Support Services Transformation Task Force report

From December 9, 2013 to January 31, 2014, I, along with Provost Brett Fairbairn and Vice-President Finance and Resources Greg Fowler, encourage you to provide your feedback and reactions to the task force recommendations – information we can use to better inform the decisions we make.

You have an opportunity to influence the future direction of the university. You are encouraged to actively participate in this vital stage in the process and ensure your voice is heard.

Throughout these eight weeks of listening, several opportunities will be provided to the campus community to share reactions to the reports. The campus community is being encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to share thoughts and concerns – either by leaving a comment below or by attending one of the town halls.

We ask that you please participate in a way that is respectful of each other, and of varying views and opinions in this phase of the process. All comments are monitored and we reserve the right to delete, remove and/or edit inappropriate comments.

Although we will not be able to reply to all individual feedback submitted, we are listening and reviewing all comments for consideration.

Your feedback, in conjunction with information provided in the task force reports and analysis such as research and financial modeling, will assist the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) to make evidence-informed decisions.

Ilene Busch-Vishniac, President

Support Services Transformation Task Force report

Please provide your feedback in the comment box below

90 thoughts on “Support Services Transformation Task Force report

  1. Televised courses are important for long distance learning. I am a older student who cannot relocate to a different campus. Without Native Studies being televised i would not have been allowed to take this class. i found this class very interesting and think it is important everyone should take. Please do not do away with the televised courses. very important for our education today!

  2. Regarding the Support Services Task Force recommendation that EMAP be placed in the 5th quintile:
    Universities around the world are increasingly turning to the web and other social media and to videos to engage with their stakeholders (donors, government funders, alumni, community and industrial partners, potential faculty and student recruits, etc.) and share their story with the world in the most compelling ways possible. We are very privileged at the U of S to have extremely talented and creative staff in EMAP for web services, video production, and new media. Over the past decade, I have relied on this highly professional group to help create products ranging from websites, to an on-line magazine, to animations, to videos–essential tools in helping to showcase the research achievements of our faculty and staff and in building the type of internet presence and profile that attracts media interest and draws top researchers and students from across Canada and even around the world. Some of the EMAP producers came from private companies and are among the best in the business — the quality of their services would be very difficult to replace. There is a huge advantage in having an in-house service where the media producers already understand the culture and goals of the institution and are dedicated to serve one client — the university. Besides the convenience of having an in-house provider, there are many efficiencies with this approach — for instance, footage shot for an instructional video at the Global Institute for Water Security can be readily re-purposed for a video in the research office on the signature areas of research. The extensive video work I am doing this year to build U of S research profile would be greatly handicapped without our first-class video production group (the staff could command much higher salaries in the marketplace). The existence of an in-house video production unit was a key factor in NSERC’s decision to partner with U of S on a video project on university-industry partnerships. Videos produced with EMAP assistance have been of such quality that they have been shown on the former SCN network and other public television networks across Canada. These videos helped enhance our reputation at national post-secondary events in Ottawa. It should be noted that there is no comparison between what EMAP produces and what might be produce if people were trained to use inexpensive “flip” video cameras; while these types of rough-cut videos definitely have their place for certain audiences, they do not replace the production value that is required for effectively working with many of our key audiences such as donors, investors, partners, etc.

    In sum, I think it would be a serious mistake to lose the considerable talent that has been amassed in EMAP and which has served the U of S incredibly well, providing value for money on the many projects I have worked on with them. If EMAP has made one mistake, it is that it has not sufficiently over the years touted it’s own horn, since it is the clients who generally get the
    credit when a new website is posted or a new video is produced. There might be new ways of aligning some of these services and new financial models, but the core services of EMAP are central to the university’s goal of building national and international profile and should not be eliminated.

    is posted or a video produced.

  3. Regarding the Support Services Task Force recommendation that EMAP be placed in the 5th quintile:
    Universities around the world are increasingly turning to the web and other social media and to videos to engage with their stakeholders (donors, government funders, alumni, community and industrial partners, potential faculty and student recruits, etc.) and share their story with the world in the most compelling ways possible. We are very privileged at the U of S to have extremely talented and creative staff in EMAP for web services, video production, and new media. Over the past decade, I have relied on this highly professional group to help create products ranging from websites, to an on-line magazine, to animations, to videos–essential tools in helping to showcase the research achievements of our faculty and staff and in building the type of internet presence and profile that attracts media interest and draws top researchers and students from across Canada and even around the world. Some of the EMAP producers came from private companies and are among the best in the business — the quality of their services would be very difficult to replace. There is a huge advantage in having an in-house service where the media producers already understand the culture and goals of the institution and are dedicated to serve one client — the university. Besides the convenience of having an in-house provider, there are many efficiencies with this approach — for instance, footage shot for an instructional video at the Global Institute for Water Security can be readily re-purposed for a video in the research office on the signature areas of research. The extensive video work I am doing this year to build U of S research profile would be greatly handicapped without our first-class video production group (the staff could command much higher salaries in the marketplace). The existence of an in-house video production unit was a key factor in NSERC’s decision to partner with U of S on a video project on university-industry partnerships. Videos produced with EMAP assistance have been of such quality that they have been shown on the former SCN network and other public television networks across Canada. These videos helped enhance our reputation at national post-secondary events in Ottawa. It should be noted that there is no comparison between what EMAP produces and what might be produce if people were trained to use inexpensive “flip” video cameras; while these types of rough-cut videos definitely have their place for certain audiences, they do not replace the production value that is required for effectively working with many of our key audiences such as donors, investors, partners, etc.

    In sum, I think it would be a serious mistake to lose the considerable talent that has been amassed in EMAP and which has served the U of S incredibly well, providing value for money on the many projects I have worked on with them. If EMAP has made one mistake, it is that it has not sufficiently over the years touted it’s own horn, since it is the clients who generally get the
    credit when a new website is posted or a new video is produced. There might be new ways of aligning some of these services and new financial models, but the core services of EMAP are central to the university’s goal of building national and international profile and should not be eliminated.
    is posted or a video produced.

  4. I am writing from the perspective of a faculty member who has had, in some cases, over 20 years of direct interaction with the units on this campus. Review of academic and support services is important and essential. I appreciate the hard work and long hours of the committees. Equally important is this current period of consultation, input and reflection in order to avoid making decisions which will result in a worse situation than now. So, how are we to fulfill our “Promise and Potential”? According to the IP3, “In the next decade, we envision our university to be one of Canada’s most distinguished, with a global impact in selected areas of academic pre-eminence.” If we are sincere in our commitment to reach this goal, then at least some of the key components must include strong graduate student recruitment and support, leading edge audio visual media incorporated into our teaching and classrooms, and an integrated academic pipeline from the larger community to the university. These are the programs and activities in the College of Graduate Studies and Research (CGSR), University Language Centre (ULC), eMAP and CCDE, respectively, all of which received a 5 ranking. This ranking may in part, be a casualty of being put into the wrong category—of being evaluated under “Support Services” rather than under “Academic Programs”. Case in point, the Prairie Horticulture Certificate (PHC) Program was given a ranking of 2 under Academic Programs while the same PHC program was ranked as a 5 under Support Services. Many of the activities offered by these units are academic in nature—providing useful information through courses which directly support the IP3 vision. Separating the quality of the program from the administrative structure is also important but under TransformUS, both aspects are combined into the single ranking. Employees in these units will be left feeling undervalued for the excellent work which they have provided to this university. As in everything, the details are critical. Where the “rubber hits the road” is in the specific implementation of the programs—who will deliver these programs and will dispersal to other units be effective? In my experience, excellence requires time—I have yet to find a substitute for the time it takes to do a great job. Program delivery can probably be best achieved by a group of experienced individuals, dedicated to a specific task and concentrated into one unit.
    Specific comments on the Importance to the University of Saskatchewan:
    • CGSR—Special Projects/International/Recruitment
    o Without this office and the assistance of Penny Skilnik—who paid meticulous attention to the details, the U of S would not be the first university in the world to sign a Dual Ph.D. with Japan in the field of science. Similarly, Norway now wants to do the same with our campus. These partnerships provide opportunities to bring high calibre students to the U of S and grow our research pre-eminence.
    o In the previous 3 years, graduate student enrolment was up by 14%, international graduate recruitment has resulted in a 41% increase—many with negotiated funding by CGSR from their countries, and a 44% increase in aboriginal graduate students. These efforts bring in net revenue to the U of S—but again it takes time by experienced people to make these accomplishments.
    o Undergraduate student marketing and graduate student recruitment are two separate tasks and cannot be lumped together if the U of S wants long term growth in its high calibre graduate student population.
    o Additionally, the GSR 981 course has been extremely helpful to my international students.
    • CGSR—Awards and Scholarships
    o If this office is dismantled, then who will ensure that the financial level and number of these awards and scholarships continue to be championed?
    o CGSR awards have enabled my graduate students to present their work at international conferences, which in turn, provides awareness of the U of S to the global community.
    o Graduate students always seem to be living on the poverty edge. A bit of funding goes a long way to alleviating stress and providing confidence through their successful application.
    • ULC
    o International partnerships require support of essential programs such as the University Language Centre. Recruitment and retention of international undergraduate and graduate students requires strong language support. The ULC is often the first and therefore, most important face of the university to these students. I am currently involved in a 3 week undergraduate program with Japan to introduce these students to our campus—where they would not have normally even considered Saskatoon. Increasing high calibre, english-proficient international graduate students might be achieved through returning students who now are comfortable with this campus and who have made connections with faculty.
    o This is a strong revenue-generating unit.
    o One of the first entry points into the University of Saskatchewan is through the ULC. There are many intangible student benefits and support services provided through its high quality classes.
    • eMAP
    o It is not a coincidence that all campuses have these support services. Integrating audio and visual technology into our courses enables instructors to be more effective in delivering the material to students.
    o In terms of helping the U of S campus meet its IP3 goals—eMAP will be one of those units which will be even more important in future, not less.
    • CCDE
    o Another first entry point of the general public to the University of Saskatchewan. CCDE’s high quality distance education programs provides linkage from high schools (teachers take PHC and incorporate that information into the classroom), communities and employers (e.g. City of Saskatoon, industries) to the U of S and brings positive recognition of the U of S on a provincial, national and international scale.
    o It directly supports horticulture faculty in extension activities. Hort Week, Master Gardener Program, PHC—-without CCDE, more faculty time will be taken away from academic and research efforts to meet the growing extension demand in horticulture.
    o Strong positive revenue generating unit which speaks to its success.

