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Faculty of Arts Administrative Restructuring Initiative

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization in Departmental Restructuring

During Phase 1 and Phase 2 consultations, the concern was often raised that those most impacted by restructuring may be from equity-seeking groups.

Questions were asked as to how the process will affect or be affected by the Faculty’s commitment to procedural and substantive equity. Participants wanted to discuss how, in a time of reductions and reorganizations, we can work to further diversify our community and continue our dedication to good relations and support of Indigenous members. There were great conversations about how we, collectively, can work toward crafting a welcoming culture of inclusion.

Equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization (EDID) have been at the heart of the process design and rollout, and will continue to help shape the conversations around crafting a proposal for Departmental Restructuring and its implementation.

Key areas of action and aspiration for Departmental Restructuring in Arts:

Communication

We are committed to including equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization measures and efforts in every discussion about Departmental Restructuring.

We will work to guarantee that all consultations are accessible (ASL or close-captioning) and that all posted information is screen-readable.

Listening

We will ensure that all Department Restructuring meetings are safe and welcoming to all Arts members by offering the option of anonymous chat and other modes of feedback.

We will continue to run different sizes and formats of consultations as well as seek out targeted conversations with members of equity-seeking groups and allies.

Data

We will craft proposals and support decisions informed by data that includes multiple and intersectional measures for demographic, disciplinary, or methodological diversity, etc. A joint effort between the Arts’ Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (CEDI) and the Arts Working Group for Indigenous Initiatives (AWGII) is crafting a Workforce Profile Report for continual recalibration following Departmental Restructuring.

People

We commit to evaluating work-load equity in any of the proposed scenarios as well as the impact of SET on staff diversity. We will also evaluate the leadership configuration and governance of a restructured Faculty of Arts with substantive equity and diversity in mind.

We commit to ensuring we continue to offer the best services to support minority and equity-seeking members of our community.

Measurement

We commit to exploring new and EDID-informed ways to measure the success of Departmental Restructuring following implementation.

Culture

We will continue to work together to create a welcoming culture by building community. This includes supporting and coordinating with EDI and Indigenous focused Departmental groups and working on wise practices for robust mentorship structures. These two items are a focus for CEDI, in partnership with AWGII, during the Winter 2021 Term.

February 18, 2021 Arts Restructuring Update

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to provide the Faculty of Arts community with an update on the Faculty’s academic and administrative restructuring initiative.

When the restructuring initiative was launched in late August, attention was focused on reducing the number of Departments delivering our academic programs. The goal was to imagine constructive opportunities for bringing academic programs and Departments together into new, larger multiprogram Departments.

The restructuring initiative was planned to unfold in three overlapping phases. Phase 1 began with information sharing and consultations aimed at generating ideas and identifying risks associated with Departmental restructuring. In Phase 2, consultations focused on considering possible scenarios for building larger multiprogram Departments that would take advantage of program-level affinities regarding objects of study, methodologies, and the like. These consultations were extremely productive. Input from faculty, staff, and students highlighted some exciting possibilities for building new academic units, while also revealing the limits of our approach and the real costs associated with amalgamating certain Departments.

Early in the consultation process, the Chairs of our three Fine Arts Departments identified valuable opportunities that might be realized through joining together in a new, larger academic unit. For months now, academic and administrative leaders within the three Fine Arts Departments have been actively engaged in a process that could lead to the creation of a unified School of Design, Fine, and Performing Arts (with the actual name to be determined).

In January, the restructuring initiative shifted to Phase 3, which was to focus on finalizing a set of restructuring proposals to put before the Faculty for discussion and, eventually, approval at a meeting of Arts Faculty Council. However, in light of valuable feedback from fall term consultations, our focus has shifted from considering a significant number of Departmental amalgamations to focusing on one possible merger (Fine Arts) and, for most other Departments, exploring creative new approaches to bringing Departments together within shared administrative service units that ensure cost-effective support of our academic programs while maintaining Departmental autonomy. 

Currently, we have also been learning more about how the university-wide administrative restructuring associated with the Service Excellence Transformation (SET) initiative will alter organizational structures and work processes across the university. It is not an overstatement to say these reforms will be truly ‘transformative’, and it is increasingly clear that restructuring within our Faculty will be shaped by the imperatives of SET.

After Reading Week, I will be working with the Dean’s Executive and Chairs’ Council as we develop plans to bring existing Departments together within a small number of administrative service units that allow the Faculty to respond responsibly to new budget realities, organizational models, and administrative processes. This will allow most of the Faculty’s Departments to remain independent academic units. But no Department will remain untouched by administrative restructuring.

I remain committed to pursuing Departmental restructuring where there are exciting opportunities to be realized by doing so, such as in the Fine Arts. Beyond that, I believe our attention should shift to rationalizing the Faculty’s administrative and academic structures in ways that position our existing Departments to remain viable, thriving, and independent academic units.

When Chairs’ Council has come to some consensus on proposals to put before the Arts community, further consultations will be held within Departments and across the Faculty. Final proposals will also be brought to the Arts Faculty Council for endorsement and approval.

I want to thank you all for your patience during this long process. We purposefully avoided rushing consultations and are now taking the time required to make wise decisions that stand the test of time.

Take care,

Steve Patten
Interim Dean

March 10, 2021:  Launch Administrative Restructuring

Dear Colleagues,

On February 18, I wrote to the Faculty of Arts community with an update regarding the Faculty’s academic and administrative restructuring initiative. Central to that message was confirmation that we would soon be turning attention to building new shared services units that would be capable of delivering cost-effective support to our academic programs and the research and creative activities of our faculty members.

Today, I write with the first of what will be a series of messages to the Faculty community regarding administrative restructuring. My aim is to ensure our students, faculty members, and especially our staff are informed with regard to the direction and pace of administrative restructuring. Our goal will be to rationalize the Faculty’s administrative structures in ways that support our core missions of teaching and research, while positioning our academic programs and Departments to thrive. We may, as I have explained, pursue focused initiatives of academic restructuring, but our larger primary focus -- and the focus of this series of communications -- will be administrative restructuring.

