TransformUS action plan

To our campus community,

We want to begin by acknowledging how challenging the past two years have been for our campus community as the university has taken steps toward financial sustainability, and even more so in the past 16 months as we have undertaken TransformUS. We know there are big expectations in terms of the action plan developed by the provost’s committee on integrated planning (PCIP) in consultation and coordination with our deans, executive directors, associate vice-presidents and unit leaders. We hope you will see the work of our TransformUS task forces, feedback from the campus community, and conversations with leaders, students and governing bodies reflected in the action plan we are sharing with you today.

The action plan is characterized within four themes – simplify and amalgamate structures, focus on core mission, share services by working together across unit boundaries, and allocate resources to priority programs and services. There is a bias toward action in this plan: we are seeking to advance the university decisively rather than through small, incremental steps. As you read the plan, it is important to remember that TransformUS is not only about short-term cost reduction. It is about effective use of our resources, minimizing future costs and ensuring that our resources are focused behind our priorities.

In addition to the action plan, a series of project briefs and a document indicating how PCIP addressed all of the recommendations of the two task forces will be available online at transformus.usask.ca on Thursday, May 1 (NSID protected). These briefs will provide further information on specific projects outlined in the action plan.

Members of our campus community must remain focused on our goal: to be recognized among the most distinguished research-intensive universities in North America and world-leading in selected areas of education and research. Achieving this goal requires our collective energy. We thank you, the members of our campus community, for your contributions and perseverance in this journey through TransformUS.

We know you are likely to have many questions while reading the action plan and encourage you to speak to your dean or unit leader, visit the questions and answers page on transformus.usask.ca, and continue to engage in conversation with us on our blog. As projects within this plan progress, we will provide updates on our blog and through emails to the campus community.

Warm regards,

Brett and Greg

View TransformUS action plan

9 thoughts on “TransformUS action plan

  1. I am glad to read Brett admitting that the U of S has a “historic mission of service to the province.” The University Act was very clear in its intentions. Brett, by privileging Walter Murray as the main creative visionary, you misrepresent and distort the past. He was appointed as the first president, but it was the province (people) who wanted, supported, and voted for the university — specifically as a way to consider and solve local and regional problems.
    The TransformUS statement declares the need to study worldwide problems that also have a bearing on Saskatchewan. I suggest that this thinking is backwards. The U of S should study Saskatchewan and by extension northern, prairie, and great plains problems that have a bearing on the larger Canadian and world community. In the end, it is about creating a better world– which I am sure is the goal for both of us. My fear remains: the starting point, and audience, matters. The vector should start here.

    • Thanks for writing again, Merle. I appreciate the points you make. While you and I won’t agree on everything, I’d like to think we kind of meet in the middle around the idea that the U of S should, by virtue of its mission, excel in those things that are important both to the province and the world.

  2. Unfortunately, the university has lost site of its primary goal of serving the people of Saskatchewan. Perhaps that is too narrow a view, in such a global economy.
    But is this fantasy of a world or North American leader in research and targeted areas of expertise realistic? Why not a goal of making the Saskatchewan people through an affordable and diverse education,leaders in the community, the province, Canada and north America. We need people who can lead with wisdom, who can think outside the cooperate box, who recognize what is happening to our environment, to our agricultural base, our urban infrastructure. This will not happen if we forget about the people and children of Saskatchewan.

    • I respect your feelings and I understand your desire to see the historic mission of service to the province be honoured. Personally, I don’t believe the university has lost that goal. Walter Murray envisaged a university that would have an honoured place among the best. We choose to be among the best in areas that are important to Saskatchewan, including broad education in humanities, social sciences, sciences, and professions but also in particular areas like food security, water security, Aboriginal engagement, energy and mining, human-animal infectious diseases and vaccines … Our areas of research leadership have Saskatchewan all over them, and involve important projects within the province that benefit people and communities and students here. We offer the people of the province access within the province to world-class faculty and knowledge. It’s what we can do that absolutely no one else can do for Saskatchewan.

  3. In today’s Action Plan you write that “This is the first time that our university has looked at both program and service offerings together in a comprehensive manner.”

    Two questions: (1) How long have Brett and Greg been in their positions?
    (2) Why has it taken a “crisis” for you and the senior administration to look at these things in a comprehensive manner?

    The fact that it apparently took reduced upticks in provincial funding for senior admin to look at these things closely does not inspire confidence, frankly. Or, to put it as some of our constituents have, what have you been doing all this time???

    • I would refine that question slightly: Over how many Integrated Plans has the current Provost now presided, and to what extent can a plan be considered to be “integrated” if it does not “[look] at both program and service offerings together in a comprehensive manner”?

      This is a question that really does demand an answer, we think.

      • One point would be that we are not in a crisis. We are avoiding one.

        To be clear, the U of S has never done a simultaneous review of all programs before; nor a simultaneous review of all services; and of course never of both together, in the history of the university to my knowledge. To do this (via faculty-driven task forces, best available data, templates from units) is the definition of a Dickeson process. As we know, it is complicated and a lot of work, though I appreciate the encouragement that we should regard it as normal.

        Reviewing everything at once is not the same as planning. Integrated planning is integrated because it asks units to relate their academic or service plans to their resources. Planning is also driven by scanning the environment and identifying goals, not just by looking at the programs or services one has now.

        What Dickeson reviews and planning have in common is the idea of choosing priorities. In a mature planning process, the setting of priorities (planning documents), assessment (reviews), and budgeting (resource allocation) are all connected. At the U of S, we are getting close.

        • A simple question: Why did it never occur to the higher-ups that we might want to conduct such a study before now? We’ve heard time and again about “integrated plans”; what kind of integrated plan overlooks such broad swathes of funding and programming?

          • This is an odd question. Integrated planning involves all units across the university, asking each of them to develop plans and relate these to resources and to overall university directions (integration). No wide swathes were left out.

            I am glad you believe assessment is closely related to planning – it is – but they are not identical.

            University Council and I believe also the board adopted a Framework for Assessment in 2008. It prescribed selective reviews rather than systematic ones, other than for graduate programs.

            The idea that a single committee would review everything simultaneously is Dickeson’s idea. You may be right the university should have done it sooner, but thinking back on the last 18 months, are you really surprised no university enters into it lightly? It appears to me that many do not welcome it when those you call higher-ups start such processes.

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