Update from Dec. 11 Board of Governors

Today, the Board of Governors approved the establishment of three new colleges, consisting of 13 faculties and organized by disciplinary alignment with shared administrative services. This decision comes after many months of hard work and consultation.

Kate Chisolm - 11 December 2020

Kate ChisholmToday, the Board of Governors approved the establishment of three new colleges, consisting of 13 faculties and organized by disciplinary alignment with shared administrative services. This decision comes after many months of hard work and consultation. As a community, students, faculty and staff have come together proactively and thoughtfully to respond to significant reductions to the U of A’s Campus Alberta Grant.  

Following the recommendation of GFC, the Board passed the following two motions:

Motion 1:

THAT the Board of Governors, on the recommendation of General Faculties Council, approve a college model as defined in the Executive Summary below:

Executive Summary: For the purposes of this discussion, a “college model” is defined as a group of related faculties intended to promote coordination and collaboration between them. At a minimum, the college will provide common administrative services for the faculties in the college, with a view to providing a high level of service at a lower cost. Each faculty remains focused on its respective academic programming and research with minimal administration, and departments support the faculty in delivering the academic functions where disciplinary specialization makes sense. Currently, the sixteen faculties governed by the budget model each generate a stream of revenue. Those streams would continue to be separately calculated and assigned to faculties. Those faculties within colleges would be “taxed” at a common rate to fund any college-level services and initiatives. The remaining net amount is administered by the academic dean.

Motion 2: 

THAT the Board of Governors, on the recommendation of General Faculties Council, approve, effective July 1, 2021, the establishment of a:

  • College of Health Sciences, composed of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Faculty of Nursing, the School of Public Health, and the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation.
  • College of Natural and Applied Science, composed of the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences.
  • College of Social Sciences and Humanities, composed of the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Education, Alberta School of Business, and Faculty of Law.

It is important to note that the establishment of these colleges does not affect Campus Saint-Jean, Augustana, and the Faculty of Native Studies. These will remain stand-alone faculties to preserve and enhance their connections to key communities and partners.

As did GFC in its deliberations last Monday, the Board faced a much more difficult decision when it came to the management structure of the colleges. The Board has great respect for the collegial governance of the university and took very seriously GFC’s advice on this point. We heard GFC’s significant concerns around any creation of a new layer of academic and administrative leadership, specifically concerns that it will increase rather than reduce costs and decrease the important role that faculties and deans play in the collegial governance of the university. 

After thorough discussion of issues, the Board came to a compromise amendment to the GFC’s recommendation. In the amended motion, each college will be led by a collegial council of deans and implemented by a seconded college dean. 

The amended motion reads in full as follows:

Motion 3 (amended): 

THAT the Board of Governors, on the recommendation of General Faculties Council, approve an administrative structure for the college model that requires that:

  • the college be led by a collegial Council of Deans, in consultation with the Provost;
  • each college be implemented by a college dean, seconded from and by the existing deans (Council of Deans) within the respective college, who is responsible for the administration of the college, and reports to the Council of Deans;
  • each Faculty be led by a Dean who reports to the Provost, administers the Faculty budget, and is responsible for all matters relating to the academic program of the Faculty; and
  • after 18 months, the President shall undertake a review of the college administrative and leadership structure and report to the Board of Governors and GFC;

    With clear metrics, including financial and quality of shared services (including clinical,  excellence in interdisciplinary research, and education), to be developed by the Board of Governors, with progress to be reported monthly to GFC, the Board of Governors, and administration over the next 12 months.

The important decisions made this week reflect well on the U of A’s very strong governance.  GFC heard the Administration’s recommendation but elected, after diligent and careful deliberation, to amend it. The Board of Governors then heard and carefully considered GFC’s recommendations but amended one of them. This is exactly the process envisioned in the Post- Secondary Learning Act and it allowed us to arrive at a structure that will enable collegiality within the colleges while also ensuring that we can meet our budget milestones. Now, we can move on to working together to build a strong future.  

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication to the U of A. We would also like to thank the General Faculties Council, in particular, for working quickly and effectively to provide recommendations to the Board regarding academic restructuring in a short period of time.

Kate Chisholm
Board Chair, Board of Governors
University of Alberta

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