We are all keenly aware of the financial challenges facing the University of Alberta. In response to tightening budgets, a university-wide administrative restructuring program known as Service Excellence Transformation (SET) was launched to rethink and reorganize administrative structures and work processes across the university. The SET program’s focus on administrative consolidation and its emphasis on specialization will transform work processes and administrative positions in all functional areas, from HR and finance, to IT support and research administration. SET will also result in hundreds of jobs being cut. In these tough times, we need to respond responsibly to the new budget realities, organizational models, and administrative processes by engaging in carefully managed administrative restructuring in the Faculty of Arts.

In the coming days, I will share an administrative restructuring process map that will outline the phases and timelines of restructuring that will unfold over the next four months. While this work will be overseen by myself, Vice Dean Carrie Smith, Faculty General Manager Jennifer Hibbert, and our Senior Officer of Human Resources & Administration, Stacey Brennan, we have established a small ‘Change Management Group’ of staff to provide advice. We will also work closely with supervisors in the Faculty Office, administrative leaders in our Centres and Institutes, and the Assistant Chairs (Administration) who support our academic Departments. And, of course, we will continue to consult with Chairs Council.

A key piece of Arts’ administrative restructuring that I want to share with you today is our plan to organize the administrative services shared by academic Departments into three administrative services units. One of these units will serve the Fine Arts, and will include the staff serving the many programs and Degrees in the Fine Arts, but also the performance facilities and studios and workshops that support teaching, research, exhibitions, and productions. A second unit will serve those Departments and programs that are formally within the Faculty of Arts’ Division of Humanities -- including Media & Technology Studies, and the Departments of East Asian Studies, English & Film Studies, History & Classics, Modern Languages & Cultural Studies, and Philosophy. The final unit will coordinate administrative services for the Departments of the Faculty’s Social Science Division: Anthropology, Economics, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Women’s & Gender Studies.

Our decision to begin administrative restructuring with this plan is rooted in a commitment to building teams that are large enough to ensure core services are provided, while increasing the potential for flexibly assigning staff to important work as priorities shift across the academic year, as well as between Departments and programs. We also need to design our administrative units in a manner that is compatible with the operating model and position changes that will be imposed by the SET program. We will provide considerably more detail on all these matters in the coming days and weeks.

Throughout this process, our goal will be to remain focused on the needs of our students and academic programs. This means continuing to deliver key services and support, striving for on-the-ground continuity, and focusing on the importance of ensuring a strong sense of Departmental community that connects faculty members and students to our staff.

I am aware of the angst that is associated with administrative restructuring. Now that we have launched the Arts’ administrative restructuring initiative, I will strive to communicate regularly. We will email with information on a regular basis and host Zoom sessions to inform and hear from the Arts community.

I appreciate your patience and understanding as we move forward.

Thanks,
Steve
Interim Dean

March 12, 2021:  Process Map & Timelines

Dear Colleagues,

On March 10, we launched the process for administrative restructuring in the Faculty of Arts. In that message, I promised to send out regular updates to the Arts community to maintain open communication given the speed and complexity of the project. Today’s message focuses on the process and timeline for the restructuring of the administrative services units that support our academic Departments and programs. Future messages will address administrative services associated with the Faculty Office and Centres and Institutes, which are processes running parallel to this one.

The process of administrative restructuring requires the knowledge and insight of key experts who currently provide services to Departments and programs. Thus, the process must be built around regular insight, input, and feedback from those individuals. Below you will find the process map, which details the steps to be taken over the course of the next few months, highlighting some key groups of individuals who will be involved. What is not included in the process map are specifics around engagement, information sharing, and consultation. These will be announced as plans solidify. Please note, this process map may be updated, particularly if our work needs to adjust to align with the rollout of aspects of the university’s SET program.

  • Phase 1 (current phase): Gathering information on the tasks and duties that are performed in Departments and units to support programs is essential to successful design of the structure; only by knowing what is done on the ground can we determine how to share services and transform processes in the best possible way. The Assistant Chairs Administration (ACAs), supported by input from their staff, have begun cataloging this information with the goal of developing a task inventory. Vice Dean Carrie Smith and Faculty General Manager Jennifer Hibbert will work in individual and group meetings with the ACAs to analyse and verify the information. The goal is to identify and understand (1) which tasks would best be retained at the program or Department level, (2) which tasks might be shared among programs and departments, and 3) which tasks will likely shift out of programs and Departments due to the SET program’s efforts to consolidate certain administrative tasks and functions in a new ‘transactional services hub’ or one of the ‘centres of expertise’ within various Vice-Presidential portfolios.
  • Phase 2: The inventory will inform the design of the draft organizational structure, which will be developed initially by me, along with Vice Dean Smith, Faculty General Manager Hibbert, and our Senior Officer of Human Resources & Administration, Stacey Brennan, with the support of the staff serving on our Change Management Group. The goal is not to construct a one-size-fits-all administrative structure. Instead, each administrative services unit will be uniquely attentive to the needs of the individual disciplines, programs, and activities carried out in our academic Departments. Of course, attention must also be paid to aligning our administrative structures with the organizational model laid out by the SET program.
  • Phase 3: The draft structure will be shared with academic and administrative leaders for input. While administrative services and the core academic functions are separate in this process of restructuring, they are very intertwined. Chairs and other academic leaders will be consulted to ensure the designs offer excellent support required for the success of our academic undertakings. ACAs will provide important feedback on the viability of the structure from the standpoint of the smooth functioning of administrative services and workload balance, among other essential considerations. We need to keep these considerations front and centre, while engaging key stakeholders within the Arts community.
  • Phases 4, 5, and 6: Once the draft structure is in place, we will work to confirm and/or design jobs within the administrative services units. Attention will be paid to both our analysis of the task inventory and the need to align with the SET organizational model. Throughout these latter phases, we will continue to engage with members of the Arts community -- a proper and supportive transition requires that everyone is prepared for the careful implementation of the structure, which will take place over a period of weeks. While the process map indicates July 1 as the target date for implementation, work may continue through the summer months. Regular review and assessment will ensure smooth functioning of the design in the long term.