  5. My comments are in regard to the Prairie Horticulture Certificate, a small outreach program delivered through the CCDE. The two reports with the TransformUS process provide rather contrasting startements. In the SSTF report, we read…

    Certificate level programs (PHC) (076)
    Candidate for phase out, subject to further review (Quintile 5)
    See comments for 064. Few if any students now in PHC. Concept is good, but
    certificate programs would benefit from a stronger link to academic home.

    In direct contrast, in the APTF review the following comment is made of the PHC program, ranked in Quintile 2….

    Seem to use resources efficiently, generating revenue. Links with industry. No
    allocation from university; uses external resources. Strong ties to community,
    raises profile of university. Innovative collaboration model.

    So the PHC program is either strongly recommended to receive continued support and funding (APTF) or to be phased out with the CCDE (SSTF). This is the only program that I am currently directly involved in at the U of S, but there are are some obvious problems in the process. The SSTF review statement that there are ‘few if any’ students enrolled in the program is incorrect, and questions if any time was taken to verify comments made in this review.

    In my mind, this draws question if any of the Transform US review is correct if the two reports cannot agree in simple terms for a small program.

    I see similar conflicting conclusions within other programs (the Dept Soil Science is either invaluable or not, depending on the stage of the report), and comments from other posts indicate similar flaws.

    Transform US is poised to make very important decisions on the academic future of students. I am not convinced that the report is capable of providing this guidance.

  6. As a student who has taken classes coordinated by the CCDE, through both the Saskatoon Seniors for Continuous Learning (SSCL) and the Master Gardener programs, I am very concerned and upset to see these and other outreach programs such as those in language and fine arts, being considered for reduced funding. Both the programs I have attended (SSCL and Master Gardener) are self-sustaining financially, are extremely well managed and are absolute treasures, contributing significantly to the quality of life in Saskatoon for 30 years or more, for people over 55 and for gardeners (professional and amateur) of all ages. The Master Gardener program is well-known, respected and envied by gardeners across the prairies: I have met attendees who have traveled from Ontario, Manitoba and all over Saskatchewan just to attend some of the weekend or week-long programs offered here. The Seniors program offers excellent and stimulating classes that are not available elsewhere, taught by current or retired University professors in a huge variety of topics such as history, art, music, economics, political science, the environment, etc. It would be unfortunate to lose these types of programs and I believe this action would essentially cut off the university from the wider community of Saskatoon and the province, and say, “You are not important to us–you have no place here.”

  7. How is the university community to believe that the process of TransformUS will actually follow through with decisions in an unbiased manner when PCIP is to be heavily involved in this process supported by the IPA whose office scored in the lowest category 5 (candidate for phase out, subject to further review)? Seems to me the decision-making process is flawed as it is currently infiltrated with the very people who can only attempt to improve their category 5 status before final decisions are made.

    • It is true that prioritization means a comprehensive, simultaneous, independent assessment of everything supported by our operating budget, including all central leadership and support offices. Just as colleges may be asked to consider changes that affect their own members, the same can happen with administrative offices. Indeed, the task forces dealt with similar issues. It is implicit in the idea of university self-governance that we may be called upon to consider things that could affect our own jobs. When this happens, the university expects people strictly to declare and observe conflicts of interest (such as absenting themselves or abstaining from discussions that may affect their own employment, or that of family members), and we expect professionalism. We adhere to these practices at PCIP. We handle all discussions in such a way that people are not involved in matters that place them in conflict of interest. Discussions about the offices of PCIP members will be handled in other ways, and discussions at PCIP will be driven by PCIP members entirely. The members of PCIP are accountable together for our work.

      Given that self-governance entails conflicts of interest, it is fortunate that the collective wisdom of groups in the university allows us to make decisions even when parts of the university are conflicted.

      The question is also based on a significant inaccuracy. All of the substantive functions of the IPA unit (assessment, resource allocation, and planning) were placed by the support-services task force in Quintile 4 (reconfigure for efficiency/effectiveness), not Quintile 5 as implied above. The executive leadership office was placed in Quintile 5 (candidate for phase-out, subject to further review).

  8. Everyone seems really displeased with the new deficit proposal!
    Simple solution:
    Cut back hard on the grafted tree!
    Everything that is costing or earning over and above $80K/annually (especially highly paid administrative employees) should be cut back 25% for the proposed deficit.
    i.e. PRUNE the TREE (everything that pertains to the U of S); which essentially gets rid of the non-essential bud wood or grafts (abusive costs) and/or deadwood (redundancy)!
    It is amazing what new growth will come from hard winter pruning!
    Keep in mind that the students are the FRUIT …. the reason why the university exists!!!!! They should not be the ones penalized with higher tuition costs.
    Removing the amount of effluent*** pay from many administrative and possibly redundant positions would immensely assist to solve the budget concerns as well.
    I suspect the deficit proposal targets would be met and probably new vacancies in several administrative employment positions would appear!
    (***actually obscene amounts in the top U of S administration levels, considering what annual monies the majority of Saskatchewan residents live on)

    Old horticulturists proverb Ioannes 15:2

  9. Outreach programs such as CCDE offers, via SSCL (Saskatoon Seniors for Continued Learning), are a vital support of seniors in Saskatoon. Inspired by professors of the highest calibre, we have been fortunate, for the last 30 years, to be able to maintain active contact with the university many of us graduated from, not only to enhance our “golden” years but also to promote the university in many tangible ways and to other people of all ages via networks developed over years of work and family development.
    Maintaining contact with alumni and encouraging participation in continuing education by all members of Saskatoon’s senior population, regardless of level or source of education, results in maintaining an informed and healthy senior population who whole-heartedly have supported this university.
    The loss of these programs would significantly and negatively impact many seniors, our university community and our city.

  10. Much has been said about the considerable impact were CCDE, Senior’s programming, Language Centre, Gwenna Moss Teaching and Learning, the multiple student learning services through ULC to be lost from the UofS.

    What I would say, in short, is that I find it hard to imagine the UofS as a university in the absence of these initiatives. The notion of them as “support” is in itself questionable.

  11. As the comments received to date on the Support Services Transformation Task Force clearly show, the support services that have a strong academic service role were not well served by the Transform Us process. Most comments have focused on three units – CCDE, eMAP, and the ULC – all of which received a mix of quintile 4 and 5 placements. The office that oversees these units, the Office of the Vice Provost Teaching and Learning (VPTL), also received a quintile 5 placement. My comments are informed by the insights I gained about these offices in a one-year (2012) acting role as VPTL before my return to my teaching post as a faculty member in the department of soil science.

    1) Many of the programs assigned a quintile 4 or 5 placement are integral to a modern university, especially a member of the U15. Undergraduate Support, Curriculum Development and Instructional Design, Educational Development (all ULC), Equipment Services (eMAP), and Distance Learning, Off-Campus, and Certificates (CCDE) are all core components of the modern university, especially one that serves a widely dispersed (and diverse) population occupying a large land mass.

    Perhaps an example can illustrate this. A significant success story of the past five years is the delivery of our nursing program in five locations, several of which have a very high aboriginal population. This innovation was led by the College of Nursing, but with significant support from eMAP to address the complex technical questions surrounding delivery of the courses and with instructional development resources from the ULC. Moreover students are able to complete the required pre-Nursing program because CCDE (working with the colleges) developed courses to allow students in the five locations to complete all requirements prior to entering the nursing program. The role of the service units in supporting the main academic unit was critical to the success of this initiative.

    2) The U of S welcomes many international undergraduate and graduate students and wants to increase their numbers, yet two key programs that support these students were placed in quintiles 4 or 5. The U of S Language Center plays a vital role in recruiting international students and in ensuring they have basic language skills to survive their transition to the university. The Undergraduate Support unit of the ULC serves a very high number of international students, and is essential to their success once at the university. The loss or significant rollback of either unit would severely impact our ability to attract and retain international students.

    3) There is increasing use of web material, social media, video etc. in both the academic and administrative sides of the university. The Media Production and New Media units of eMAP offer an in-house solution to provision of these services, which (in the absence of these units) would have to be provided by non-university companies. While there is little doubt that these two groups could be better integrated into the university, the product they provide will become more important to the campus over time, and the proper balance between off-campus work and in-campus service needs to be examined (as the task force indicates).

    4) The Professional Development and Community Education unit of CCDE provides an important link between the community and the university, but other avenues of community engagement have been developed over the past decade which also have a call on core funding. Ideally the review proposed by the task force would better articulate the level of core funding appropriate for the community outreach offered by the CCDE program.

    5) All three Director’s Offices (i.e., eMAP, CCDE, and ULC) and the services (HR, IT, Marketing etc.) that support them were placed in quintile 5, along with the office of the VPTL itself. This placement was consistent with a general broadside clearing the decks of all administrative tiers between the Provost and front-line staff – the quintile 5 placement of the AVP Student Services was a particularly egregious example of this. Now that a permanent VPTL is in place (after a too-long period of acting ones) I am sure that efficiencies could be made across the units; the deletion of all offices would inexorably lead (to complete the nautical analogy) to a rudderless ship.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the task forces’ repeated statement that “the task force recommends a review of the structure, mandate and funding model of all units reporting to the Office of the Vice Provost Teaching and Learning with a view to reducing overlap, duplication and costs.” Perhaps the placement of all CCDE, ULC, and eMAP programs in quintile 4 and 5 was a way of adding emphasis to this recommendation, but it does a disservice to the centrality of many components of these units to the university and the great dedication of the staff who work in them.

