Follow-up to June 2 Town Hall

Bill Flanagan - 04 June 2020

I want to thank everyone who joined us for the virtual town hall on June 2 to learn more about the University of Alberta for Tomorrow proposal. Well over 2,500 people tuned into the livestream of the town hall and an additional 6,800 have viewed it online since. Your interest and engagement is not only very much appreciated, but more importantly, also vital to the future well-being of the U of A. As I outlined in my presentation, the scale of our challenge and the speed at which we must move to address it is extraordinary. Success will depend on all of us working together as we restructure and reorganize how we work and deliver the university’s core mission.

While we are only at the beginning of the process of academic and administrative restructuring, we are, as President Turpin outlined at the town hall, building from foundational tools put in place over the last several years. This includes multi-year budget planning and accountability processes, the new budget model, the institutional asset management strategy and end-to-end administrative bench-marking. The data that continues to be collected by people across the university through the UniForum program has revealed where we have opportunities to achieve major savings through restructuring. We have opportunities to learn from our UK and Australian peers who are also involved in the global bench-marking program. We need to move quickly so that we can be as strategic as possible in handling immediate budget reductions.

I am asking everyone to be open to new ideas of how we can structure work and how we can structure our campus life. The goal is to stabilize our financial position and put the university in an even stronger position to deliver on its mission and vision.

I want to emphasize that the work of the Academic Restructuring Working Group and Service Excellence Transformation Steering Committee is only just beginning. We were not able to address all of the questions received over the last few days and I want to assure you that there will be many more opportunities for questions and input. Transparency and consultation is going to be fundamental to the success of this initiative. This town hall was the first of many that will be devoted to this initiative. I will also hold small group roundtables where I can answer questions and seek feedback. I am in the process of meeting with Faculty Councils and look forward to learning more as I continue to meet more of you in smaller group settings. With respect to academic restructuring, all proposals will be taken to GFC, a body that is broadly representative of the university community. Likewise, these proposals will go before the board.

We will also continue to routinely update the UAT website. You can find my presentation there now and the livestream of the full town hall is also available. A FAQ is under development and will be posted early next week, along with an avenue for providing further input.

Finally, I would like to reinforce and affirm the university’s ongoing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, and truth and reconciliation. Our consultation process must be inclusive of the many diverse voices within our university community. We must also ensure that as restructuring proceeds, we do so in a way that continues to advance our EDI objectives.

I look forward to working with and learning from all of you as we move through this process.

Bill Flanagan