Throughout this process of administrative restructuring, we will put the needs of the Faculty of Arts students, researchers, instructors, and staff at the heart of the design. We are also keenly aware that the protection, retention, and transmission of institutional memory is a key priority as we continue to deliver services and strive for on-the-ground continuity now and in the future. This priority underscores the importance of program-level and Departmental community and identity connecting faculty members and students to our staff. To faculty members in particular we ask for your patience with and support of our excellent staff as they navigate the coming months of uncertainty.

I know these continue to be challenging times, but I appreciate your ongoing input and engagement through this process.

Thank you.

Steve Patten
Interim Dean

March 23, 2021:  Arts Restructuring & SET

Dear Colleagues,

My most recent communications with regard to the Faculty of Arts’ administrative restructuring initiative have tied the work we are doing in Arts to the centrally-driven Service Excellence Transformation (SET) program. Today, I am writing to provide a primer on SET, and to share valuable links for those who want to learn more.

Launched in response to significant cuts in provincial government funding, SET has, from its inception, worked to redesign administrative structures to realize process efficiencies while reducing costs through staff reductions. Every area of campus will be impacted by the adoption of a new operating model, the creation of new positions, and transformed work processes, as well as by the dramatic cuts to budgets and existing staff positions that are being managed through the SET program.

SET project teams are working on a number of discrete projects including streamlining procurement procedures and finding efficiencies and cost savings related to our use of space and facilities. But the program’s core focus is restructuring administrative processes. Currently, six functional workstreams are redesigning administrative processes related to (i) Finance, (ii) Human Resources, (iii) Information Technology, (iv) Student Services, (v) Research Administration, and (vi) External Engagement.

New Operating Model:

Common to all SET’s administrative redesign projects is a new operating model that emphasizes increased specialization, the consolidation of services in central units, and new approaches to shared services. While this operating model assumes Faculties and academic Departments will retain responsibility for specialized services that are integral to the management of our academic programs, work within Faculties will be transformed by the creation of new administrative structures for shared services and related transformations of key work processes.

For my part, as Dean, I am committed to ensuring that the results of the Arts administrative restructuring initiative allow for considerable on-the-ground continuity and a continued emphasis on ensuring a strong sense of Departmental community that helps connect faculty members and students to the staff who support our academic programs. But, how we do this will be influenced by SET’s new operating model, including its core components, captured in the image below.

 set-operating-model.png

  • Transaction Processing Hub: SET will soon create a new unit to be known as the Transaction Processing Hub. Within the Hub, teams of specialized staff will deliver high-volume, transactional, and typically standardized services to units across the university. As key tasks related to HR, finance, and other functional areas are moved to the Hub, they will no longer be carried out by staff in the Faculty of Arts. As a consequence, some positions in our Faculty will be transformed or eliminated. There will, of course, also be new job and career opportunities created in the Hub.
  • Centres of Expertise: SET’s operating model redefines the teams of functional specialists within various Vice-Presidential portfolios as Centres of Expertise. These teams will continue to provide strategic guidance, support, and services that are not moved to the transaction hub. Indeed, in some functional areas, like IT, the consolidation of more services – and staff positions – into central units will see more tasks move to a Centre of Expertise than to the Transaction Hub. Some existing Faculty of Arts positions are likely to be eliminated and replaced by positions within Centres of Expertise
  • Service Centres: Two Service Centres – one for staff and one for students – will be established to provide a single access point for triaging and addressing service requests. With options for online, telephone, and in-person access, these centres will work to resolve issues directly or connect people to appropriate service providers in the transaction hub, a Centre of Expertise, or elsewhere on campus. The service centres won’t manage or interfere with direct contacts and relationships between staff in Faculties and their counterparts in the Hub or a centre of expertise; they are there to be a primary point of contact and to facilitate access where such support will be beneficial.
  • Service Partners: In each of the functional areas – HR, finance, IT, research administration, external engagement, and student services – a select number of new Service Partner positions will be established. While located in Colleges and Faculties, Service Partners will report into a particular Vice-Presidential portfolio. Their role will be to provide strategic advice and core services to the College, Faculty, and academic Departments, while maintaining important connections and relationships with the relevant Centre of Expertise. The creation of these new Service Partner roles will coincide with the elimination of some existing positions in the Faculty of Arts. They will also provide new career opportunities for interested staff.

A useful overview of SET’s operating model was provided during a recent ‘Ask SET Anything’, the Shared Services edition. You can view the video and read a recap at this link. Also, to help us understand how this new operating model will work, the SET program has developed a series of narratives involving service centres, the Transaction Hub, and Service Partners.

Consequences for the Faculty of Arts:

I hope that understanding the core components of SET’s operating model serves to illuminate some of the many ways that staff positions will be impacted in the Faculty of Arts. All Faculties are being asked to reduce their administrative employees, both to meet budget demands and to ensure Faculties eliminate positions that would duplicate activities that will be performed by central units within the shared services model that was outlined above.

The SET program is also introducing a number of standardized administrative roles and organizational principles that have consequences for the Faculty of Arts.

  • Positions: Going forward, administrative leadership in Colleges and Faculties will be provided by College General Managers (CGMs) and Faculty General Managers (FGMs). Similarly, the senior staff person managing administrative resources for any academic Departments will be an Academic Department Manager (ADM). In the Faculty of Arts, the three ‘academic services units’ that will support our Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Science Departments will be ADMs. These will not, however, be the only Administrative Professional Officer (APO) positions in the Faculty.
  • Organizational Principles: SET will realign administrative structures to limit any manager's ‘span of control’ – or number of direct reports to that manager – to between 6 and 10. Additionally, despite UAlberta’s size, the SET program is committed to having no more than 6 reporting layers from the President to any other individual in the organization.

I know that much of the information this primer provides with regard to SET and administrative restructuring is fairly high level and abstract. Clearly, what matters most for people working in the Faculty of Arts is that SET and the Arts administrative restructuring initiative will result in job losses. In addition to the jobs already eliminated, as we move into the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Phase 2 of SET must reduce another $30 million from UAlberta’s budget, which will equate to roughly 350 to 400 additional job cuts. Perhaps as many positions will be moved as a result of consolidation, and many others will be impacted by shifting responsibilities and work processes.