  12. I am writing to express concern about the recommendation of the Support Services Transformation Task Force pertaining to the University’s support for ethical human research. Specifically, in the review of the Office of the Vice-President Research that focuses on “human research ethics compliance,” the recommendation was to retain that function with reduced resources. It is important to acknowledge that the primary function of the Research Ethics Office (REO) and the Research Ethics Boards (REBs) it supports, is to ensure the welfare and well-being of the many thousands of people who participate every year in research studies undertaken by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan. These studies include clinical drug trials, investigations of vulnerable populations such as children and those experiencing trauma, and deeply personal psychological investigations, where safeguarding the welfare of the participants is a clear priority.

    In its report, the task force recommends that “resources be directed maximally at support functions and as minimally as possible to policing and enforcement” and further, to “reduce administrative overhead for ethics compliance and focus on supporting researchers.” Notwithstanding the fact that “policing and enforcement” are poor descriptors of the central mission of the Research Ethics Office, the University must recognize that it has signed the Tri-Agency Agreement that gives it the responsibility to ensure that all research undertaken at the university is in compliance with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. Thus, by necessity, many of the function of the REO are to ensure that the research that takes place on campus meets the national standards agreed to by all institutions receiving Tri-Council funds.

    The task force recommended that the Research Ethics Office focus on “supporting researchers” and that “administrative overhead for compliance” be reduced. Ironically, for the reasons outlined above, reducing resources to the office will almost certainly come at the expense of supporting researchers. That is, the REO has a fiduciary and moral responsibility to ensure the well-being of participants as well as compliance with regulations, and therefore cannot afford to divert resources away from those obligations. Instead, reductions in resources are likely to affect the considerable efforts currently dedicated to support and educate researchers across the campus.

    As examples, considerable time has been invested to harmonize ethics review for multi-site projects within the province. This initiative removes a considerable barrier to multi-site research, namely the need to obtain a separate ethics approval for projects at each research site. Last year 67 studies received ethics review through the provincial harmonized process. Negotiations are currently underway to implement similar agreements with the University of Alberta and British Columbia. The staff at the office spend considerable time each week helping and advising researchers on the preparation of their applications, and are fully engaged in outreach activities. For instance, last year, seminars and tutorials were held for over 1300 students and faculty across campus. Reduced funding would certainly curtail the ability to maintain this level of service.

    In another initiative to increase the efficiency of the office and reduce review timelines, staff have now taken over “delegated review” of uncomplicated minimal risk research projects. In the past, these projects required review by REB members, which, in turn, meant a long turn-around in processing time. Now, up to 75% of Behavioural applications per year are reviewed by the office staff, reducing the average approval time for a Behavioural Ethics Application by 25%. Please note that this task has substantially increased the work load of the staff in the REO; the alternative, in a reduced funding scenario, is to revert to the previous model of review. This, too, is problematic, since the Research Ethics Boards are staffed by volunteers, most of whom are U of S faculty members; the ever-increasing workloads of the REBs have led to increasing difficulties in finding REB members.

    Moreover, as we aspire to maintain U15 status, with the concomitant emphasis on research productivity, pressure on the REO will increase as the years go on. With every passing year, the number of applications received by the REO increases; last year, over 800 new human research ethics applications were processed. Maintaining a reputation as a leading research institution means that the REO needs to be sufficiently well-equipped to be able to process these applications efficiently, but with the requisite diligence and care.

    In sum, the staff at the REO and the volunteer REB members perform the crucially important task of ensuring that the many thousands of research participants associated with the University of Saskatchewan are treated with the appropriate consideration, dignity, and respect. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance with the Tri-Agency Agreement, which lays out the terms and conditions for receipt of Tri-Agency funds. Finally, the office has undertaken substantial efforts to support and educate the research community on campus. With respect, I suggest that Administration consider the importance of maintaining or increasing resources to support these critical functions.


    Professor Valerie Thompson Chair,
    on behalf of the
    University Committee on Ethics in Human Research

  13. I’ve heard the ULC, writing center and math help is on the line… If this is true, it is outrageous. The Math help center is packed every single day, it is one of the best resources to A LOT of students on campus. The staff there is amazing and they help you and get you through math and stats. Without the ULC the University would be at a huge loss and many students disappointed. If anything the ULC needs to be expanded. Cutting it will do nothing but bring the U of S down. Also the lack of student involvement in this whole transform us matter is disappointing.

  14. For the following reasons SSCL should be supported and expanded not cut back.

    – SSCL contributes to the personal and social well being of seniors
    – SSCL is financially self supporting and does not draw on any outside funding.
    – Learning is a life long process and is especially important to seniors.
    – As seniors are becoming a greater percentage of the population so does the demand for SSCL increase.
    – Having taken one SSCL course every term for the past 2 years I can personally vouch for their quality and the dedication of the instructors .
    – I fully support SSCL and urge that you do the same.

    Gary Hooge

  15. Regarding SSCL program with CCDE
    For the past seven years I have participated in the in the Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning (SSCL) program. As a graduate of the U of S I was pleased to find that the Continued Education department offered the opportunity for Saskatoon seniors to enroll in information classes provided within the CCDE. I have found the classes to be informative and stimulating. Besides being exposed to excellent topics that are often thought provoking I also enjoy the class atmosphere to continue learning in my retired years. It is my understanding that the venue for these classes is now in question as the university looks at ways to address their $46 million shortfall. I believe the registration fee we pay for the courses has been set at a level to cover most of the costs of providing the instruction. I understand that there are in excess of 400 seniors partaking of these courses. I would urge your committee to look closely as to what savings would be achieved by eliminating these courses and to consider the value that Saskatoon seniors gain from having the programs available.

  16. Dear Madame/Sir:

    As residents of Saskatoon since 1984, my husband Siegfried and I have always admired the University of Saskatoon Campus. It has been a “must see” destination when hosting family or friends from afar.

    Neither one of us had the opportunity to attend university due to economic reasons. When I retired, after working for 46 years, we jumped at the opportunity to attend classes offered by SSCL. There are always topics of interest to keep our brains challenged.

    We are not the type of people who like to watch endless TV reality shows. Based on the size of the classes and their attendance records, we are not alone. The interest and subsequently the need for these classes exists.

    According to the President of SSCL – Robert Zens – the SSCL courses are self-sustaining and it subsidizes the CCED.
    If there is no cost to the University for this program, why would there be any thought of eliminating it?

    Granted, the participants are not from the up and coming generation. No, the classes consist of individuals who have already contributed all their lives through their work, taxes, families to make this city what is is today.

    But they are not ready to just disappear. They want and need to keep learning, but in a social environment, not cut off from other like-minded people. They truly want to be there.

    Can that be said about all the younger students attending classes?

    We are just encountering the early wave of retiring baby boomers. There will be many more joining the ranks of the retired. This program has great potential for expansion.

    Considering the passion of the individuals who attend these classes, together with the fact that it does not financially impede on University funds, we hope that this program will remain a vital part of the University.


    Elfriede Dueck
    247 Crean Crescent
    Saskatoon SK S7J 3W9

  17. We are writing in support of the Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning (SSCL) classes that are organized through the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education (CCDE). SSCL has been an important program in our community for over 30 years, promoting and providing for the participation of seniors in academic studies. Regardless of previous education, seniors enthusiastically enjoy both the intellectual stimulation and the social contact. The self-worth of seniors is enhanced through this collegiality of minds and interests.
    A university that welcomes and encompasses students of all ages is enriched by this diversity that is an honest reflection of our society today. As a city we are aspiring to be age friendly, and through the SSCL, the university is playing such a role now and, we fervently hope, into the future.
    SSCL is a self-sustaining organization within CCDE. Through the ongoing support of CCDE personnel, this program will be able to continue its mandate of offering seniors a venue for intellectual activity.

    • SSCL classes are very important for active seniors. They contribute to broadened horizons. Learning new information improves mental health.

  18. I am saddened to see that the College of Medicine’s Division of Social Accountability is in jeopardy. This division administers a number of important initiatives, including Making the Links, a Certificate in Global Health program that combines academic courses with service-learning experiences in medically under-served communities in Saskatchewan and abroad. Through this program, I have been able to experience medicine in a variety of settings to which students are rarely exposed—from Saskatoon’s core neighborhood to the remote community of Buffalo River Dene Nation, to Hanoi, Vietnam.

    Making the Links is one of the only programs of its kind, and has become a model for medical schools across the country. Besides serving as an innovative training program for Saskatchewan medical students, Making the Links also connects the UofS to communities that are often isolated from the academic and medical establishment. These are relationships that have taken years to build, and they can only be maintained through the continued support of our University.

    As a student who went through Making the Links, and has worked many times with the Division of Social Accountability, I cannot imagine a College of Medicine without it. Changes are necessary at the College of Medicine, just as they are necessary across the UofS, but it would be a great loss to eliminate the very things that make this College uniquely strong. I hope for a sustainable solution. Thank you.

    Rachel Peters
    Former Co-chair: Aboriginal, Rural and Remote Health Group
    Making the Links student
    College of Medicine

  19. The Planning and Priorities Committee of Council asked Council committees to comment on the impact of TransformUS recommendations on their mandates. Responses are posted on the committee websites:
    Academic Programs Committee:
    International Activities Committee:
    Nominations Committee:
    Teaching, Learning and Academic Resources Committee:

  20. I was sad to see many of the Quintile 5 departments placed as such, however, one that I found especially disappointing was the department of Religion & Culture. I believe that an integral part of any university experience is that of broadening one’s horizons through learning about the world. What better way to incorporate this in to a university, and offer this opportunity to its students, than by having a department of Religion & Culture? I will always value the knowledge that I gained about not only the diversity of our world, but also about myself, from taking classes in this department. If the department of Religion & Culture is cut from this university it will be a great loss.
    Thank you for reading, and please consider.

