We know with the end of the month quickly approaching, our campus community is looking for more information on what is to come with regard to the release of the TransformUS action plan and what will happen next at the U of S. We know rumours are rampant (have you heard the one that 200 positions will be cut May 1?) and hopefully this update will reduce some of the anxiety you may have.
As committed to in February, an action plan will be shared with the campus community on or before May 1. The action plan will identify a set of coordinated actions which, taken together, will represent response of the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning to the recommendations contained in the reports of the two task forces. The plan will include:
- An action plan that identifies a set of themes under which all actions will flow from, outlines a series of actions/projects to be taken to address the $20-25 million target and indicate who has the decision making authority (university’s governing bodies, unit leaders). One theme, simplifying structures, has already been explained on the blog.
- A set of project briefs that further define the cross-institutional and large-scale unit-based projects of university-wide interest, including scope, time frame and critical success factors.
- A document we are calling a disposition that outlines how the action plan compares with the recommendations of the two task forces.
All three of these elements will be shared publicly and posted online at transformus.usask.ca.
Projects outlined in the action plan and further defined in the project briefs will not be based solely on individual recommendations from the task forces. Extensive discussions have been held with college, school and unit leaders about how these roll up at the college/school/unit level to define actions addressing groups of recommendations and that are significant in terms of savings and/or efficiencies at the university level. Various smaller actions specific to a college/school/unit will be deferred to the unit leader for discussion, decision and corresponding action.
The plan will take into account the following:
- The new vision statement for the university
- The outcomes of the incentive plan for retirement for faculty
- The relationship of TransformUS to the overall operating budget adjustments (OBA) project
- The messages sent by the task forces regarding increased effectiveness/impact/profile of programs and services and the need to create a more horizontal organization with improved service delivery
- The need for increased flexibility for program and service delivery through new models and approaches to specifically address interdisciplinarity and break down vertical silos
Although a few actions will be taken very quickly, most actions will be phased in over the course of the coming year to allow time for discussions to take place and to follow the normal governance processes as described in the University of Saskatchewan Act. Timelines, some more specific than others, will be outlined in the action plan and project briefs.
We know many on our campus are anxious about what all this means for them, their roles and their jobs. With close to 75 per cent of our operating budget dedicated to salaries and benefits, we know there will be job loss as a result of changes made through TransformUS and other budget adjustment initiatives, although at this time we don’t have a specific number or timelines. We will continue to keep you, our community, informed throughout this process, and commit to ensuring there is support provided to employees affected by job loss and that all employment legislation and our employment agreements are followed.
To our students, when academic programs are affected, all students currently enrolled in programs as of the 2014-15 academic year will be given the opportunity to complete their program of study within a reasonable time frame.
We know there needs to be a significant transformation in the programs and services of our university in order to ensure our resources and activities align with our goals and priorities. Change is not easy, and we understand the anxiety that exists in this era of uncertainty. As we transition to the final phase of TransformUS, we are confident the actions we take will allow us to make significant gains in ensuring the future sustainability of our university and the changes to our programs and services will position us to make the first steps towards realizing our new university vision.
Please continue to watch the blog over the coming week to learn more about the themes that will make up the action plan. If you haven’t been to our blog lately, here are a few recent posts:
- Why we should not be “doing more with less”
- Why, at times, we need to eliminate positions
- Provincial funding support: The reality
- Theme: Simplifying structures
- What are the administration’s “pet projects”?
- The value of the U15
- Multi-year forecast: Importance and accuracy
- Changes to university leadership – a follow-up to yesterday’s announcement
- University of Guelph provost shares her thoughts on program prioritization
- Prioritization and other universities
If you have further questions, we encourage you to speak to your dean, executive director or associate vice-president, or to visit us on our blog to be part of the discussion.
Brett and Greg