Nothing I can say will alter the magnitude of change or the significance of the losses. I hope, however, that by providing a detailed process map and timeline for administrative restructuring in the Faculty of Arts, we can at least be sure the process is transparent.

Looking out for one another… and ourselves:

In early March I wrote to staff in the Faculty of Arts, encouraging everyone to learn more about SET and reflect on their career choices. I encourage everyone to closely watch the SET program’s Position Opportunities Page (which provides information on upcoming new positions and SET-related opportunities) and UAlberta’s Careers website, which remains the definitive source of information on active postings and the official portal for submitting applications.

In these times of uncertainty, staff need to keep abreast of opportunities and consider applying to positions that serve their career and personal interests. Supervisors should be encouraging staff in this direction, and colleagues should be supporting one another as we navigate the changes that are coming. As Dean, it is my hope that valued Faculty of Arts staff will find fulfilling opportunities to contribute to the university's core missions of teaching and research, whether you remain in Arts or move to new teams elsewhere on campus.

I hope the information I have provided here helps those who lacked familiarity with SET to understand the changes that are underway at the University of Alberta. It is only by being informed that you can act appropriately to identify and pursue career opportunities that serve your needs and ambitions. I encourage everyone to keep abreast of information on the SET program by reviewing the information on the SET webpage.

I will provide additional updates on the Faculty of Arts administrative restructuring initiative as work progresses.

Take care,
Steve Patten
Interim Dean

April 13, 2021: Faculty Office Process Map

Dear Faculty Office Colleagues,

In my March 12 email on administrative restructuring in the Faculty of Arts, I outlined planning that is in process for creating three ‘administrative services units’ that will support our academic Departments. That message, and all correspondence regarding administrative restructuring has been posted to the Faculty’s Restructuring Initiative website. Today, I’m writing to share some key information with regard to administrative restructuring in the Faculty Office, including a process map and timeline for this aspect of restructuring.

The work of administrative restructuring within Arts is, in all cases, complicated by the fact that our plans must respond to and align with developments within the SET program. This is particularly true with regard to any rethinking of structures, positions, and roles within the Faculty Office.

We know that work processes, particularly with regard to finance and HR, will be transformed when SET establishes the Transaction Processing Hub. It is also clear that key areas, such as IT, will be impacted by consolidation of tasks and functions within the Centres of Expertise. It is further expected that a number of existing Faculty of Arts positions will be impacted by the creation of the new Service Partner positions in functional areas such as HR, finance, and external engagement, among others. All of this is explained in the March 23 message on ‘Arts Restructuring & SET’.

Despite an increased understanding with regard to the work of the SET program, there is still considerable uncertainty. Some of this uncertainty flows from the fact that SET’s six functional workstreams are not all working to the same timelines. Key decisions have been made with regard to Finance, Human Resources, and, to a lesser extent, Information Technology. But, the work of the Student Services, Research Administration, and External Engagement streams remains more preliminary.

For the Faculty Office, the responsible course of action is for our administrative restructuring to proceed, but with timelines and processes that remain flexible and responsive to change and decisions coming from the SET program. Careful planning and action are required to ensure the Faculty Office remains an effective administrative organization that makes the most of the skills and talents of our staff. While I am committed to introducing changes that are necessary, we are all keenly aware of the importance of maintaining significant on-the-ground organizational continuity, as this is essential to the retention of valuable institutional memory and the continued provision of services to our students, academic programs, researchers, and creative artists.

Below you will find the process map, which details some of the work that has been completed and the steps to be taken over the course of the next few months. The process map also highlights some key groups and individuals who will be involved.

As the process map shows, we have begun the work associated with gathering and analysing information on tasks performed (Phase 1). Faculty General Manager Jen Hibbert and I have also been working with Senior Officers to explore how SET will impact the work of the Faculty Office and our existing structures and processes. As the initial ‘Design Phase’ (Phase 2) progresses, we will further consult with Senior Officers and engage with other stakeholders (Phase 3).

By the end of April, and as we move into May, we will shift to Phases 4, 5, and 6. By then, key organizational design decisions will have been made, allowing attention to shift to preparing for implementation. Throughout this dynamic process, we will continue to work to ensure our plans align with SET and, importantly, that we inform and engage with staff, in the Faculty Office and beyond. The goal is to ensure a proper and supportive transition.

Our commitment throughout this process of administrative restructuring is to put the needs of the Faculty of Arts students, researchers, instructors, and staff at the heart of the design. Of course, saying this does not alter the realities of these challenging and angst-filled times. I truly appreciate your ongoing patience and engagement with this process.

Thank you.

Steve Patten
Interim Dean

May 12, 2021: New Positions - Academic Department Managers

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to offer an update on the Faculty of Arts’ administrative restructuring initiative. In particular, I want to provide information regarding the position of Academic Department Manager (ADM), a key position in the new ‘administrative services units’ that will be at the core of Arts’ new shared services model. 

In my March 12th message to the Arts community, I presented you with the timeline and process map for the restructuring of administrative services units that support our academic Departments and programs in the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Since then, the work has progressed through the first four phases. We began by gathering information on departmental administrative activities, analysing the impacts that the various dimensions of the Service Excellence Transformation (SET) program will have on our administrative processes, and carefully considering alternative approaches to delivering core services in support of teaching and research. This work culminated in draft designs for the administrative services units’ organizational structures, which have been refined in consultation with academic and administrative leaders in our Departments. Last week, we confirmed the roles and responsibilities of Arts’ ADMs and determined the process for their selection.

Today’s message provides details on the role of the ADMs as key administrative leaders. Once appointed, the ADMs will be essential to the final confirmation of the organizational structure and positions that will support our academic Departments. While we must put off sharing the organizational charts for the new administrative services units until they are finalized and approved, the following will hopefully provide you with some sense of the coming changes.

