Moving forward

As some of you have noticed as indicated by comments on the blog and others I have seen on social media, the blog has been quiet for the past two weeks. Despite rumours you may have heard to the contrary, the events of the past two weeks required a significant investment in time that resulted in this gap.

As you will all know, the past few weeks have been an especially challenging time for our university and those who care about it, and we expect this to continue into the near future. I don’t want to gloss over these challenges, but I also feel there has been enough communicated in the past few weeks that I don’t need to reiterate what has already been said, only that I am committed to seeing our university move forward in a positive way.

I want to acknowledge that my friend and colleague, Brett Fairbairn, who up until last week was my co-sponsor in operating budget adjustments, will no longer be involved in TransformUS and other operating budget adjustment initiatives after stepping away from his role as provost and vice-president academic. Brett was a driving force behind the transformations our university is in the process of undertaking and I will miss the partnership we shared. Our partnership—that between a provost and a vice-president finance and resources—was unique in the post-secondary landscape. We achieved many milestones together over the past two years and I have learned so much in the process. I know few who work as hard as he has and are as dedicated to the university as Brett, and I want to thank him for this.

As stated by Acting President Gordon Barnhart last week, our priority right now is to take a moment to reflect on the recent events and to determine the path moving forward with budget adjustments. What hasn’t changed is the need to ensure our financial sustainability and renewal moving forward. I look forward to discussions with Acting President Barnhart in the coming weeks to set this path and will let you know more about next steps as soon as possible.


5 thoughts on “Moving forward

  1. Thank you Jonathan for your reply. I, as well as the senior leadership, are reflecting on how we could have done better over the 18 month TransformUS process. Many have spoken with me about the plan, the extensive involvement and consultation, and the massive amount of work of so many people starting from the task forces represented by faculty, students, and staff, to the meetings and consultations with our leaders and students who in turn have consulted with their teams and constituents on the plan. And then the development of the projects and initiatives within the plan were to proceed forward with stakeholder consultation and approval of the appropriate governing bodies, with Dean’s and unit leaders having the flexibility to consult and create excellent outcomes. Our thoughts were that through this long-term process that all of the voices of our community would have been heard, their creative thoughts emerging in the discussions and decisions, and the result being excellent decisions and outcomes for the university.

  2. What is the fate of the Action Plan and TransformUS projects? The various projects flowing from the TransformUS Action Plan had initial reporting dates of June 30, 2014. Under the present circumstances I would appreciate learning where “we” are in the process of addressing the issues presented in the various projects. Apparently “we” are catching our collective breaths while the university’s senior administration deals with pressing issues related to institutional leadership and the magnitude of the budget deficit. I welcome any and all feedback on the subject of TransformUS projects. Thank you.

    • On Friday, President Barnhart and I met to have our first discussion regarding operating budget adjustments, including TransformUS. President Barnhart has asked the leadership team to take a close look at gains made towards the projected deficit to ensure actions taken reflect our current situation and to minimize the negative impacts to the university. Given the situation these timelines will likely be extended to allow for assessment of the projects and possibly for greater consultation.

      • Thank you for this response, Greg. I appreciate the need of the university’s leadership team to reflect on the current situation.

  3. Thank you Greg for recognizing the accomplishments to date, and the warm condolences to Brett. Outside of this blog, the public commentary has broken the silence and exposed many of the obstacles that staff and faculty, and the public at large, have faced with the TransformUS process. It was unfortunate that the pent-up frustration that many faced turned into a public spectacle, however it was a strong indication of the shortcomings of the process. Many people still feel, evidenced by this very blog since its beginning, that the reporting process used to defend and assess programs was an exercise in self-defence, that their voice was silenced and suggestions ignored, and that the culture of self-preservation at the university remains. We all hope, for the sake of the University, that we stop looking at change as a transactional process, and start looking towards the collective imagination of the many brilliant minds to come up with imaginative solutions to overcome our present challenges. The simple mechanism of listening will determine which side of the balance sheet opportunity will fall.

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