and Scholarly activity, the role of the E&PS Committee will continue to be important in profiling the distinguishing feature of Outreach as a key pillar in the history and future success of the University of Saskatchewan.