Changing Departmental Administrative Leadership

Currently, academic Departments and programs are supported by administrative teams headed by Assistant Chairs Administration (ACAs). Some ACAs are responsible for staff serving a single Department, while others are responsible for administrative teams serving two or more Departments. ACAs offer advice to Chairs and Associate Chairs, work closely with Chairs on the teaching plan process, support the review and hiring of Academic Teaching Staff, offer yearly evaluation and performance management of staff, among many other duties.

In the future state of Arts, the position of ACA will cease to exist and the administrative model will shift from Departmental administrative teams to a shared services model with three administrative services units structured to serve Departments in the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The ADM role has been mandated by the University as a part of the SET Program of administrative reforms. In departmentalized Faculties across the university, ADMs will serve as operations managers for the administrative units offering administrative and strategic advice to Chairs, mentoring and coaching staff, and overseeing efforts to adapt processes and procedures for sustainable outcomes. In the Faculty of Arts, the ADM will be a critical leadership position, and our ADMs will work closely with the Faculty General Manager (FGM), Jennifer Hibbert, to ensure effective support of teaching and research in the Faculty.

ADMs will Provide Leadership to Divisional Administrative Services Units

The organizational design that is currently being finalized will have five ADMs leading and managing the services within the three units. In my March 12th message, I noted that each of the units will be unique in design, as the needs of programs and activities vary among the Departments in the three divisions. The ADM role for the Faculty of Arts has been designed with the challenge of this variety in mind: two ADMs will serve the Fine Arts, one supporting academics and the other productions and operations; one ADM will serve the Humanities; one ADM will serve the Social Sciences with the exception of Psychology, which will have its own ADM supporting both Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Science services to the Department. While the ADMs will report to the FGM, they will continue to work in close collaboration with and serve the Chairs in their respective units.

Of course, because the move to a shared services model represents a departure from key aspects of past administrative practices, the way Departments and their members are served will change. These changes will be amplified by broader impacts under the SET Program, especially the creation of the HR and finance transactional services hub, the introduction of Service Partners, and final decisions with regard to functions that will be located in the Colleges – some of these matters were discussed in my March 23 memo, which can be found on the Arts restructuring webpage.

As tasks previously done by our ACAs and other Department staff shift to the transactional services hub, the ADM in each of our administrative services units will provide leadership with regard to where responsibility will lie for initiating and tracking different types of requests that go to the transaction hub. The ADMs will be responsible for working with HR, finance, and other Service Partners as they are assigned to the Faculty of Arts.

Next Steps

We will begin the process of filling these positions immediately, with the goal of completion before the end of May. In accordance with Appendix F.6 in the APO Collective Agreement, all five positions will be open for application from current APO members in the Departments being merged administratively within Arts.  Once the appointments have been made, we will provide the Arts community with an update. The ADMs are critical to the administrative leadership in Arts and therefore must have significant input as we work toward finalizing the organizational charts for each individual administrative services unit. Given their important role in leading and managing staff, they will also work together with the FGM and HR staff on confirming and finalizing the positions on the organizational charts. Our hope is to have the new administrative services units largely in place by early July.

I recognize that these changes to the administrative leadership of the Faculty will be difficult for many. Our ACAs are valued members of Departments, touching the work lives of all in Arts, including faculty members, instructors, students, and staff as well as donors, community partners, and alumni. They are often the first point of contact in a crisis, the first to hear celebratory news, or the first to welcome visitors from the outside. Many hold the historical knowledge of our Departments. We will work to maintain on the ground continuity and strong staff connections to Departments wherever possible, and to ensure the smoothest transition possible over the coming months. At the same time, one reality of post-SET life will be fewer and different administrative staff positions, which asks us to reimagine how we do many things in Arts and identify what we can no longer do.

Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support and engagement throughout this process.

June 21, 2021: Arts' New Shared Administrative Services Units - Organizational Structures

Dear Faculty of Arts Community,

I am writing to you today to share the organizational structures for the administrative services units that will support the Departments and programs in the Divisions of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and for the Faculty Office.

In this message:
  • Arts Restructuring & UAlberta’s Operating Model
  • Administrative Services Units
    • Fine Arts
    • Humanities
    • Social Sciences
  • Faculty Office
  • What’s Next?

The Arts restructuring initiative was launched in August 2020. Following months of consultation, a decision was taken to focus on administrative, rather than academic, restructuring. Central to planning since this decision was announced in early 2021 has been a commitment to a new ‘shared services’ model for the provision of administrative services in support of our academic Departments and programs. On March 10th, I announced that this shared services model would proceed along our existing divisional lines, and in subsequent emails I provided the Arts community with process maps and timelines for these restructuring exercises. These messages, and other correspondence regarding administrative restructuring, have been posted to the Faculty’s Restructuring Initiative website.

Since that time, I have worked alongside Faculty General Manager Jennifer Hibbert, Vice-Dean Carrie Smith, and Senior Service Partner for Human Resources Stacey Brennan and with Chairs and key stakeholders to develop the structures in today’s message.

Arts Restructuring and the University of Alberta Operating Model:

All restructuring in the Faculty of Arts is taking place in response to the larger University of Alberta for Tomorrow (UAT) initiative, which is made up of the academic restructuring of the institution into Colleges and the transformation of administrative services through the Service Excellence Transformation (SET) program. I addressed the latter in a detailed message to the Arts community on March 23rd. A future message will look at the impact of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities on the structure of Arts leadership and services as this becomes more apparent. Together, academic restructuring and SET form the new operating model for the University of Alberta, which was addressed in a full report released earlier this month. The focus of the operating model is to rethink academic leadership and administrative services to support and strengthen the institution’s core teaching, research, and community engagement mission. Driven by a need for institutional responsiveness to the funding crisis and constrained budgetary realities in the future, the operating model seeks to offer a plan for delivering the professional and administrative support to faculty and students in a manner that promotes consistency, avoids duplication, and amplifies the existing excellence in service.

While key individuals were consulted on what follows, it is worth noting that many in Arts are deeply engaged in supporting the restructuring processes in the university with their expertise and insight. Several Arts staff members have been seconded to the six functional workstreams of SET while others sit as volunteers on its advisory and change management committees. Such commitment ensures that our unique experience in Arts is understood by and well represented to institutional leaders and consultants, and that decisions we make in Arts are informed both by knowledge of on-the-ground work in our own Faculty as well as key insights into how SET’s decisions might impact that work.

