What to expect in the coming weeks

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

We also encourage you to submit any rumours you hear for the operating budget adjustment’s rumour mill. Rumours can be submitted online at usask.ca/finances.

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.

Warm regards,

Brett and Greg

15 thoughts on “What to expect in the coming weeks

  1. What to expect in the coming weeks: dismissal of senior administrators who bungled the Buckingham situation. Rank incompetence, embarrassed the university and tarnished its reputation for god knows how long. Nice work, “leaders.”

  2. We have been told from the very beginning that “there are no sacred cows”. I respectfully disagree: Academic freedom and freedom of expression are sacred cows. Irrespective whether we agree or disagree about certain aspects of TransformUS, today is a very sad day for our students, faculty and staff, and for people in this province.

  3. I don’t see any mention here, among the many things we might anticipate, of news reports that senior university leaders were intimidated by the Provost and President. What else should we be expecting, and why is senior administration in the business of manufacturing consent?

  4. This blog post refers on many occasions to “we.” Could you please take a moment to define who “we” is–and, since it’s implicit in the rhetorical device you’ve chosen, who “they” are? (The second sentence of your post does, in fact, posit a “we” and “you” construction, so this seems a fair question.)

    • This is a personal blog, so in most cases in the post above the “we” refers to Greg and me as the writers of the blog message. If we write “you,” that means the reader, whom we assume is a member of the campus community.

      Of course, the word we can also be an inclusive pronoun to refer to the whole community, including Greg and me, which we do at the very end of the blog above. In most cases I believe the reader will be able to identify the references; often, phrases like our university, our community, all of us, and so on are signals that the broad we is intended. If needed, the one sentence could be clarified as follows:

      “As we (collective) transition to the final phase of TransformUS, we (Brett and Greg) are confident the actions we (collective) take will allow us (collective) to make significant gains in ensuring the future sustainability of our (collective) university and the changes to our (collective) programs and services will position us (collective) to make the first steps towards realizing our new university vision.”

      • Given recent events concerning the firing of Dr. Buckingham, it’s clear that “we” means “those who do and say as we instruct them” and “you” means the people who have to guess which of those senior leaders actually means what they say and which are just covering their behinds. For shame.

  5. We have just learned from our colleagues in eMAP that their Director has been let go and that the future of their work unit is uncertain. Our program works closely with eMAP to accomplish key aspects of our business in a cost recovery model. In fact, eMAP is in process of producing a continuing education video for us to use with health care professionals. What plans are in place to connect with all programs or departments who currently have a business relationship with eMAP to enable us to continue to move forward with our planning and to ensure the viability of our programs?

    • Good morning Kathy,

      Like you I am concerned about the eventual fate of eMAP as implementation of the Action Plan rolls out. My home department is extensively engaged in distributed learning within and beyond our province. Teaching faculty in the department have worked closely with eMAP staff to develop course materials to support student learning through these on-line courses. Like you I am interested in sustaining the positive working relationship with eMAP.

  6. I would answer by saying that a plan is a statement of intentions. Previously I also described the plan as a roadmap directing proposals toward the offices or bodies that can make decisions. Necessarily we will be initiating projects that can change and turn out differently than intended, or even end up being rejected. The actions we will propose will be principled, coherent, and interdependent to a degree, and financial and other targets need to be met – so major changes in direction could be problematic and result in going back to the drawing board to come up with other measures. We will go down that road if needed, but will put the best ideas we can identify on the table to being with.

    • Hello Brett,

      Not to sound ignorant, but would you please describe your “plan” for eMAP in simple layman’s terms? Your response does not hit the original poster’s point at all.

      If this serves anything, it merely highlights the many levels of unnecessary bureaucracy that currently exists in the university by using jargon that only academics understand.

      • More information about EMAP will be available through the release of the TransformUS Action Plan.

        My first comment in this thread was in reply to a question about how PCIP’s action plan can navigate the university’s tricameral governance structure where academic changes are concerned. It was not about EMAP.

  7. Just a quick question: How realistic is it to lay out the notion of a forthcoming “action plan” for how we will be moving forward when academic programs, at least, will still be moving through the usual governance channels? It’s possible, though unlikely, that the Academic Programs Committee or University Council will put the kibosh on a good number of PCIP’s recommendations. How does such an eventuality figure into your latest blog post? Thank you.

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