Restructuring at the top

An administrative change in the upper echelons of the University of Saskatchewan’s largest college is designed to take advantage of its unique offerings and prove that the sum is greater than its parts.

The search is on to fill three new vice-dean positions in the College of Arts and Science that will take the place of existing jobs, explained Dean Peter Stoicheff. By moving away from division-specific vice-deans (science, social sciences, and humanities and fine arts) to a vice-dean academic, a vice-dean of research, scholarly and artistic work, and a third for faculty relations, Stoicheff sees the opportunity to break down internal boundaries and expand student choices.

"With the previous structure, in a way it was like we had three colleges," said Stoicheff. "With this new structure, we're opening up the college from the inside to create greater discipline variety for students, for courses, programs, degrees and research." The restructuring has taken a lot of time and a lot of consultation, he said, all of it premised on one important principle—"that we end up with no larger an administration than we currently have."

Supporting and encouraging research, scholarly and artist work across all disciplines will be the responsibility of one vice-dean while the new vice-dean academic will be charged with organizing and overseeing curricular advancement, renewal and innovation, he said. The vice-dean faculty relations will be responsible for ensuring "we have the right faculty complement plan in the college."

The new vice-deans are expected to be in place July 1, effectively eliminating the three existing positions. Stoicheff said the terms of two current vice-deans—David Parkinson in humanities and fine arts and Peta Bonham Smith in science— expire June 30. Lawrence Martz holds the third position— vice-dean social sciences—in an acting capacity.

Hand in hand with the administrative restructuring is work by the college's bylaws committee on proposals for a new collegial governance structure "that could co-ordinate it all," said Stoicheff. Collegial governance "is not something a dean restructures unilaterally," he added, "and I honestly have no idea what they'll come up with."

There were aspects of the divisional structure that were good, he continued, "but the current structure doesn't engage faculty and department heads in college-level decision making. One of our other principles was to build more opportunities for faculty members to become engaged" at all levels, including with each other. Imagining collaborative research or curricular development, the dean said there is nothing currently stopping faculty "from engaging with each other, but there's nothing to incentivize them either."

So included in the change are new college-level structures, including a curriculum committee and a budget advisory committee. "The idea is to get on with more innovation but also to create more space for people to be involved."

The changes will also help the college adjust to the university's new Transparent, Activity- Based Budget System (TABBS) "because everything's going to change around this place with the move into the TABBS environment."

For Stoicheff, the success of the new structure "will ultimately be reflected in innovative learning and research opportunities for students."

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