  21. The loss of SSCL (Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning), among other programs, would not only diminish the deserved respect of the town for the gown, but be a hurtful loss to those seniors who value continuing education.
    The people who engage with SSCL, horticulture extension, the community arts program, to name a few, are active in Saskatoon and the province. Do not betray our respect. We are more than just ciphers.
    If it is imporant, as I think it is, for the University to maintain a healthy interdependence between town and gown; these forms of extension and outreach, of which SSCL is a part, would be folly to extinguish. The cost of these programs is but a pittance to the budgetary savings to be found.
    These programs are connected to a legacy developed by Harold Baker and others, who saw a value in the University being involved in a very visible way with the educational and social life of this province. The price of discarding that history and legacy may be greater than the savings found.

    • am deeply concerned by news that the continuation of Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning (SSCL) program is threatened by fiscal cuts. This seems particularly ill-advised and short sighted especially considering that the program is largely self-funded and benefits so many people. It is my understanding that the university’s contribution consists only of the provision of a room in the Arts Building for four hours a day over a period of eight weeks in three semesters, plus the occasional services of one employee of the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education who tracks down faculty to teach the classes.

      Retired people are the beneficiaries of SSCL’s outstanding program. As you know, we are a mushrooming demographic, and are not just social detritus who have outlived our usefulness. Having attended SSCL classes for many years, I suspect the seniors who attend represent the city’s intelligentsia on the “town” side of the Town and Gown equation. They seem to be mostly retired professionals, supplemented by some grateful individuals who never had the luxury of attending university in their working lives. Their need for continuing intellectual stimulation should not be discounted.

      To remain vibrant, a community needs the cultural enrichment provided by libraries, concerts, plays, intelligent cinematic productions, public lectures, and also by educational programs such as SSCL has been providing. If you take away this priceless source of intellectual stimulation that enriches our lives, we seniors will lose a major incentive for remaining in this cold land when we could be living in comfort elsewhere. If our huge and growing cohort leaves the city, then the university and the community will lose our economic contributions in the form of taxes and consumers of goods and services, and our social and cultural contributions.

      In our “golden years”, freed from the demands of earning a living and raising a family, seniors are an invaluable resource – contributing our time and energies to volunteer work in much-needed organizations. We also include journalists, historians and authors like myself who continue to chronicle the city’s and province’s heritage and thus contribute to its preservation. In many ways we are the collective memory of the city and the province.

      I urge you to ponder carefully before allowing this priceless SSCL program to be cut or minimized.

      Submitted by
      Ruth W. Millar
      Author, Saskatchewan Heroes & Rogues (Coteau Books, 2004)
      Co-author, Saskatoon: A History in Photographs (Coteau Books, 2006)
      Author, Turning Back the Pages (Coteau Books, 2013)

  22. I am writing in regards to the Transform US recommendations for the full-time ESL program at the U of S Language Centre.

    The task force put this program in the 4th quintile, which was a very shocking evaluation in my opinion. I have been an instructor in this program for nearly 15 years, and have the following thoughts regarding its crucial importance to the overall objectives of the U of S:

    Firstly, we are a gateway to the university for a large number of international students. We help them adjust to academic and community life here in Canada, and prepare them for a successful transition to the U of S. These students bring a large inflow of capital to U of S coffers, as they typically pay 2.5 times the tuition of local students. Also, our students do not have the English skills required for university studies when they arrive (if they did, they would enter via a standardized test score such as TOEFL), so without our ESL program, these students would not bring their four years of tuition payments to the U of S; they would take their money elsewhere.

    Furthermore, our students have an impressively-high success rate when they finally do enter U of S courses after successful completion of our program. An analysis of the first year university marks of graduates
    from our ESL program revealed
    that their overall average was in fact a few percentage points above the overall average of first-year U of S students. To me, this supports the fact that our program is highly effective at attracting, acclimatizing, and preparing these international students for a successful career at the U of S.

    Some suggestions were made
    by the task force that perhaps this job could be done more effectively if our Language Centre was brought under the umbrella of one of the colleges. I find this extremely unlikely. For starters, the USLC is and has long been a profitable cost-recovery program. Our management and recruiting/marketing team have worked tirelessly and skillfully to create a reputation that can attract potential international students to our program. This has involved continuous efforts at networking and relationship building with foreign agents, as well as ongoing curricular development and comparisons amongst our peer university programs across the country. This is all to ensure that our programming is respected for its reliability and validity, to confirm that we ARE in fact teaching students what they need to know, and that we have exit standards that maintain the integrity of our program. In this market, where international students have hundreds of options around the world for their educational dollars, yuan, yen, won, pesos, and rials, a school’s reputation is key. Any major switch to the management of our program could create uncertainty among the foreign agents and students, which could deal the U of S foreign recruiting a major blow. This is a fickle market with many other options ready to pick up these clients if we drop the ball.

    In short, I believe that the USLC is doing great work for the university, and the Transform US program would be unwise to undermine its current operations. In fact, I think that it’s the right time for the U of S to make the USLC an even greater partner in its operations; the recent success of our USLC / U of S Bridging program is an indicator of how this could be done.

    I appreciate the opportunty to provide feedback on this issue.


    John Lenz

  23. It has been a rewarding experience to be involved in providing Distance Education classes for the past thirty years. Initially I traveled to many locations throughout the province to provide face-to-face off-campus classes, and presently, besides teaching on campus, I am still involved in Distance Education by way of correspondence courses (where students are located not only in Canada but also internationally) and televised classes offered by eMap.

    I consider it to be an honour to be able to reach out to those students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to pursue a university degree due to family commitments, employment, or financial reasons, etc…

    Many of the students were the first in their family to receive a university degree through Distance Education and thus set a good example by inspiring and empowering others to pursue their dreams of obtaining a university education also. They become role models for their family, friends, and their communities.

    Downsizing Distance Learning would destroy many people’s aspirations of pursuing their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. If we are sincerely concerned about the future welfare of this province and its people, we must assure that these programs continue to thrive rather than be threatened.

    We need to get our priorities straight. Nourishing the human spirit and mind should prevail over saving some money by downsizing Distance Education…a university program that is doing so much for so many people by reaching out and enhancing their lives.

    It is somewhat ironic that the university can afford to build many beautiful buildings on campus as places of higher learning…but yet cannot afford to fund the learning component which should be the primary objective.

  24. I am one of many seniors who have benefitted from the Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning classes that are organized by the CCDE. The thought that this program may be terminated by the University is deeply troubling. SSCL’s fee structure covers a fair amount of the cost of the program so we are contributing as much as we can. What we need is the on-going support of a staff person at the University who knows the academic community and can be counted on to organize worthwhile lectures and help with administration of the classes. Without this link the program would not be feasible. Its value is hard to measure but our large, enthusiastic enrollment attests to its significance for many seniors, some of whom were not able to go to university in their youth. Having seniors on campus effectively rounds out the reality of life. Please don’t deny us the delight of learning even though we are not in the degree-seeking stream of students.

  25. I have been working with the New Media team at eMAP to develop interactive online learning tools in the neurological sciences. The expertise and creativity of the team has been integral to the development and implementation of our project. They are professional, efficient and innovative. They understood our needs immediately and have been resourceful and creative as we progress into the production stage of the project. The New Media team is an absolutely necessary resource on our campus as we expand our use of multimedia to build innovative curricula and make learning more accessible to all.

  26. I have a perspective on eMAP that reaches back 10+ years to my initial employment with the UofS. I was frequently hired on contract to produce one-off websites for various departments. As freelance designer I worked with many divisions across campus and frequently had contact with the then-Division of Media and Technology for asset and content creation.
    Website creation was arguably not a core function of DMT in the early 2000s, and many departments chose to fend for themselves in deciding both the appearance and technology underpinning their websites, if they did not have in-house IT experts. While this benefitted my paycheque, I could see the disparity was less than ideal. Fairly often I was paid to “fix” websites created by other freelancers and small businesses, to low standards of accessibility and least-common-denominator design methods intended to reduce complaints. Now, eMAP is a unifying force that establishes baselines and standards across all campus units, in partnership with campus ITS.

    I feel it is better for the University that freelance technology and design services are no longer in such demand. It may be the opinion of committees that outsourcing media and technology needs to specialised vendors results in a dollar-cost savings, but I can speak from experience that it also reduces efficiency, uniformity to standards and brands, and results in increased internal costs from repeated negotiations and “do overs”. Not to forget the inherent security risks of badly designed web technologies that can impact the entire campus network like dominos. The lowest bidder may ignore the fine print, and they risk nothing when something breaks 6 months after their contract ends.

    eMAP provides best in class services with dedicated professionals who understand the campus environment and its demands. All of the campus colleagues I know are routinely pleased by the results of eMAP for their multimedia needs, and the costs are inarguably competitive with any possible choice of external vendor. Their value to the campus community can only grow, just as it has from a decade ago.

  27. I would like to echo the comments of Lisa Krol, Joan Dunn, Shannon Storey, Kim Fontaine and Ruth Epstein who have commented about CERTESL and the Language Centre’s full-time ESL program. Both CCDE programs are success stories at the University of Saskatchewan, and offer very high-quality academic programs.
    With respect to CERTESL, the demographic trends in the province mean that the courses offered have never been more needed. The fact that there is course content specifically addressing the English language/dialect education needs of teachers of First Nations and Metis learners makes this program unique in Canada. Its distributed learning format makes CERTESL courses accessible across Canada and around the world.
    The Language Centre’s full-time ESL program is efficiently and effectively run as a result of experienced and specialized administrative, instructional and other program staff. The international students served by this program have diverse and complex needs with respect not only to their academic English language learning, but also related to accommodation, student support services, and adjustment to Canadian, local, and university culture. The Language Centre staff work closely together to create the best possible learning environment for students. This holistic and collegial approach provides for any student concerns that arise to be handled in a timely and effective manner, through consultation with all involved. At a time when it is becoming ever more apparent how important it is for international students’ needs to be addressed by the university, the Language Centre’s model is one that others might emulate.

