Announcement of Vice-Presidential Portfolio Reorganization

Bill Flanagan - 05 November 2020

Today, I write to inform you of organizational changes in the vice-presidential portfolios. U of A for Tomorrow is a process affecting every part of our university. Our goals are, first, to create administration and academic structures that focus the maximum amount of our resources and our energies on the U of A’s core mission of excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement; second, to restructure so that we achieve financial sustainability; and third, to reimagine how we do our work so that we can continue to provide high-quality services with fewer staff.

Achieving these goals will take time, and decisions continue to be made and unfold. Recognizing that all parts of the university will be affected, earlier this year, I announced changes to the executive team, including reducing the number of vice-presidents through the merger of University Relations and Advancement and reducing the number of my direct reports through the merger of General Counsel and University Secretary into one role. As a result of those changes, the executive team has decreased in size by 22%, with a savings of 25% as compared to 2018. My own salary is 32% less than that of my predecessor. These changes have resulted in reducing salary expenditures in the executive team by over $900,000 a year.

Last month the Board of Governors approved the university’s new operating model, which is a hybrid of centralized and decentralized services and functions. The model will centralize the services and administrative activities, processes, and functions that are common to faculties and units across the university. There will be two service centres—one for students and another for staff—and a universal transaction hub, as well as centres of excellence and a team of service partners. These centralized services will be led by the central portfolios. To set the stage for further planning, senior leadership roles and responsibilities in the university’s vice-presidential portfolios are changing to support continued restructuring of services and functions in alignment with the operating model.

One of the changes announced today is the renaming of the Finance and Administration portfolio to University Services and Finance. This highlights its focus on leading and delivering the university’s administrative services, with a commitment to providing common, high-quality, professional services to faculties and units across the institution. The portfolio will be the home of the Staff Services Centre and the Transaction Processing Hub, collectively known as Shared Services.

The level of change in each portfolio varies, but all will have a clearer and more consolidated set of responsibilities and functions than exist in the current structure, with a tighter focus on their areas of expertise. A number of difficult decisions have been made, with some units and activities being moved, consolidated, or redistributed within and across the portfolios; I would like to thank staff in these areas for their willingness to make these shifts. For example, procurement activities currently found in Facilities and Operations will be incorporated with the existing Supply Management Services in the University Services and Finance portfolio, while all revenue-generating services are being brought into a revised ancillary services unit in Facilities and Operations, which will now be called Campus Services. The number of direct reports has also been streamlined to 6 to 8 per senior leader. We are eliminating some AVPs and replacing them with new AVP roles that are essential to achieve the goals of SET, including the establishment of service centres.

An overview of the changes in each portfolio is available on the UAT website. 

It’s important to note each portfolio will have differing implementation schedules; implementation and transition planning will begin immediately and will be completed by March 31, 2021. We make this announcement today so that the next stages of development can now proceed.

As I have mentioned frequently, our community has undertaken a transformation process of an unprecedented scale and speed. Planning for academic and administrative change of this magnitude given our timeframe means that we are proceeding in stages, rather than all at once. I want to thank every member of the U of A community for all that you are contributing as we all manage through uncertainty and change. This is a collective effort. Ours is a resilient community. We are not only facing significant challenges—we are also finding solutions, achieving milestones, and setting a bold new direction that will ensure the long-term well-being and strength of the U of A.

Thank you.

Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-Chancellor

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