Action Plan Objective 1: Academic Transformation

Seeking academic excellence in teaching, learning, research, and creative activity lies at the heart of all endeavours at the University of Alberta. Pursuing this goal requires a continuous process of questioning, revision, evolution, and transformation. Over the last nine years, Dare to Discover and Dare to Deliver have guided this process of academic transformation and this work must continue. 

Our immediate priorities for Academic Transformation are:

  • Enhance graduate research culture

    March 2014 - University of Alberta Leadership meets with their counterparts from the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge to develop a case to make to government about increasing support for graduate students. This includes hiring more faculty, as well as enhancing research infrastructure and student support.

    March 2014 - The University of Alberta continues to improve research opportunities for graduate students through its involvement with the U15–Group of Canadian Research Universities. The U15 joins the Global Network of Universities and formally signs the Hefei Statement On The Ten Characteristics Of Contemporary Research Universities. 

    June 2014 - President Samarasekera reports that the Office of the Provost is making good progress on a major review of graduate education. This includes the development of a new four-year funding model for graduate students. 

  • Identify and strengthen areas of excellence

    March 2014 - Four U of A students (3 Chemical Engineers and one Finance student) participated in the first Annual Engineering Commerce Case Competition (ECCC) at Concordia University in Montreal. The U of A team won first place overall, as well as the innovation award. The student’s success built-on core leadership abilities developed through the university’s curricula: teamwork built on delegation, co-ordination and trust; goal focus; time management skills; and presentation skills.

    March 2014 - The 2013 Alumni Impact Survey is released. The survey was commissioned by Advancement and conducted by Business professors Tony Briggs and Jennifer Jennings. A first in Canada, the results clearly demonstrate the positive social and economic impact of U of A alumni both inside and outside of Alberta.

  • Continue to attract retain and reward exceptional faculty staff and students

    April 2014 - The university continues improve the undergraduate student experience by expanding the number of residences available to students. The university will add will add 143 new student bed spaces in a multi-purpose building in East Campus Village. Research indicates that students benefit in by staying in residence their first and second year 

    June 2014 - Vice-President (Research) Lorn Babiuk receives an honourary doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan.

    Sept. 2014 - Dr. Paul Armstrong is awarded the University Cup, the University of Alberta's highest honour at the 2015 Celebrate! ceremony.

  • Seek and facilitate collaboration and cooperation

    April 2014 - The Council on Aboriginal Initiatives invited University of Saskatchewan Chancellor Blaine Favel to participate in its meeting. University of Alberta Chancellor Ralph Young hosted his counterpart for the day.

    April 2014 - The University of Alberta continues to expands its excellence in water research through its collaboration with the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS). IC-IMPACTS is a pan-Canadian Centre bringing together researchers, industry innovators, community leaders, government agencies, and community organizations from across India and Canada, to work hand-in-hand to find solutions to the key challenges that affect the quality of life of millions of people in Indian and Canadian communities. It is built upon the vision of three of Canada’s leading research universities the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. The Integrated Water Management Theme of IC-IMPACTS which was developed by the U of A has so far funded six projects, two of which are led by U of A Principle Investigators. Through the U of A’s Engage North initiative, IC-IMPACTS also continues to work with Canada’s Northern and First Nations’ communities.

    April 2014 - The University of Alberta is helping enrich Alberta's rural arts communities through construction of the Camrose Performing Arts Centre. The Office of the Vice-President (Facilities and Operations) provided expertise and assistance in the building of the centre. It will support and grow Camrose's arts and cultural community, which encompasses more than 50 local groups involving more than 5,000 people from the City of Camrose, Camrose County and the University of Alberta.

    April 2014 - The University of Alberta signs the SMART City Alliance MOU with St. Albert. The university continues its work to develop innovation agendas in partnership with municipalities.

  • Implement Presidential Visiting Committees
  • Explore and implement innovative digital learning strategies

    Spring 2012 - President Samarasekera establishes a digital learning visioning committee in order to determine how the University of Alberta fits into the post-secondary digital learning landscape and to seek opportunities for growth.

    January 2013 - The president established the Digital Learning Pilots: Research & Development Project Committee (DLP: R&D) in order to manage a select number of MOOC and blended classroom pilots that would “offer the highest quality digital learning environment to enhance in-class experience and create a strong online learning presence."

    May 2013 - The Provost’s Digital Learning Committee (PDLC) is established to capture and translate the innovations and outcomes being achieved by the Digital Learning Pilots: Research & Development Project Committee (DLP: R&D) throughout the broader teaching and learning community across campus. The PDLC builds close collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Information Services and Technology, as well as other digital learning experts across the academy. 

    November 2013 - The Provost’s Digital Learning Committee (PDLC) hosts a conference on blended learning. 

    January 2014 - The Provost’s Digital Learning Committee (PDLC) provides funding to nine blended learning pilots. 

    September 2013 - The university launches its first MOOC Dino 101.

    September 2013 - Digital Learning Pilots: Research & Development Project Committee (DLP: R&D) oversees the development and implementation of blended courses, including a series of core blended courses in the Faculty of Education, and establishes innovations in digital learning pedagogy and the field of automated assessment. This work significantly strengthens the university’s national and international leadership in the field of digital learning.

    March 2014 - Outcomes indicate that Dino 101 and its associated on-campus courses, Paleo 200 and 201, have performed very well, with excellent participation and completion rates.   

    March 2014 - Pilots of blended courses developed and tested a selection of pedagogical strategies for both online and face-to-face portions of the courses. Various types of course design and delivery models (e.g., courses that were team taught, media intensive, more practical than theoretical, or had high enrollment) have met with success.

  • Expand and deepen international partnerships

    February 2014 - The Vice-President (Research) Lorne Babiuk visits Tsinghua University in Beijing. Tsinghua selected the University of Alberta as one of its five international partners. The Office of the Vice-President (Research) had planned a number of collaborative projects under previously agreed to themes and secured internal resources from both institutions to initiate these programs. During the visit the vice-president also identifies a number of companies in China interested in investing in collaborative research projects with the University of Alberta. These actions strengthen the university's relationship with a key international partner, and may lead to increased industry investment in U of A activities as well as enhanced research collaboration opportunities.

    March 2014 - The University of Alberta and the German Helmholtz Association agree to sign a master collaboration agreement as well as specific bi-lateral agreements with GFZ, Julich and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The three bi-lateral agreements build on previous activities in energy and the environment, as well as expand collaboration into medical imaging.

    March 2014 - The University of Alberta enhances its international reputation through its involvement in the U15 – Group of Canadian Research Universities. The U15 joins the Global Network of Universities and formally signs the Hefei Statement On The Ten Characteristics Of Contemporary Research Universities. 

    April 2014 - President Samarasekera attends the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Annual General Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. The WUN is a network of research intensive, publicly funded universities of equal standing, with members around the world. The WUN facilitates and connects the U of A and its researchers with member institutions worldwide; it fosters research relations and collaborations with partners in the network and beyond; it serves as a platform to exchange ideas and best practices between member institutions; and it helps to promote U of A research excellence among the partners in the network and beyond. At the April meeting, President Samarasekera completed her term as chair of the WUN Partnership Board.

    September 2014 - The University of Alberta participates in the international Falling Walls Lab. Falling Walls is an international research competition developed in Berlin, where young academics from all fields of study have the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of distinguished judges in a Dragons' Den-style competition. Participants are given three minutes to explain their idea, discovery or research project. The winner of the Alberta competition earns the chance to travel to Germany to participate in the Falling Walls international finale.