    Shirley M. Fredeen, PhD
    U of S Language Centre

  28. tanisi/Hello,

    I am writing regarding the positioning of the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness in the TransformUS results. Having recently left the GMCTE for a position of Assistant Professor and Chair in Aboriginal Education in the College of Education, I can personally attest to the high quality of the staff, leadership, and programs that constitute our centre for teaching and learning on campus.

    When the TransformUS results were released I was shocked to read that a centre so pivotal to the success of our institution could be ranked so lowly. The support services and programming offered to faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates (through the University Learning Centre) are vital, and would suffer immensely should these responsibilities be doled out to individual Colleges, Departments, or Units, not to mention the fiscal inefficiencies this would entail.

    In addition to the quality work being done in curriculum innovation and instructional design across campus, the GMCTE has been a leader in supporting the University’s commitment to Aboriginal Engagement as outlined in IP3, particularly through its work on the Indigenous Voices staff and faculty development program. This program is the only one of its kind in the country, and fulfills an important need for a campus that is aiming to drastically increase its enrollment of Aboriginal students in the coming years.

    I would also like to suggest that any issues with the GMCTE arise from a lack of awareness and motivation among faculty to engage in the services on offer, rather than in the programs or work done in the Centre. With more encouragement (e.g., from senior admin, PD in assignment to duties, etc.) and awareness on campus, the centre would be able to continue its fine work, with an even greater impact on the effectiveness of teaching and learning at the U of S.


    Jeff Baker

    Assistant Professor & Chair in Aboriginal Education
    Department of Educational Administration
    College of Education

  29. I have read the CERTESL Goals. Most of these goals are addressed in TESL 34. It would be very sad if these programs were dropped. I feel that now, more than ever before, that these classes are needed. Before now, one took TESL programs so that they could teach in other countries. Now our schools are filled with multicultural students and their needs must be met here at all levels of education. Without the knowledge delivered by the CERTESL programs these needs cannot be met appropriately and efficiently.
    Joan Dunn

  30. In the TransformUs Support Services report, it was stated that eMAP’s (Media Production) mandate was unclear. Our mandate has always been to support teaching, learning and discovery. One example is our ongoing collaboration with faculty to produce quality video, simulations and animations to complement course content. 3rd year Dentistry student Ian Chang comments on the benefit of these learning materials:

  31. It’s unfortunate to see the College of Medicine (COM) under such scrutiny, especially programs that are required for accreditation. Student Advising has been given a quintile 5, yet is a requirement for accreditation. I think it’s important the university revises this area and understands the seriousness of rating it so low. As well, the Division of Social Accountability has been ranked low. The Division is one of the unique aspects of our medical school compared to others. The Making the Links program itself is known across Canada to be a great program. Revision of this ranking also needs to occur. I hope the university will continue to support the COM through the changes it will experience in the coming years.

  32. I am a former U of S faculty member who left what is currently CCDE (formerly Extension Division) as part of the Integrated Plan 6 years ago. Prior to my departure, I served as both Academic Coordinator and content expert of the CERTESL program since its inception. This program is and has never been a “support program” and should not be judged by support program criteria. The program content is academically stringent and recognized and respected across the country by the professional language teaching community. In addition to my continued teaching role in CERTESL I am employed as a consultant with Federal and Provincial governments to conduct English language assessments for newcomers to Saskatchewan. With the flood of immigrant families to this province, there is a tremendous need for people with the specific academic knowledge and skill provided in the CERTESL program. A large number of language program coordinators, language assessors, and English language instructors of children and adults in Saskatchewan hold CERTESL qualifications. As a distance-delivered program, CERTESL has qualified teachers locally, across the province and across the country to serve the immigrant population that is so important for Canada’s prosperity and growth. Those teaching Aboriginal students have also taken the program and use the content to support the development of both Indigenous languages and English in schools. In addition, the CERTESL program has reached teachers around the word who see the University of Saskatchewan as their university. There is much value for an institution to have an international reputation and I believe that CERTESL has done as much for this university’s excellent reputation as any academic program offered at this institution. I sincerely hope and trust that those examining CERTESL as part of TransformUS will take the positive value of this program into consideration and continue to offer it within the university.

  33. I would like to add to the submissions posted here expressing support for the work done by eMAP. I have had a very positive and successful experience working with eMAP for close to 10 years, at the CLS and now at the Fedoruk Centre.

    I have worked extensively with the Media Production group, working with them to create videos that aim to make technical and complex topics clear and accessible to a number of audiences. The production team is first rate and is among the best I have worked with (and I include production teams from television networks in this assessment). Their products are consistently polished and professional. I would be hard pressed to find a team with the same level of technical competency, creativity and familiarity with the University community among the private production companies that operate in the city.

    The New Media section has supported the development and maintenance of the websites of both institutions. Their work is creative, their responses are always prompt and customer-centric.

    -Matthew Dalzell

  34. eMAP services have been a revelation to me, especially the work that we have done over the years with their Media Production unit. My involvement with them has been via two previously accomplished projects in Engineering and an on-going discussion with them on introducing new media to course curriculum for enhancing student education and training experience at the Global Institute for Water Security.

    Their ability to transform and merge collage of ideas into videos that shows strong and consistent message to our stakeholders has been incredible. I have not thought of the potential and strength these media messages has until I meet with the eMAP crew. They have been patient in listening to our ideas, thorough in their research, and brilliant in transforming them into media content that showcases strengths of academic and research units. I have found it to be an effective way to reach audiences and disseminate information in a way that provides users with an alternate and direct experience to information or story. This is increasingly the case within educational institutions. Personally, I believe that eMAP services are essential and directly in line with the University of Saskatchewan’s priorities. The media we have produced so far in collaborations with eMAP have supported learning objectives, promoted the university to internal and external stakeholders. Amazingly, the personnel at eMAP does understand University of Saskatchewan’s priorities and practices.

  35. In 2012 I went to the Media Production division of eMAP with an idea for a video to use in teaching and outreach which would highlight some of my research in organic weed control. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I really didn’t know anything about this division or its capabilities. These apprehensions were relieved when I met the staff at eMAP. I was truly astounded at this gem of a division (Media Production) that exists right here at the U of S. The personnel were all superb collaborators and had a level of technical expertise that was outstanding. In particular I found the positive attitude to be a breath of fresh air. Because of eMAP my crazy idea for a video featuring a mechanical weeder became a dynamic, educational and entertaining device that communicates my research results. Overall, the process was great and the finished product exceeded my expectations. Since making this video I have shown it in several classes and conferences where the response has been overwhelming. Showing the video during a class or presentation literally “steals the show” and I have received numerous comments on it. The video has also posted on several websites where thousands have now seen it. Without the video production unit of eMAP this would not have happened. The impact of using this type of communication for research has not gone unnoticed. Funders who have seen the video have been equally impressed – so impressed that I have been able to successfully write in the costs of producing future videos into successfully funded research grant applications. Hopefully I will still have the chance to work with the great staff at eMAP to facilitate this.

  36. I partook in my first two televised classes at the University of Saskatchewan in the winter session of 2013-2014. I had had a resistance to receiving education via a multimedia format such as this for many years–since my graduation from high school in 1987–when televised courses represented the avante garde in progressive education techniques. Happily I was wrong about my ability to learn via a distance televised course and my ability to discourse with a professor during a live class broadcast. The teaching staff was always available during the week, before, and after the broadcast. During the broadcast the students were invited to comment on the material and ask questions using a computer format (the university’s “Blackboard,” or a phone.
    Where else, except for televised courses, could a rhizome of extensive learning sprout in such varied places throughout our province?
    The cost effective measures of this type of education, and this medium’s ability to connect with people in the far reaches of the province can not be denied. Effectively distributing curriculum material to learner’s in the far north to the learner’s in satellite campuses in the south, televised learning is in direct accordance with cost saving principles. The televised medium itself stream lines the efficiency with which it can reach large numbers of people who then can access higher learning without the university providing its own infrastructure–unless it is in partnership with another organization (i.e., the regional colleges; SIAST).
    Televised distance education represents the total embodiment of the synergistic principles of efficiency, cost effectiveness, and cost sharing. If it is removed from the curriculum of learning then one more stepping stone has been removed from the path to higher learning. Access to education is the key to Saskatchewan’s growth and prosperity.

  37. There are two support service areas that received low rankings in the Transform US reports, but that I feel have been particularly critical in assisting me in both my teaching and research endeavours. eMAP was absolutely outstanding in helping me create a video teaching case that not only gave me a great teaching resource and engaging tool to use in the classroom, it also helped to generate additional research and community-engaged partnerships. I have also named eMAP in a recent SSHRC application with regard to helping with some of my proposed knowledge dissemination activities. I would be very disappointed to see eMAP phased out, as I have been thrilled with the service they have provided and continue to provide. Another area that I was concerned about was the fact that the Edwards School of Business technology group received a low ranking largely due to its decentralized structure from ICT. In my opinion, they are critical for student and faculty support, and instead of centralizing the services they provide, I believe that every college should have access to the kind of decentralized support that Edwards has access to in this regard. Nothing is more frustrating then when technology is not working. In my opinion, there needs to be a network support specialist housed in every college in the university.

  38. I am a third year nursing student who was able to complete my first year pre requisites all through distance. I started my first year in Ile-a-la-crosse on my maternity leave from work. Allowing these distance classes was the best way and only affordable way for me at the time to complete my education. I moved to Prince Albert for my second year where we continued to receive three of our third year classes via teleconference. It allowed me to have family support through education as I was able to remain closer. When I first found out about the teleconference classes I viewed them as a way of moving forward and making education more accessible. I belief that removing this option from the U of S is a step backward, not forward.

