The TransformUS project for prioritizing academic programs and support services is one of the strategies adopted by the University of Saskatchewan to provide information that can be used in making critical budgetary decisions in a context of financial shortfall.
At its January meeting, University Council approved a process for carrying out the project, and also approved the creation of two task forces, one to consider academic programs and the other to review support services. Selection of the membership of the task forces was carried out by a committee that included several University Council committee chairs, who reviewed over 200 nominations.
The Academic Program Transformation Task Force has 22 members, who represent a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, institutional history and committee experience. The membership includes an undergraduate student and a graduate student. No one on the task force has an administrative rank higher than department head. The provost and the acting vice-president finance and resources have been assigned the role of institutional champions of the TransformUS initiative. Administrative officers of the university will be providing support by compiling data requested by the task force, assisting with communications and technology, and making logistical arrangements. The expectation is, however, that the task force will conduct its work independently of the university administration.
In March, the Academic Program Transformation Task Force engaged in two one-day workshops. One of these was a joint workshop with the Support Services Transformation Task Force. A significant portion of the time at these workshops was devoted to formulating and reaching consensus on the criteria, weightings and categorizations that will be used as the basis for the review process. These elements are available for review on this website, and we invite members of the academic community to comment on them.
It should be emphasized that the TransformUS project represents a budgetary strategy. The task force is not conducting an academic review of programs, though what we learn about the quality of programs may be relevant to our assessment. We are not expecting to find that the university is offering a large number of programs that are of such a low standard that they should be eliminated on this basis alone. The premise of this exercise, as we understand it, is that the university must make difficult but necessary choices about what the institution can afford to do in the future. This may involve decisions to scale down or eliminate programs which have made important contributions and which are making effective use of their resources. Our task is to provide an indication of where existing programs fit in terms of university priorities as stated over time through the planning process and in other ways. The decisions ultimately made about specific programs will, of course, go through the normal university governing processes.
At this time, we are asking for your input about the criteria, and this input will be used in the finalization of those criteria and the formulation of a template that will be used to gather information from academic units about the programs they oversee.
We will be providing regular updates to the campus community as we have information to share. We thank you in advance for your involvement in the process.
Beth and Lisa