President’s Welcome

Welcome to a new academic year at the University of Alberta!

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Welcome to a new academic year at the University of Alberta!

Although Tuesday marked the first day of classes and the Students’ Union Week of Welcome, activities for the fall have been well-underway on all our campuses since last week. We welcomed 5,000 new students to residence at Augustana, Campus Saint-Jean, and North Campus on Move-In Days early last week, and immediately engaged them in a variety of orientation activities through Base Camp. Department and Faculty Councils began meeting for the first time this year, and the senior leadership team and I spent a couple of days in retreat preparing for next year. Yesterday, I had the privilege of addressing thousands of new students at the final event of Orientation, along with the presidents of the Students’ Union and Alumni Council, as well as the Minister of Advanced Education. My thanks to all those whose efforts have helped to make the last week a success!

With about 40,000 students and 14,000 faculty and staff members now on our campuses, representing over 156 countries and dozens of areas of study, we are fortunate to have such a diverse community of talent and voices at our university. Along with convocation, the launch of a new term reminds me of the core purpose of our work: that is, to transform the lives of individuals and society by creating and supporting enriched learning experiences for our students and pursuing new ideas and research questions with passion. When I see a new cohort of students arrive in September — and imagine how each one of them may be changed over the course of their degrees — I know that our work matters. Such reminders are critical to keep in mind, as we move into our daily routines and begin to focus on the multiple things that need to be done over the coming weeks and months.

Having a clear sense of our mission is all the more important in periods of uncertainty, and as we head into the fall months and begin our annual planning cycles, we will be operating in an uncertain context. Until the provincial government responds to the recommendations from the MacKinnon Blue Ribbon Panel and tables its 2019–2020 budget, we will not know how the post-secondary sector will be affected. Recently we have also had important changes in leadership on our Board of Governors, and are currently undertaking a presidential search that will continue over several months.

Uncertainty like this is nothing new and we’ve dealt with it in the past. We have strong fundamentals in place. We have an excellent strategic plan — For the Public GoodFor the Public Good — and every day we are advancing on key strategic goals, such diversifying our recruitment, expanding experiential learning, establishing signature areas, supporting professional development, building new Indigenous initiatives, and implementing our equity, diversity, and inclusion plan. Demand for our programs is incredibly strong and growing. Given the hard work that has been done over the last two years to review and update governance systems within both General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors, we have the decision-making channels we need to make effective, strategic decisions together. And, we have worked hard to eliminate the structural deficit within the operating budget. With the development and implementation of the new budget model and multi-year planning and accountability, we have the tools we need to help us make sound, evidence-based financial decisions.

Most importantly, I see every day how each member of the U of A community is committed to enhancing the success of our students and this university, constantly taking advantage of opportunities and overcoming challenges on a daily basis with energy and creativity. I look forward to working with you in the coming months with that same energy and creativity.

Please plan to join me at the 2019 State of the University Address on Tuesday, October 1 at noon in Convocation Hall.

My thanks again for your dedication to the U of A and best wishes for a rewarding semester of teaching, learning and research.

David H. Turpin
President and Vice-Chancellor