  39. I am a student attending nursing classes off of the main UofS campus. This term we have 2/3 televised classes from the main campus. Both of these classes are anatomically based, therefore their importance relates directly to the root of our future practice. Personally I highly appreciate the way these classes are offered. They are essential for the university to keep campuses such as ours running elsewhere than the main campus. For many students, taking a day away from school (for any given minor or major extenuating circumstance) can be of high concern. Asking a peer for notes can be risky with so many different learning styles etc. This is not to encourage missing class; but, consider the event of flu season for an example. Televised/recorded classes facilitate and increase success for both the class as a whole and each individual. Beings that we are in Saskatchewan with ever-changing weather, flu season is of high priority as it can highly effect the success of the student while ill, and can spread like wildfire across campus. In this situation, televised classes allow these ill students to protect their peers from the illness; allow themselves the rest they need; and be able to keep up with the classes in progress.

  40. I wish to add my support for the CCDE and EMAP. Televised courses are a very important service. For myself I took several evening televised classes because I was working during the day. These classes are equally important for out of town students for practical reasons as well.

  41. I have benefited from the televised courses. I live in North Battleford and have been taking the televised classes at North West Regional College. I have not had to commute to Saskatoon to attend many classes. It has kept me close to my family. The smaller class sizes have also allowed me to feel like a part of a community. I support the eMAP and CCDE.

  42. eMAP and CCDE have my support 100%. Televised classes are extremely important for me because most of my classes are televised. I’m a student from northern Saskatchewan and all my classes are through Northlands college which saves me a lot of money from moving and disturbing my children’s comfort zone. I’m here in my home community and familiar with the whole community so child care is not a problem or issue, whereas if I moved to the city I would not know anyone and struggle trying to find decent affordable housing, and reliable daycare which is my biggest concern. I love televised classes and I’m also extremely thankful that I can do all my classes here at home and not have to worry about 1200 dollars in rent money on top of everything else which would leave me broke and hungry especially when I have young children to look after. They cannot get rid of televised classes.

  43. I am expressing my support of eMAP and CCDE. I have been working as a TA for a televised class every regular session for several years now, and I know CCDE and eMAP are valuable not just to those who work within them, but also to the people they serve. As evident from all the comments and concerns already expressed here, eMAP and CCDE serve a very wide range of departments, students, and staff both on and off campus, carrying out diverse projects that take advantage of technology to make academic learning, research, and communication more effective. I believe this is a central component to the efficiency and effectiveness of this campus as a whole in order to measure up to the best academic standards.

    From my own experience as a TA, I know that the services CCDE and eMAP provide to off campus students is especially important. By providing televised classes in particular, students who do not have the opportunity or resources to attend university physically at the U of S campus still can. This is critical to help people achieve their goals academically who otherwise face barriers, especially people who live in rural areas, Aboriginal people, those who have to work outside of Saskatoon while going to school, people who have families to care for and cannot relocate to Saskatoon, and people who do not have the financial resources to attend the Saskatoon campus. If this university is really concerned about opening their doors to people who face barriers to education and addressing their needs, then the U of S should not deprive these people by taking away their ability to take U of S classes (that are as close to the on-campus experience as can be) throughout the province. Aside from these important issues, why would the U of S want to turn away more potential students?

    Thank you.

  44. I am writing to express my support for the eMap services. eMap is the production facility on campus which provides the televised courses. I am currently enrolled in full time classes and am taking the majority of them as televised classes. When deciding to go back to university I was excited when I found out I could take all of the pre-nursing classes through the Regional College in my hometown. In all honesty, the cost of living in Saskatoon is ridiculous and any way I can save money is a great thing. I specifically moved away from Saskatoon in order to take the televised classes and be able to save money on my cost of living for my first year.

    I must also add, that of the televised classes I took, the ones in Melfort were full (around 30 students). The other classes I took in Nipawin can only accommodate around 5 students, and those classes too had close to that number.

    Without this resource there are a lot of people who would not be able to attend university classes and I am so grateful that I am able to take advantage of this. It would be a terrible decision to get rid of them. Not only would the university be loosing students because of not having televised classes, but what’s stopping people from now applying to out of province university’s. If they are going to have the same cost of living elsewhere and can find a university with a reputation in the course they want, they have no reason to choose the U of S.

    I do not support getting rid of televised classes. They are the only reason I am in university right now.

  45. I am puzzled by the section of the report of the Support Services Transformation Task Force that deals with the University’s ethical support for animal research. Specifically, in the section on the Office of the Vice-President Research, the report focuses on “animal research ethics compliance,” recommends retention with reduced resourcing, and justifies this by the statement, “Ensure that resources are directed maximally at support functions and as minimally as possible to policing and enforcement. “ I am concerned by the reference to “policing and enforcement. “ The Task Force must recognize that the welfare of the animals we are entrusted with in our research cannot be compromised, and that the University not only must continue to support the units that provide care to the animals, but also must be seen to continue to support that care. I suggest that the phrase “policing and enforcement” is an inadequate way to describe the collaborative work the Research Ethics Office (REO) and Animal Research Ethics Board undertake with researchers to ensure animal teaching and research reflect best practice and generate high quality teaching and research outcomes. It is indeed the case that the animal health technicians, who are largely based in the colleges, monitor the care and treatment of the animals. I suppose that their activities fit under the rubric of “policing and enforcement.” However, the University would contravene the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) if we were to diminish or abandon monitoring of our research animals, and, if seen as noncompliance with CCAC’s guidelines, this could potentially lead to freezing of all Tri-Council grants in the University. So, it seems to me, we have no choice but to engage in a reasonable level of “policing and enforcement” with regard to animal research, in the collaborative manner described above. Furthermore, through the REO, the VPR’s Office is charged with “policing and enforcement” responsibilities and activity, related to the process of post-approval review by the University Veterinarian, and perhaps the Task Force’s analysis is aimed at this process. Again, however, post-approval review is mandated by the CCAC, and if the University wishes to continue to hold a Certificate of Good Animal Practice, a requirement of both Tri-Council funding and public confidence in the animal work we do, it does not have any choice in the matter.

    Michael Corcoran
    Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
    Chair, Animal Research Ethics Board

  46. EMAP has always provided efficient and specialized service that would be hard to obtain off-campus. I often utilize their experienced production team to set-up, record, and produce videos for circulation. The convenience of having “in-house” assistance for specialized projects has been beneficial time and time again. Turnaround on jobs is always reasonable and questions are answered promptly and correctly. It seems this level of service to the campus community would disappear if media and technology was outsourced.

  47. I am a second year student in the College of Medicine and the current Sr. Global Health Liaison in Medical Student’s Society. I have worked extensively with the Division of Social Accountability over the past two years and feel that their role in our College, and province is indispensable. I attend conferences with other medical students from schools across Canada and have found that our Global Health initiatives like Making the Links and the Global Health Conference are the envy of many other schools. These are the kinds of programs that separate our school from other programs across Canada and is a great recruitment tool for students interested in Global Health.
    With the current reputation of our medical school in the media, we should be working to play on our strengths, not cut the divisions that make our school stand out. The strong emphasis that our college places on social accountability would not be possible without the hard work of well renowned faculty like Dr. Ryan Meili and the other members of the Division of Social Accountability. On behalf of the Student’s Medical Society of Saskatchewan, I urge you to please reconsider phasing out this division.
    Caitlin Jantzen, B.Sc.
    Global Health Liaison, SMSS
    Phase B, MD Undergraduate Program
    University of Saskatchewan

  48. I am writing this message to support the valuable contributions from eMAP to teaching and learning from my perspective. I had the opportunity to work with eMAP staff this past year (2013) regarding the development of a multi-media tool that I could use with students in the classroom. I asked for a CD which would focus on my research related to history of nursing during WWII and the end product was amazing! I am impressed with the outcome and the work exceeded my expectations; I have shown the CD to the nursing students and they are engaged in the presentation from start to finish. I work at the College of Nursing, Regina Campus and the staff were willing and eager to work with me by email, phone, and Skype to continually discuss the progress of CD. Thank you.

  49. I am writing to express our support for EMAP.
    Their New Media division in particular has been responsible for maintaining our website for over a decade and we have found them to be creative, responsive, and customer centric. In addition, their knowledge and understanding of the nuances of campus culture, as well as academic and industry priorities make them an asset for us. I hope their services are available to us for many years to come.
    Sandra Ribeiro
    Canadian Light Source Inc.

  50. I am writing to express my support for eMAP. I’ve been working with eMAP for many years on behalf of The Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture; the Canadian Rural Health Research Society and the Agricultural Health and Safety Network which use their services. These services include website development for our Centre and our annual national conferences and our international symposia. The Network relies on their video production expertise to deliver health and safety messages to Saskatchewan farmers. I think eMAP has always been delivering the best and the most up-to-date services to its stakeholders. Its existence is paramount not only to our success but also to the University of Saskatchewan.

  51. Chris’s blog on January 9 regarding Gwenna Moss’s low ranking being tied to perceptions is a valid point. As with Gwenna Moss, there is a perception that Media Access and Production (eMAP) provides little value to the University campus. Every time an instructor or student enters a media rich classroom, eMAP has been a part of the creation of that classroom. eMAP partners with various colleges to provide technicians to look after these classrooms. We create and maintain more University web sites than any other group on campus. eMAP collaborates with subject matter experts across campus to provide educational videos, graphics and animations that enhance the learning experience. Working behind the scenes, eMAP provides expertise and support for video conferencing, WebEx and live web streaming – we are the leading service provider for all televised distance education on campus. As the TransformUS process continues, it is important to understand all the services a unit provides; how those services align with the Integrated Plan and how the loss or modification of these services will impact the University in the future.

  52. I’m a tenured professor. I think that the Gwenna Moss does many good things, but I have detected a substantial groundswell of faculty who are dubious of some of its efforts/outputs. I don’t say this as a criticism of GMCTE. Rather, I point this out because I think it may be important to recognize that the value of those efforts/outputs are lost on some faculty. (Including some who I know are excellent teachers.) Presumably, some of those faculty were on the task force that ranked this program in the lower quintiles. My question/suggestion: perhaps the low ranking in the TransformUS process has to do with PERCEPTIONS of what gets done in that shop rather than the reality of its outcomes? I would encourage stakeholders to spend the coming weeks communicating what they add to the university’s teaching/learning experience in the clearest and least jargon-filled way possible. Plain speaking about this resource, to people who aren’t familar with the current buzzwords about learning outcomes, etc., might pay dividends. This is an important resource. Don’t sing to the choir–TEACH people about it! I think that is the best strategy moving forward for those who wish this program to continue in its present (or even an enhanced) form.

