McDougall working for student success

In January, Patti McDougall accepted a second five-year term to serve as vice-provost leading the Teaching, Learning and Student Experience portfolio at the U of S.

By Meghan Sired

If that name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because the new year brought a new name.

According to McDougall, the new name better reflects the work of the portfolio, which is made up of 19 units and about 280 staff members. Activities of the portfolio include a range of functions involving teaching, learning and students at all levels of study.

Work of the portfolio includes producing the course catalogue, co-ordinating the Graduation Powwow, marketing to prospective students, providing physical and mental health care to students, shaping innovative teaching practices, preparing international students for university, and supporting off-campus learning.

“When I first started in this role in 2013 what surprised me, in a very positive way, was how strong our staff are when it comes to understanding, identifying and meeting the needs of students across their entire learning and development cycle,” said McDougall. “I already knew how faculty members come together with the shared goal of wanting to do the best for students.

“What I don’t think you necessarily realize as a faculty member, which is where I come from, is how much strength there is in the people who do the day-to-day work to support students.”

McDougall said she is inspired by not only Teaching, Learning and Student Experience staff, but by the staff who do similar work in colleges and schools.

“Any opportunities to engage instructors or staff in colleges is a good opportunity, and for much of what we do, we simply couldn’t pull it off without those partnerships,” she said. “The University of Saskatchewan has a phenomenal workforce. Their passion and engagement fuels my desire to do more myself.”

Before becoming vice-provost, McDougall worked at St. Thomas More College for 14 years, first as a faculty member, then as associate dean for many years and then interim dean for a year. Her research expertise is in social development, including transitions to new academic environments in childhood and adolescence. McDougall said it’s been “helpful to have that lens on things” in her current role.

“My interests lie in how a social environment either makes it easier for you or more challenging,” explained McDougall. “As a scholar in developmental psychology, I can see that the academic and social adjustment

outcomes for our students vary as a consequence of a wide range of individual differences. For example, from a social angle it matters whether students have a social network and feel like they belong.

“Given our size and our role as one of Canada's leading research-intensive universities, I know our community is a very positive social environment and is providing the best quality of student experience. Now we’re working on how we can better showcase that.”

For more information about supporting students and the Teaching, Learning and Student Experience portfolio, visit

Meghan Sired is a communications co-ordinator with the Vice-Provost Teaching, Learning and Student Experience portfolio.