Approved model for academic restructuring

On December 11, 2020, the Board of Governors approved academic restructuring plans for the University of Alberta. This is a milestone achievement in the U of A for Tomorrow initiative. Over the past five months, the U of A community has developed a creative new academic model that will preserve faculty identity, foster the expansion of interdisciplinary research, programming, and community engagement, and enable us to address our immediate and significant financial challenges. 

Effective July 1, 2021, the U of A will establish three colleges, bringing together 13 faculties organized around shared disciplinary concerns. The three colleges are: 

  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Natural and Applied Sciences
  • College of Social Sciences and Humanities 

Each college will be led by a collegial council of deans and implemented by a seconded college dean. Faculties within the colleges will remain, preserving their unique identity and history, with faculty deans having authority over all academic decisions and budget. Campus Saint-Jean, Augustana, and Faculty of Native Studies remain as stand-alone faculties to preserve and enhance their connections to key communities and partners.

Three colleges implemented by Executive Deans, containing 13 faculties led by Academic Deans: College of Health Sciences (Faculty of Medicine + Dentistry, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Nursing, School of Public Health, and Faculty of KSR), College of Natural + Applied Science (Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering, and Faculty of ALES), and College of Social Sciences + Humanities (Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Education, School of Business, and Faculty of Law); three standalone faculties (Augustana, CSJ, and School of Native Studies) led by Deans.

With academic restructuring, our goals are to:

  • Focus more of our resources on the frontline delivery of our core mission of teaching and research, rather than unit-level administration;
  • Create a more strategic, nimble, collaborative, and accountable leadership forum;
  • Re-set our administrative structures (in conjunction with SET) to be more consistent and more student-focused;
  • Improve the scope and structures to support overall research excellence, interdisciplinary programs and research, reducing course and program duplication, and creating more focused and accessible academic programming; and
  • Support institutional objectives for equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

Faculty should benefit from removing structural impediments to interdisciplinary collaboration and providing a structure conducive to both large- and small-scale cooperation. Students should experience outstanding academic programs with greater scope for interdisciplinarity, ability to transfer into and between programs, more transparency of offerings, and greater consistency of services and support. Staff should experience more rewarding and specialized work opportunities, within an operational model that significantly reduces redundancies and simplifies procedures and workflows. At the institutional level, a leaner leadership structure should be more nimble, able to respond to strategic opportunities.

Academic restructuring will be an iterative process. Transition planning will begin in January 2021 for implementation in July. The management structure of the colleges will be reviewed in detail in 18 months. And, over the next five to ten years, there will be ongoing opportunities to refine our organization as we continue to evolve in response to changes in the post-secondary education landscape.