    Just my two cents, and although it might sound harsh I say these things in a gesture of support. I think there’s a P.R. problem here rather than a problem with the GMCTE’s programs themselves.

  53. I am writing to express my support for the Division of Social Accountability at the College of Medicine. I was completely shocked when I saw it as a candidate for phasing out.
    I am a 2nd year medical student and this division and the work it does has changed my medical school experience completely. I have been part of the Making The Links Certificate in Global Health, which is run through this division. As part of this certificate program I have spent 6 weeks on a Northern Saskatchewan reserve, many hours working at the westside clinic in Saskatoon’s inner city, and will travel to Mozambique for 6 weeks of clinical experience to experience what medicine is like in Africa. It also has important work in global health, ecohealth, refugee, and immigrant health.

    It is important to have a distinct division for social accountability to show how important it is as a priority of our college and province to produce physicians that care about their community and the needs of the populations that they are serving. With the looming threat of unsustainable, escalating health care costs, we need young physicians who can be leaders in the reform of our healthcare system to really serve the needs of the communities that we work in, and the Division of Social Accountability has this goal at its heart. If this division were phased out, there is no doubt that the work it does would be compromised.

  54. I am expressing my strong support for the GMCTE here. I am taking the GSR 989: Philosophy and Practice of University Teaching course now, which is provided by the Gwenna Moss Centre. I heard about it from many of my friends who benefited from it. As a graduate student, we know how to learn, but we dont know how to teach. However, all PhD student want to continue their academic life after graduation face a problem–they have no idea to answer questions about their teaching style, teaching philosophy. et al during their job interview. I think any graduate students take this course will get a lot of invaluable experience on teaching, which is hard to get from anywhere else. I would like to provide a good example: One of my officemate was looking for job last year, and he failed the interviews to apply a position in other universities. The most important reason was didn’t know much about teaching, even he did very good job on research. Then he talked several times to one staff in the Gwenna Moss Centre for advice, and she was so nice to provide him a lot of good materials, skills, and gave him a lot of good suggestions. You know what, he succeeded in the following interview and got a faculty position in a good university. Another PhD students in our office graduated two years ago also benefited from the GSR989 course and the helps from the GMCTE is a Assistant Professor in McGill University now. And those are the reasons why I am taking this course now. I think the Gwenna Moss Centre is so important for the young teachers and graduate students in U of S to develop their teaching skills.

  55. I am currently working as a Clerical Assistant (Animal Order Desk) within the Health Science Supply Centre (Stores) – my background is as an Animal Technician with additional training for working in research. I feel that this postion would be better if reclassified to Animal Tech as the background knowledge and secondary education required would better reflect the current positon. As the Supply Centre also requires some efficiency transformation – the reclassfication would be an assest also

  56. I’m glad to hear that TransformUS is the beginning, not the end of this conversation.
    I’ve taught several courses at the U of S as a sessional lecturer, and benefitted each and every time from the mentorship, support, and ideas provided by the Gwenna Moss center. These ideas translated directly through me to the students, to create a better, more efficient, engaged, challenging learning environment. The results were reflected in my consistently high SEEQs, but the students did not ‘see’ the connection to GMCTE. Perhaps this is where the disjuncture lies. I share the collective shock at their rating — note how many responses on this feedback form are in support of Gwenna Moss. GMCTE is the epicenter of U of S innovation in teaching and learning. It should have more money and a better space, not less.

  57. I would like to express my support for the GMCTE. I took the GSR 989: Philosophy and Practice of University Teaching provided by the Gwenna Moss Centre, which was invaluable for me as a graduate student. It helped to shape me as a lecturer, and made more confident and knowledgeable in teaching. It helped me a lot in teaching two sessional classes in the Department of Computer Science. The staff of the Gwenna Moss Centre is always available for support and consultation about best teaching practices, and I believe the Centre plays an important role in developing and sustaining effective teaching at the University.

  58. My reading of both reports appears to indicate that one possible combined recommendation for the University Library would be:
    to increase the collections and materials held;
    to reduce all resources for its ability to directly serve and educate students wishing to use those collections effectively;
    to increase the number of hours the remaining staff spends performing research;

    I hope the point is not lost that the net result of degrading the ability of students to use library resources effectively, while demanding staff increase academic use of their trained knowledge, is the proverbial snake eating its own tail. I’m sure professors understand this feeling well, when their faculty commitments limit their opportunity to actually foster student learning beyond lectures.

    Best of luck with finding answers to these and other paradoxes. Might want to keep a couple philosophers around just in case.

  59. Good afternoon,

    Purposeful transformation to achieve essential outcomes requires a clear and consistent definition of those goals to be efficient and effective. As a curriculum development specialist with a background in research design, course design, and universities’ policies and structures, I am attentive to how an effective curriculum, a functioning organization, and an achievable research agenda are all about alignment – alignment between the goals, the methods and the results.

    The University of Saskatchewan, as with any university, is a complex organization with a multitude of interconnected groups and roles that together embody and enact the goals. These goals are often stated in missions, set out in integrated plans, and inscribed in policies, but sometimes they are incongruent across or within documents including in assessments, decisions and recommendation. For example, the recent themes in the Support Services Transformation Task Force report that suggest multiple aims, multiple drivers, and funding planning (but not planners) with quintile rankings and seem to contrast with the clearly articulated and aligned goals, activities and assessment benchmarks of the Third Integrated Plan (IP3) including for curricular innovation and aboriginal engagement (see Appendix 1: Sample Quotes below for supporting quotes).

    The idea that our stated goals, assessments, and activities must be aligned to be effective is not new. Quality research, according to Glassick, Huber & Maeroff (1997), requires the combination of clear goals, appropriate methods, significant results, and reflective critique. Likewise, well-designed courses show constructive alignment between learning outcomes, teaching/learning activities and assessments (Biggs, 2003). Improving curriculum involves careful consideration of program-wide learning outcomes, learning opportunities, and measurement of such learning that is data-informed, faculty-driven and educational developer supported (Wolf, 2007).

    In classrooms and in organizations, alignment creates trust in the process of assessment and helps focus activity. During course design work, I often ask instructors where they are focusing their students’ and their own energy in the course, as everyone’s time is precious. Consider the instance of a faculty member who, upon reviewing his course, noticed that what he focused on in the midterm and final exams (e.g., facts, description) did not match his stated learning outcomes. In revising the learning outcomes, assessments and syllabus, he emphasized to the new class of students that he would test for the learning outcomes, a commitment that he followed through on. After that midterm the students came back with statements of ‘you weren’t kidding!’ and ‘you really did test what you said you would test.’ The faculty member was stunned: Why had the students not believed him? The simple answer was past experience – the students had attended too many classes where the stated goals and outcomes were merely window dressing and the assessed goals were hidden. If experience teaches us that assessment, methods and goals are not aligned, then why would anyone work to achieve the goals when such energy is not recognized by the assessment?

    Organizations too can enable trust and success through alignment with stated goals: the U of S’s Third Integrated Plan, Learning Charter, and Strategic Enrolment Management documents are examples that impressed me and drew me to this university. Such goals can inform the policies and structures that are subsequently implemented (or not) across campus (Bressers & O’Toole, 2005; Howlett, Ramesh, & Perl, 2009), and evaluated and rewarded by measurements that are often tied to resource allocations, just as grades are tied to course assessments. Thus, alignment with goals, including the Third Integrated Plan goals regarding student experience and learning, requires both formal changes in policies and assessments as well as local shifts occurring within the deeply interconnected complex networks of individuals and groups that together create a university organization (e.g., Blackmore, 2009; McClellan, 2010; Reid & Marshall, 2009). Clear goals, aligned activities, and relevant assessment are all outlined in IP3, but show signs of misalignment with more recent reports.

    So what if one of these things (goals, activities, and assessments) is not like the others? We may have good goals, good methods, and good assessments, but they are only effective when they operate in alignment with each other. The Support Services report speaks to the interconnected nature of the university and articulates a need for clearer goals, aligned activities, and implementation (See Appendix 2 for relevant quotes) – a need apparently unmet by the Third Integrated Plan and other vision documents.

    In this current time of new visioning, reviewing of policies and structures, and reassessing of progress and resources, we need to envision and enact a cohesive vision of the University of Saskatchewan with aligned goals, activities, and assessments that can focus the tremendous energy of our complexly interconnected faculty, staff and students towards achieving such success. I look forward to having our U of S community work together to uncover or revive a clear and consistent vision and plan for alignment that maximizes how we focus our energy to produce the best possible learning experiences for our students.


    Carolyn Hoessler, Ph.D.
    Program and Curriculum Development Specialist
    The Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness
    University of Saskatchewan

    P.S. This full review including references and appendices has been emailed to President Busch-Vishniac. If you would like to receive a copy for your own analysis or review, please email me.

  60. From a general perspective the reports certainly seem to leave a great deal of uncertainty no matter the quintile you think you are being placed in. Some areas that have been placed in a quintile are large so even if it is placed in quintile 1 it may be very unclear as to whether that quintile 1 applies to your part of that group/program. I certainly don’t feel the reports have really answered any questions I have regarding the future of my position etc.

    On a more specific note, one of the particular areas that left me wondering was in the Human Resources Data Information area – with the comment that this should be moved into ICT. Coming from the ICT area now, and previously having worked in the Human Resources Data Information area as well, I found this confusing. I don’t at all understand what the intent of that statement is meant to look like in an implementation. The people in HR in that group are business rules experts, functional users. The team in ICT are technical experts. The expertise of the HR group is in the HR area of how that data should be maintained, managed, interpreted etc. They require HR knowledge of things like interpreting collective agreements etc to do that work. They also require a solid understanding of how the HR rules apply to the system and how data is entered and managed in it. My opinion is that the expertise they need and use is rightly and correctly HR expertise. As an ICT person I don’t believe it is our position to have HR expertise of that nature – to require it of us would be deeply inappropriate.

