University Council set to tackle a number of interesting issues

Entering its 19th year, University Council is welcoming new members, new committees and a host of interesting topics, and Dr. Jay Kalra, chair of council, is looking forward to it all.

"Over the summer, council welcomed 16 new members and six new committee chairs," said Kalra, who is entering his second two-year term as council chair. "There is a learning curve, but we have already held orientation for everyone before the first meeting."

Kalra, professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is pleased so many people on campus are eager to be involved. "It is very important to have enhanced involvement from students and faculty because council is responsible for directing and overseeing all of the academic affairs of the university—the wider representation the better."

All members of council are getting ready for a busy year ahead, said Kalra, adding that each monthly meeting from September to June will be filled with discussion and debate on a wide range of topics.

"This is going to be a very busy year for us with many interesting and challenging areas to address," he said. "We know we will continue to be involved in the implementation of the third integrated plan as well as the implementation plan for the College of Medicine restructuring. We also expect a lot of discussion around program prioritization, TransformUS and the strategic enrolment management plan, just to name a few," he said.

"I personally believe that while we face many challenges, we also have many opportunities to strengthen and move forward the university by directing its academic affairs."

One important change this year, Kalra explained, is in the number of committees. "Last year we had 10 committees. We have combined two so we now have nine to eliminate any duplication and create more efficiency. This is important because the committees do a great deal of work between council meetings to ensure the recommendations being presented are well-thought out and based on solid rationale."

The work done by the committees ensures that all members of council have the information needed to make the proper decision. "The committees contribute so much to collegial self-governance which is such an important aspect of our university."

Kalra said the most important things to enable council to do this are transparency and accountability. To achieve those, Kalra encourages all U of S students, faculty and staff to attend the meetings.

"Everyone is welcome to attend council meetings, even if you aren't a member. The meetings are better when we have wide participation. And I promise to pay attention to the time," said Kalra with a laugh, referring to the meetings that are routinely scheduled to end at 4:30 pm.

"I never rush the speakers, but I know that to keep the meetings interesting, we need to stay on time."

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