The new administrative model



The approved operating model consists of a hybrid of centralized and decentralized services and functions. With two service centres—one for students and another for staff—and a universal transaction hub, the model will centralize many of the services and administrative activities, processes and functions that are common to faculties and units across the university.

At the same time, where specialized services and administrative needs are integral to academic programming, these will be provided in faculties, under the direction of a faculty general manager. To ensure a strong connection with and conduit into central services, service partners embedded in the academic units but reporting into portfolio Centres of Expertise, will bring their functional expertise together with specialized knowledge of the divisions and faculties.

The five core components of the model are outlined below. Please note that while the model has been finalized, the details that will make it functional (eg: defining processes and activities, determining organizational structure) are still being worked out with leadership and through consultations with staff.

Service centres

Service centres provide users with a central space that can address and triage user enquiries according to need and complexity.

The U of A will have two service centres: one for student needs and one for staff and faculty needs. They will include a digital platform where teams can resolve queries virtually, and will be complemented by a walk-in location providing users with access to self-service portals or in-person services.

Within the service centres, teams of support staff will be focused on specific areas. However, for the user, the service centres will be the “front door” to all services—no matter their question or need. The staff in the service centre will either be able to serve the user or connect the user to the office that can best help.


Student Service Centre: student counselling, expenses, communications, etc.
Staff Service Centre: benefits queries, payroll queries, expense reimbursement, IT support, etc

Centres of Expertise

Centres of Expertise consist of teams of functional specialists. Under the leadership of vice-presidents’ portfolios, these centres will provide strategic expertise and specialized service in their specific functional areas, such as finance, HR, IT, or communications. They will provide broad institutional leadership both in terms of setting service standards and ensuring service satisfaction.

It is critical to note that specialized functions and services that are integral to the delivery of specific academic programs will continue to be delivered within the faculty. See the “Faculties” section below.


Within the AVP HR, Health, Safety & Environment portfolio, there may be Centres of Expertise such as Talent Management, Health & Wellness, Safety & Environment, etc.

Service partners

Service Partners are experts in one functional area and provide functional support to a faculty. They will be embedded in faculties, working with the faculty general manager, but report directly to their ‘home’ function. For example, an HR service partner would be embedded in a faculty and work with the faculty general manager, but reports to the Human Resources, Health, Safety & Environment AVP portfolio.

They will be the link between the faculty and the specialists in the Centres of Expertise, listening carefully to the faculty’s needs and determining ways to achieve these objectives. They will provide strategic advice to deans, associate deans, chairs, and unit leaders, and be the main point of contact for matters relating to their functional area.


An HR service partner embedded in the Faculty of Arts would work with the Department of Sociology to provide HR support such as recruitment and manage the work done by the team at the Talent Management Centre of Expertise. This service partner would report to their senior service partner, who then reports to the director of HR partnerships in the AVP Human Resources, Health, Safety & Environment portfolio.

Colleges, faculties, and units

Where specialized services and administrative needs are integral to academic programming, colleges, faculties, and units will provide these services under the direction of a general manager who will work closely with the dean or college dean, and provide strategic advice and leadership on all administrative functions within the faculty.


Academic student advisor in each faculty, farmhand at the University Farm/Ranch, dental assistant at the School of Dentistry, program administrator of the Engineering Co-op program.

Transaction Processing Hub

A transaction processing hub streamlines transactional services and processes to create consistency, often taking advantage of automation technology. Teams of highly-specialized transaction staff support the hub. The transactional activities that these staff and systems manage are typically high-volume activities that require standardized processes across the university. Transaction staff focus on end-to-end process design, efficiency, and automation.

A key element of the hub will be the Continuous Improvement Team, charged with measuring service satisfaction levels and ensuring that activities are meeting the needs of the institution efficiently and effectively. 


Payroll, expense reimbursement, accounts receivable and payable, job posting administration, etc.