Given the pressures faced by the institution and the need to respond to a permanent reduction in our budget accordingly, the process for developing the new organization of administrative services in the Faculty of Arts has needed to be attentive to the operating model and position changes imposed by SET. Coming months will likely see further adjustments as the College structure is finalized and implemented.

Administrative Services Units:

As we designed the following structures against this background, our focus was to build teams large enough to ensure the provision of core services while increasing the potential for flexibly assigning staff to important work as priorities shift across the academic year as well as between Departments and programs. Throughout the process, we have articulated our commitment to finding cost-effective ways of supporting teaching, research, and creative activity that focuses on continued excellence, preservation of Departmental communities, and continuity.

In the charts below, you will find familiar roles common across the units, including Executive/Administrative Assistant, Undergraduate Advisor, and Graduate Advisor. You will also find positions -- existing and new -- that are unique to each Division. Such difference recognizes and respects the varied needs of Departments and programs. In addition to these distinct features, you will also find roles that are new to some or all of the Departments in the Division. These roles include a dedicated Research Coordinator located in each Division and a position responsible for web and communications in each Division. By bundling those activities currently part of many individual jobs across Departments, we hope to fill specific needs we heard articulated by faculty members and staff during the consultation process. You can access a document containing all of the charts here.

Fine Arts

The services to the Division of the Fine Arts include the staff serving the many programs and Degrees in the Departments of Art & Design, Drama, and Music, but also the performance facilities, studios, and workshops that support teaching, research, exhibitions, and productions. To recognize the complexity of this Division, the services have been divided into two teams: one providing administrative services to the Departments and programs, the other serving the production and operations side. Reporting to the Faculty General Manager and working closely with the Chairs of the three Departments, each team is led by a Department Manager who will collaborate on the provision of services to academic programs, research and creative activity, and productions and exhibitions. 

Headed by Department Manager Barbara Baker, the first administrative services team will be responsible for administrative support for academic programs and research:

In this organizational chart, you will find two undergraduate and two graduate advisors along with a student advising lead who will play a central role in coordinating support to students in the three Departments, supporting the teaching plan development process, and advising. Further, two Executive/Administrative Assistants will support the three Department Chairs along with fulfilling other administrative tasks. The Department Manager will determine the manner in which these advisors and assistants are allocated to programs and Departments as the structure is implemented. The Web, Communications, and Recruitment Coordinator will oversee responsibilities related to outward-facing materials promoting the Fine Arts programs and activities as well as recruitment unique to the Fine Arts Division. There will also be a dedicated Research Coordinator who will support the research and creative activities of the unit, including grant submission and budgetary review.

The second administrative services team in the Fine Arts, headed by a second Department Manager (competition underway), will be responsible for productions and operations:

Many of these positions represent those that already exist to support the theatre and music productions in the Faculty, including ticket sales, costumes and property, technicians, and operations. These jobs -- formerly located primarily in two of the three Departments -- are organized into new reporting structures in keeping with the institutional operational model. Together these teams will ensure that the excellence that is the Fine Arts at the University of Alberta remains highly visible inside and outside the institution.

Humanities

The Departments and programs that are formally within the Faculty of Arts’ Division of Humanities make up the next administrative services unit. These include Media & Technology Studies, and the Departments of East Asian Studies; English & Film Studies; History, Classics, & Religion; Modern Languages & Cultural Studies; and Philosophy. The Humanities Division is led by Department Manager Eva Glancy, who reports to the Faculty General Manager and works closely with the academic leads -- Chairs and Directors -- in the six units.

In this organizational chart, you will find three undergraduate and three graduate advisors along with a further advisor who also functions as Service Teaching Assistant. This latter position is unique to Humanities, a Division that sees the bulk of service teaching in the Faculty. The advising team will be led by an Assistant Department Manager who, in addition to coordinating support to students in the six units, supporting the teaching plan development process, and advising on an as-needed basis, will also assist the Department Manager in the work of the administrative services unit. Further, five Executive/Administrative Assistants will support the five Chairs and MTS Director, along with other administrative tasks. The Department Manager, in conjunction with the Assistant Department Manager, will determine the manner in which these advisors and assistants are allocated to Departments and programs as the structure is implemented. The Web and Communications Coordinator will oversee responsibilities related to outward facing materials promoting Humanities activities. Two dedicated Research Coordinators will support the research and creative activities, including grant submission and budgetary review, of the faculty members housed in the Division.

Social Sciences

Two teams will provide administrative services to the Social Sciences Division. One team will service the Departments of Anthropology, Economics, Linguistics, Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s & Gender Studies. Given the complexity of supporting students, instructors, researchers, and faculty members across two Faculties in two separate Colleges, the administrative services for Psychology will be organized into a second team within the Division. Reporting to the Faculty General Manager and working closely with the seven Chairs of the Departments in the Division, each team is led by a Department Manager who will collaborate on the provision of services.

Headed by Department Manager Lihong Yang, the first administrative services team supporting the six Departments will be organized as follows:

In this organizational chart, you will find four undergraduate and four graduate advisors led by an Assistant Department Manager who, in addition to coordinating supports to students in the six Departments, supporting the teaching plan development process, and advising on an as-needed basis, will also assist the Department Manager in managing the work of staff in the administrative services unit. Further, five Executive/Administrative Assistants will support the six Department Chairs, along with other administrative tasks. The Department Manager, in conjunction with the Assistant Department Manager, will determine the manner in which these advisors and assistants are allocated to Departments and programs as the structure is implemented. The Web and Communications Coordinator will oversee responsibilities related to outward facing materials promoting Social Sciences activities. There will also be two dedicated Research Coordinators who will support the research and creative activities, including grant submission and budgetary review, of the faculty members in the Division.

