The case for changing the U of A's academic structure

We are taking action to address immediate financial pressures, but change we make will also support the U of A’s academic mission and vision into the future. We recognize that society’s grand challenges require new forms of collaboration, and that the trend in research funding, in Canada and globally, is to promote collaboration across disciplines. Emerging areas of student demand are also interdisciplinary in nature. As we educate future citizens, workers, entrepreneurs, and leaders, we are increasingly asked to help our students work and think across traditional boundaries.

The university’s current academic structure makes it difficult to respond to these demands. Our faculty-based structures do not encourage cross-faculty research collaboration as strongly as they could, and current reporting lines do not facilitate cross-disciplinary innovation in programs and teaching as smoothly as they might. Moreover, our current structure results in course and program offerings that are both complex and sometimes duplicative.

In addition to our academic imperatives, reductions in our provincial operating grant, combined with other provincial directives, mean that we must reduce our overall expenses by more than $120 million over the next three years, net of tuition growth. It is important that we achieve this in a way that preserves the quality of our teaching and research mission. This means that we need to become more efficient, particularly in how we deliver administrative supports, and more collaborative, particularly in how we deliver academic programs.