Many new measures underway to support U of S student success
New scholarships for students, a renewed recruiting effort and the recent announcement of a funding agreement for a program designed to enhance Aboriginal employment opportunities were among the highlights of another progress report on Integrated Planning.
Presented to University Council Feb. 24, the update from Provost and Vice-President Academic Michael Atkinson looked at initiatives from the Supporting Success section of the plan. First up was an item about the new Dean’s Scholarship Program that was announced in December and provides some $500,000 for master’s and PhD student scholarships. The aim, as outlined in the Integrated Plan, is to establish the U of S as a “major presence in graduate education”.
According to Atkinson’s report, the next step toward this goal will be another allocation of $500,000 for a new funding program to “support areas of pre-eminence and priority”.
Undergrad students also received Integrated Plan support in the form of $550,000 for a variety of scholarships – guaranteed entrance awards based on academic achievement, awards for students transferring from other institutions, money for new international students and grants for students who take part in exchanges or study abroad programs.
Recruiting undergrads was also mentioned in Atkinson’s report. Last fall, the University committed $296,000, mostly in non-salary resources, to expand recruiting efforts in western Canada, Ontario and “six to eight international markets”. (See related story on Page 1.) A study, expected to be complete this fall, is also underway to examine student attrition and retention.
Support for Aboriginal students comes in the form of a funding agreement with Saskatchewan’s Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) for just over $1 million for a math and science enrichment program. The IP update said the CIC money, to be provided over five years, will cover the cost of instructors, a programs co-ordinator and elders, plus workshops and internships. Accommodating up to 50 Aboriginal students annually, the program is expected to be up and running this fall.
Other student success initiatives mentioned in the report to Council include:
Atkinson also touched on initiatives in research and teaching that fall under the heading Supporting Success in the plan. In an effort to increase the U of S's research intensiveness, a number of changes in the Office of the Vice-President Research - new research co-ordinator positions, a program to encourage grant applications, establishment of an areas of pre-eminence advisory committee and identification of funding sources - are mentioned.
A commitment to excellence in teaching has prompted a campus workshop to be held March 19 for some 200 people who will develop “first principles” in teaching and learning. These principles will be part of an upcoming foundational document on the same topic and guide the direction of what is being called the New Learning Centre. Atkinson said he has set up a committee to work out an organizational plan for the centre.
There is also work underway planning for new teaching and research chairs that will be funded through the current University fundraising campaign.
At the January Council meeting, Atkinson said he will report in March or April to that body on changing practices. He also mentioned there may be a review of the integrated planning process in April to mark the first anniversary of its approval by Council.