Standing separate yet in relation to the first team in the Social Sciences Division, the second team, led by Department Manager Jan Boulter, will concentrate its services to Psychology:

In this organizational chart, two undergraduate and one graduate advisor will support Arts and Sciences students in the Department. Further, one Executive/Administrative Assistant will support the Department Chair, along with other administrative tasks. While many of the remaining roles are unique to Psychology, certain supports may be drawn on where needed from the first Social Sciences administrative services team.

Faculty Office:

All organizational plans for the provision of services in the Faculty must respond to and align with the developments of the SET program and the new institutional operating model. Nowhere is this truer than in the structures, positions, and roles located in the Faculty Office. As outlined in my March 23rd message “Arts Restructuring & SET” and again in my April 13th message regarding the process map for Faculty Office restructuring, work processes -- particularly with regard to finance and HR -- will soon be transformed by the Transaction Processing Hub, while key areas such as IT will be impacted by consolidation of tasks and functions within the Centres of Expertise. As the new Service Partner positions in functional areas come into being, many positions in the following chart will change further. The extent and scope of all these impacts, along with Arts’ ability to respond, are still being determined as key decisions have yet to be made.

Moreover, the administrative services and academic leadership components of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities offer an additional layer of complication. We know that certain structures and authorities being discussed for the Colleges -- such as with regard to research administration or student services -- as well as the potential for existing Associate Dean positions to be relocated to the College will have very real implications for the work being done in the Faculty Office, and may impact some administrative services and academic leadership positions in the Faculty as a whole. I will update the Arts community with a future message as the implications become clearer and the conversations about the Colleges evolve.

That said, the transformation of administrative services to support Departments and programs along with the establishment of the Faculty General Manager and Department Managers as key positions in Arts necessitate the reorganization of reporting lines and roles in certain areas of the Faculty Office over which we have the most knowledge and control.

The structure for the Faculty Office, based on what we know today, is as follows: 

As seen here, academic leadership in the Faculty remains the purview of the Dean, supported by the Vice-Dean and Associate Deans. The operational direction and oversight of the Faculty, formerly in the Vice-Dean’s portfolio, has moved under the responsibility of the Faculty General Manager, who takes on its administrative leadership.

The most impactful organizational change represented here is in the administrative stream of the Faculty Office. Here, a new role in the form of Faculty Services Manager, reporting to the Faculty General Manager, will lead a team with responsibilities for facilities, health and safety, executive support, governance, research, awards, advancement, and projects.

For the time being and until decisions coming from the SET program indicate otherwise, Directors and Senior Officers reporting to the Faculty General manager will lead either existing or consolidated teams in areas such as the Arts Resource Centre, Communications and Marketing, Undergraduate Student Services, and Centres and Institutes. Also on this chart, as part of the Faculty Office and reporting to the Faculty General Manager, are the five Department Managers, whose administrative services teams support Departments and programs. Further, coded in purple are the anticipated service partners who, while not formally part of the Faculty, will be key to its success and will work closely with administrative and academic leaders to provide appropriate and responsive levels of support.

What’s Next?

We are now moving into the implementation stage of the Arts restructuring process. On June 25th (and again on July 5) there will be a town hall for Faculty of Arts staff. These meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss the org charts and answer questions about the next steps in the process of staffing the administrative services units, including information on a soon-to-be-announced option for selected NASA positions to apply for voluntary severance. An invitation to these meetings will soon be forwarded to staff in the Faculty, Departments, and units.

As key decisions are made with regard to staffing and implementation of the shared administrative services units, the Department Managers will work together with the Faculty General Manager to develop resources and information sessions to help faculty members and students orient themselves to the new administrative structures. Our goal throughout will be continuity and continued responsiveness in the provision of services. At the end of the day, we all must become accustomed not only to administrative restructuring within the Faculty of Arts, but to a multitude of changes that will result from the various SET workstreams and the establishment of the Colleges. None of this will be easy, and a great deal of learning and adjustment will be required.

The multiple processes of change we are navigating at the University of Alberta demand mutual generosity, patience, and care, particularly for staff who face so much uncertainty while doing their very best to serve our students, academic programs, and researchers.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we manage these multifaceted processes!

Steve Patten
Interim Dean

August 30, 2021: Arts' Restructuring - From Planning to Implementation

Dear Faculty of Arts Community,

Over the summer, the Faculty of Arts shifted from planning for administrative restructuring to implementation. As the Fall term begins, we need to share information that will help students, faculty members, and staff adjust to the new shared services model of administration that will support our academic programs and Departments.

Last week, Vice Dean Carrie Smith and I hosted three information sessions at which the Academic Department Managers leading the teams in Fine Arts (Barb Baker), Humanities (Eva Glancy), and Social Sciences (Lihong Yang) gave presentations outlining their plans for organizing the administrative teams that will provide student advising and key supports to our Department Chairs and faculty members. These info sessions represent just the first step in the process of helping everyone understand and adjust to our new administrative structures. Please rest assured that critical information presented during last week’s information sessions will be condensed into ‘cheat sheets’ which will include outlines of who to call for different types of support – these are being developed and will be circulated soon.

I write today to provide an overview of the lay of the land with regard to administrative and academic restructuring.

Background – Why & How We Got Here:

In August 2020, I launched a three-phase, consultative process with the goal of mapping a path toward academic restructuring (as a refresher, here are links to information on Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3). With encouragement from the Provost, this restructuring initiative was designed to support the reimagining of the administrative homes (Departments) of our academic programs and faculty members. The goal was to reduce the number of academic units in the Faculty of Arts by combining existing Departments to create a smaller number of larger, multi-program Departments. The motivation?  Budget cuts:

  • Faced with the challenge of managing the cumulative impact of a sequence of significant cuts to UAlberta’s government-funded Campus Alberta Grant, the University initiated a process of academic and administrative restructuring under the University of Alberta for Tomorrow (UAT) initiative. Under UAT’s Service Excellence Transformation (SET) program of administrative restructuring, the Faculty of Arts has had its budget for non-academic staff and administrative support cut by roughly $3.8million.

