External engagement workstream

The external engagement functional review will define the people, processes, and technologies required to implement the new operating model for external engagement services across the university. With the newly established External Relations portfolio at its heart, a restructured and reorganized, university-wide network of external engagement services will deliver cost-efficient, responsive, professional, and effective resources and services across all of our campuses. By streamlining our service offerings, we can better support faculties and departments in fulfilling their missions, as well as help staff within the External Relations portfolio to engage, advocate, fundraise, market, and communicate on behalf of the university.

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External engagement stream approach

The external engagement stream is divided into three main phases: discover, prepare, and transition. The purpose of discovery is to gather information on the external engagement processes and staff activities that are currently being done at the faculty/unit level. This provides the means to identify opportunities for optimization in processes and to streamline service deliveries.

In the prepare phase, the focus is on analyzing the functional needs and identifying gaps in external engagement and staff activities. Lastly, the transition phase will consist of developing and implementing transition plans to align the delivery of external engagement services with the new operating model.

External engagement stream approach overview

Career opportunities

The SET team has created an online resource which lists upcoming positions that are planned as part of the new administrative operating model. Once a position has been finalized and the competition launched, you can apply to it on the careers page


The external engagement stream consists of the following project team members:

  • Elan MacDonald — VP External Relations, Executive Sponsor
  • Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell — Incoming Interim Dean, College of Natural & Applied Sciences and Dean of Faculty of Science — Executive Sponsor
  • Andrea Smith — Chief of Staff, External Relations, Initiative Lead
  • Jasbir Sunner — Project Manager
  • Robbie Saul-Georgel — Project Consultant
  • Raji Rajalakshmi — Business Analyst
  • Sara Horseman — Financial Analyst
  • Wilbur D'Mello — SET Program Coordinator
  • Zac Ashkanasy — SET Expert Advisor
  • Oliver Rossier — Change Management Specialist

Consultation and engagement events

  • TBD: Ask SET Anything External Engagement Edition
Be sure to check the UAT consultation page for upcoming events.

Frequently asked questions

Can you clarify where communicators fit in the new operating model?

The primary responsibility for communications, including faculty/unit service partners will reside with the VP External Relations portfolio; however, opportunities to move client-focused services to the operating hub will be explored and implemented where possible.

Where will internal communications live within the new administrative operating model? Will some of it reside in shared services?

Institutional internal communications currently falls under the responsibility of the VP External Relations and will remain there in the new operating model. There may be a service component of this that moves to the shared services and/or certain faculty/unit focused communications that remain within the faculty; however we are too early on in the functional review to make that determination. 

What is the difference between external engagement and external relations?

For clarification, external engagement is the workstream being reviewed within the SET program as part of the U of A for Tomorrow initiative. External Relations is the name of the central portfolio under the VP, External Relations. The external engagement stream will review all activities related to communications, marketing, stakeholder engagement, and advancement across the university. 

Will each faculty only have one service partner for all external engagement services?

No, faculties may have more than one service partner, and each service partner will represent expertise in one functional area within External Relations.

What is the plan for internal communications in the new model?

Internal communications is a significant part of what we do, and is part of the service catalogue we are developing. We encourage communicators to share their thoughts about internal communications during the consultations that are happening over the next few weeks.

At what point will we know which roles will be centralized, and which remain in faculties/units?

We are aiming to have a final plan ready to share by the end of June.

How will we ensure that central has the capacity to support the quantity of work that faculties require?

In all SET service streams, there has been a discrepancy between the amount of work that faculties require and the amount of work that central units can take on. We ask that everyone continue to be flexible during these next few weeks and communicate when there are challenges. During the discovery process, we are looking for opportunities for efficiencies and talking to all partners to discuss future needs and set expectations.

Will the timing of the final plan align with the roll out of the new brand platform?

Marketing is an area that needs to be strengthened and aligned in the new structure. We will be conducting interviews in the next couple of weeks for the AVP Marketing and the brand roll out will be a top priority for this individual.

Will gift processing transition out of External Relations and into Finance?
This has not yet been decided but we have heard that this work is very strongly tied to established relationships with our donors and any changes will need to be very carefully analyzed.
Is process improvement part of the external engagement stream the way it is with other streams?

In some of the external engagement functions, specifically marketing and communications, the previous structures did not have linking processes across the university and will have to be developed. Ongoing process improvement should be a recurring theme in the new structure. An area where process improvement could play a role is the brand initiative to ensure that faculties and units across the university focus their work and align their strategies.

If you have questions relating to the University of Alberta for Tomorrow, Administrative or Academic restructuring, visit the U of A for Tomorrow FAQ.