Consultation update

Bill Flanagan - 22 October 2020

Before I provide an update on consultations around U of A for Tomorrow, I want to begin with a note of sincere thanks. So much has changed on our campus with most of us working and studying online; all of this change is thanks to the hard work and patience of every member of our community. Like many of you, I would greatly prefer to be on campus, meeting with new colleagues face-to-face, and talking through issues without a screen mediating the space between us. But, I know that we all share the same commitment to keeping each other safe and healthy and limiting the spread of COVID —and I want to thank you for all that you are doing in this challenging time.

I also want to thank you for your continued engagement in U of A for Tomorrow. Provost Steve Dew, Rob Munro, Executive Lead, SET, and I have been continuing our roundtable meetings with faculties and other stakeholders groups. This week, we met with Rehab Med, Native Studies, and Law, as well as the Graduate Students’ Association and Students’ Union. Critical discussions were also held at key governance meetings of the Board of Governors, General Faculties Council, and Academic Planning Committee, along with Deans’ Council and the Staff Advisory Team. Since beginning this round of consultations, we have engaged with approximately 1500 people in roundtables and another 3700 through town halls, over about 30 hours. A special note of thanks to the nearly 400 alumni that joined us for the town hall Tuesday evening. A recap of our conversation is available here.

That so many students, faculty, staff, and alumni have joined us for roundtables and town halls demonstrates our shared commitment to the well-being of the university. Throughout, I have been heartened by the shared sense of urgency and a common understanding that we must change now to build resilience and strength in years to come. We appreciate the feedback we’re receiving about the scenarios, suggestions for different configurations, and thoughts about where we need to refine our assumptions.

We hear the concerns of many of you about the tight timeline we face. There is no doubt that we do have to make major decisions at an unprecedented speed. This is not easy but delaying will not ease our situation—we must meet our budget reductions within this fiscal year and if we are not acting quickly and strategically, we will diminish our capacity to deliver on our core mission.

This is why the Board’s approval of the high level operating model at its Oct 16 meeting was an important milestone for the SET initiative. In another post, Rob Munro provides a more complete update on the model. The decision to approve the model was essential for us to move forward with the next stage of planning that will help us to strategically manage budget reductions and job losses. Detailed planning is now underway--and we will be consulting with staff across the university as this comes together.

I encourage you to visit the UAT website often. There you will find answers to many of the questions being asked, in addition to the top five we answered in our post last week. You can also read feedback that we’ve received online and through Thought Exchange. All of this is being forwarded to the ARWG and SET teams for their consideration.

Thank you for the many contributions to date. If you wish to add your voice, please go to the UAT website or email us at uat@ualberta.ca.

Thank you.

Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-Chancellor