After months of consultation and discussion, the decision was taken to abandon plans to restructure our academic Departments in favour of an exclusive focus on administrative restructuring (see February 18 Arts Restructuring Update). In March, I wrote to the Faculty community announcing the launch of an administrative restructuring initiative rooted in building three shared services teams to serve the Departments in each of the Faculty’s three Divisions: Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences (see March 10 communications). Since then, we have endeavored to keep our community informed with regular updates, including providing ‘process maps’ and timelines (see updates from March to May).

On June 21, I wrote to the Faculty of Arts community and provided a detailed overview of the new shared administrative services units – including organization charts – that will serve our academic programs and Departments (see June 21 communications). This document provides a useful overview for those wanting to understand the new organizational structure.

Of course, restructuring and position reductions have also been occurring in other parts of the Faculty Office, ranging from our HR and finance teams, to the Undergraduate Student Services Office (USS), and the Arts Resource Centre (ARC). Many of these changes are unavoidable and driven by changes initiated by the SET program and UAlberta’s new operating model. I can assure you, however, that I am committed to maintaining effective teams in all areas, including USS and ARC. What is essential is that we maintain a commitment to serving the needs of our students, academic programs, researchers, and creative artists. This is no small challenge.

Restructuring Beyond the Faculty of Arts:

The many changes underway within the Faculty of Arts are driven by or in response to administrative and academic restructuring in other parts of the university (on this, see March 23 update on Arts Restructuring & SET). Guided by the SET program, UAlberta has undertaken a transformational process of administrative restructuring focused on increased centralization, specialization, and shared services. Central to this restructuring has been a shift to providing Faculties with HR and finance support through ‘Service Partners’ who are a part of central HR and finance teams, but are assigned to serve faculties. Also, a new Staff Service Centre has been established to deliver high volume, transactional, and typically standardized services that cannot be provided by our HR and finance Service Partners.

These changes are impacting staff and faculty across the University. Particularly in the areas of HR and finance, work that used to be done in our Department and Faculty offices, is now being taken up by staff in the ‘transaction hub’ that lies behind the Staff Service Centre. There are also changes in the work of central portfolios such as the Vice President (Research and Innovation) and Information Services & Technology (IST).

Finally, as we are all aware, the university has established three Colleges, and most Faculties are now a part of an emerging College structure. The Faculty of Arts, along with Education, Law, and Business, is a part of the College of Social Sciences & Humanities. Over the next year, each of the Colleges will establish small ‘offices’ to coordinate specific services and supports related to research, graduate studies, and undergraduate programs – to be known as the Research Office, Graduate Office, and Office of Education (I would encourage everyone to review this Operating Model document, or at least review the information on the Operating Model webpage). As Dean, I am working to influence the course of academic restructuring and the College structure, and a number of Associate Deans and Associate Chairs are engaged in working groups where it is important that an Arts perspective is heard. Vice Dean Carrie Smith is among those working to support considerations of EDI and furthering Indigenous Initiatives as the Colleges are established. Given the significance of advances toward putting flesh on the College skeleton, I will keep you informed as things develop.

Administrative Restructuring in Arts:

With the move to a shared services model, the Faculty of Arts will have five Academic Department Managers. The Department Manager overseeing the administrative team serving Departments in the Humanities is Eva Glancy. For the Social Sciences Division, the Department Manager is Lihong Yang, but another Department Manager, Jan Boulter, is responsible for the team that serves the Department of Psychology across both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. The Fine Arts will have two Department Managers, with Barb Baker responsible for supporting Art & Design, Drama, and Music as academic Departments, and a soon to be hired colleague, overseeing Productions and Operations related primarily to Music, Drama, and their facilities. The initial org charts for these administrative units are available on the Arts restructuring webpage and reproduced with commentary in the June 21 communications. Information on the staff (names and contact information) who are populating these organizational charts will be shared soon.

The process of establishing these units has been onerous. Following HR policies and procedures related to formalizing positions, working with our unions on protocols and procedures, providing an opportunity for staff to opt for voluntary severance prior to reorganizing positions, and then assigning and recruiting staff, has taken more time than initially anticipated. As such, we begin the academic year with some vacant positions, searches underway, and teams adjusting to the return to campus after 18 months of remote work. It’s a challenging situation, but staff are engaged and working harder than ever to support our academic programs, students, and faculty members.

In the coming days, Department Managers and/or the Department Chairs they serve will be circulating vital information about the administrative unit serving your Department. While not identical in organization, each unit has a team of undergraduate and graduate advisors with responsibility for serving specific academic programs and Departments. There are small teams of executive and administrative assistants who are organized to provide executive support to Chairs and administrative support to Departments. Each Division will have a staff member with specific responsibility for web and communications support and one or two research coordinators.

As mentioned above, information ‘cheat sheets’ containing essential information on who to contact for different types of support are under development and will be distributed to you soon. Importantly, information will also be shared with regard to office locations. After much discussion, the decision was made to co-locate the teams of staff with functionally-related responsibilities, such as undergraduate advising or graduate advising. Given the extent to which our Departments are dispersed across multiple buildings, the Department Managers are having to be creative when it comes to serving Departments. Fine tuning their approach to managing staff to serve distinct locations on campus will remain a top priority as we transition to the shared services model.

Not enough can be said about how hard our Department Managers and other staff have worked to advance the project of building these new administrative teams. They’ve been putting in long hours, often managing the responsibilities of vacant positions, while also moving through the learning curve associated with the Staff Services Centre and other aspects of the University’s new operating model.

Helping You Adjust… And Supporting One Another:

It is increasingly clear that Fall 2021 will be among the most challenging terms any of us have faced. There is ongoing uncertainty with regard to restructuring and potential job disruptions, we are adjusting to new administrative structures and operating procedures, and, as we come back to campus after a long absence, we are dealing with the continuing challenges of a pandemic and COVID-19 health measures. Each of these create unique stresses and challenges; together, they are unlike anything most of us have had to face in our work lives.

We all have a lot to learn and adjust to. In this process we must be generous and supportive. Knowing how hard our colleagues and staff are working, we must be patient and consider how we can be less demanding. In different ways we all find ourselves in a tough situation that requires a willingness to support one another.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we move to implement administrative restructuring in the Faculty of Arts.

Steve Patten
Interim Dean