    If the intent is simply that those individuals would be moved to ICT to change the reporting structure, I would suggest that separating those people from the HR area where the business rules are created and enacted would be a mistake. I think it would be likely to create a disconnect that would be difficult to overcome.

    Last, but certainly not least, is that I believe the implementation planning needs to be handled in a transparent manner. The recent “adjustments” felt so opaque that it is disturbing. If the reasoning behind the implementation of the vague recommendations of the task force reports are a black box like the adjustments were it will be deeply disappointing.

    • Re: “Last, but certainly not least, is that I believe the implementation planning needs to be handled in a transparent manner. The recent “adjustments” felt so opaque that it is disturbing. If the reasoning behind the implementation of the vague recommendations of the task force reports are a black box like the adjustments were it will be deeply disappointing.” I agree!

  61. The CERTESL program has been included in Quintile 5 of the Support Services report, with the following comments:

    Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (CERTESL) (078)
    Candidate for phase out, subject to further review (Quintile 5)
    …Is an example of a unique, high quality program that should be able to cover all its costs, including overhead. What is the role of the College of Education in provision of this service?

    To me, the placement in Quintile 5 of a “unique, high quality program” that also provides an essential socioeconomic service to the province is strange. Of course, putting a professional teacher training program on the support rather than the academic side of a benefits analysis also seems strange, and I wonder whether CERTESL would have landed in the same quintile if the academic team had examined it. I have to wonder if the job given to the Support Services task force was too great for the scope allowed within the task force’s terms of reference, because I do not find the placement comprehensible otherwise.

    The current core role of the College of Education in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is to anchor Master’s level coursework so that graduate students in Education can earn an M.Ed. with a focus on TESL. The only faculty member of the College who has suitable TESL qualifications must also find time for research while developing and teaching Master’s level TESL courses and a baseline of undergraduate courses in a couple of curriculum areas. If the College were to take over responsibility for all of the TESL courses and programming currently handled by CCDE, they would have to hire at least one additional faculty member with TESL qualifications.

    CCDE’s work and the College of Education’s work in this essential field of professional training are complementary, therefore. The College is pursuing its particular mandate of research and graduate-level teacher education in the K-12 sector, and we are providing the foundational specialist training for K-12 teachers up to the Additional Qualification Certificate level, while simultaneously enabling adult educators to obtain professional accreditation in Saskatchewan and across the country as English as a Second Language teaching specialists. These adult TESL specialists are urgently needed by regional colleges, SIAST and community-based organizations charged by the Federal and Provincial governments with responsibility for language training of adult immigrants, refugees, and temporary foreign workers. The K-12 specialists are needed just as urgently by Saskatchewan schools who have responsibility for teaching the children of these newcomers to Canada. In Saskatchewan, all of these institutions are under stress because our province’s economic development strategy rests on welcoming increasing numbers of newcomers who do not yet speak English well.

    CERTESL is not only “unique” and “high-quality”: it meets essential needs of the province as a whole. To say that such a program is a “candidate for phase out”, with no further explanation, is a blow to the province’s expanding immigrant population, and to the province at a time when it is relying on immigration as a source of economic strength.

    CERTESL instructors and graduates provide leadership to the whole of the fast-growing community of ESL educators in Saskatchewan. Looking at the current roster of TESL Saskatchewan, the provincial professional association of ESL educators, 9 of its 21 board members are CERTESL graduates, one is a CERTESL current student, five are current and the president a past instructor, and several have served as practicum supervisors for CERTESL students. At SKTEAL, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation Special Subject council for ESL teachers, the majority of the executive are also CERTESL graduates, current students, instructors, and/or practicum supervisors. The acting director of the unit within the Ministry of the Economy that deals with the integration of immigrants is also a CERTESL graduate. As immigration continues to be a cornerstone of the provincial economic strategy, and as language awareness grows in the north of the province, the provincial need for CERTESL or something that fills the same niche will not weaken: if anything, it will grow.

    The report has not said why CERTESL has been designated as a candidate for phase-out, other than an indirect reference to a smallish budget shortfall that doesn’t happen every year. Please, let us have clarity about the significance of this shortfall. The fees paid by the students this year cover about 80% of the program’s entire costs, so it is a highly cost-effective program compared to most, and under the TABBS model it will probably prove to generate more revenue than expenses.

    So why has CERTESL been flagged as a possible candidate for phase-out? As someone who has dedicated her career to ensuring that immigrant learners are able to receive the language training they need from dedicated, well-trained ESL professionals, I find myself both confused by the recommendation, and disheartened by what appears to be a lack of understanding of the program and its place within the university and the community.

    • I also question the appropriateness of placing CERTESL and many other CCDE programs on the support services side. CERTESL, like the College of Education’s Special Education Certificate (SPEC), is a post-degree Additional Qualification Certificate approved by the provincial Board of Teacher Education and Certification to meet specific needs identified within our school systems. I can’t see the logic behind placing CERTESL in Quintile 5 when SPEC is placed in Quintile 2.

      Aside from being a U of S employee, I am a CERTESL student, as is my husband. What impresses us most about this program is how it prepares one to teach in virtually every ESL context, which includes the K-12 system, adult newcomers/refugees, post-secondary international students, and teaching abroad in foreign countries. In addition, three CERTESL courses have substantial First Nations-specific content, one of which is entirely dedicated to teaching indigenous learners. The provincial Ministry of Education is now considering TESL training for teachers in northern schools as a response to First Nations communities needs for learning standard English, which means that CERTESL could become even more valuable to teachers who seek specialized skills for teaching Aboriginal learners. 

      Immigration has been identified as being vital to our economic growth. Internationalization and Aboriginal engagement have been identified as key priorities for our institution. The demand for qualified ESL/EAL/ESD teachers will increase. CERTESL is the only program in Saskatchewan and the only distance program in Canada that meets all requirements and accreditation standards for the ESL teaching profession. How can it possibly be a candidate for phase out?

  62. Last week I read the two TransformUS Task Force reports with a growing sense of foreboding. Perhaps it was the indigestible [poisonUS?] term “quintile” that alerted me to the inevitability of the outcome–for any committee, any document, that would employ such a term is inimical to the kinds of connectedness and personal relationships that have distinguished the GMCTE and its work. For many years, the Centre has been a leader in supporting and disseminating the scholarship of teaching; it has developed and sustained programs that help faculty enhance their teaching and share practical ideas with their colleagues; it has been at the forefront of pedagogical training for teaching assistants and graduate students. And now that same Centre is in peril.

    The threat that hangs over the Centre has sent shockwaves across the country. How can a university claim to care about good teaching and curricula while at the same time countenance the elimination of the very Centre that supports them? I note with interest, though not surprise, that programs that support research (read “grantsmanship”, for not all research is celebrated) have fared better. Where do exceptional researchers hail from if not from exceptional undergraduate programs taught by fine professors who have a sense of community with and recognition from their peers and institution?

    I was program director in the Gwenna Moss Centre from its inception until May, 2004. Even after I left to move to the Maritimes, I took great pride in the Centre’s work and was proud of my past association.

    Perhaps the Committee will come to its senses as the review progresses. If not, when the U of S claims to care about good teaching, everyone will know it is nothing but noise, hollow, empty, slightly noxious–and you know what that is . . . . FlatUS!

    Eileen M. Herteis
    Director, Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre, Mount Allison University
    Past Chair, Association of Atlantic Universities Coordinating Committee on Faculty Development

    • Unfortunately, I am concerned that it is not only GMCTE that is hurt by the flawed notion of “quintile”, but rather the whole university, which, very sadly, is already divided into “winners and losers”. This is something that has been repeated several times by the university community over the last year: The reductionist and fragmented approach of Dickeson, even if modified, can not correctly capture any “program” across disciplines/departments/colleges, let alone something as complex and emergent as the whole university. Ironically, the assessment is supposed to be a “snapshot” of the whole university, while in reality, the latter seems to be completely missing in the final assessment. It is like measuring the volume of water in an olympic pool using a teaspoon.

      The model seems to be flawed because it is blind to interconnectedness of programs, the input data is incomplete, and hence flawed, by the admission of the task forces themselves, and the process is flawed since it has been altered along the way in an ad hoc manner. If it is a judgement call and not a quantitative exercise, then it could have at the very least been done by peers from U15.
      Objectively, what is the validity of the resulting recommendations of the task forces? Are we better off flipping a coin and gambling the future of our institution?

      In any case, happy holidays!

      • It must have been very difficult indeed for members of both Task Forces to maintain the arm’s length objectivity which is demanded in academic reviews. They knew that they were making consequential recommendations and also that their identities were known to the entire community, who would undoubtedly be scrutinizing the reports for any scintilla of bias.

        Your suggestion that U15 partners be involved is excellent, and I hope that such truly peer-level review will be invited before any final decision is made.

    • The TransformUS process has failed to acknowledge the interconnectivity of programming on campus, most especially in the case of the University Learning Centre (ULC) and Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (GMCTE), which support excellence in both college-bound and campus-wide initiatives. Particular examples may be found within the Division of Science Office of Outreach, Aboriginal Student Achievement Program, and Office of First Nations Engagement—each of which received rankings in the 1st and 2nd quintile, deservedly so. Each of these programs has been directly supported by the GMCTE and ULC, which were assigned to the 4th and 5th quintile, despite clear and direct links to upper quintile programs. Indeed the ASAP learning community only moved from the ULC to College of Arts & Science in November of last year, and has incorporated courses developed by GMCTE staff, taught with the support of the ULC and peer mentor programs. The Division of Science Office of Outreach’s Science Ambassador Program has drawn on expertise in the GMCTE to support the preparation of its science outreach ambassadors for remote Aboriginal community placements. Aboriginal community priorities for culturally-connected science teaching and learning have found alignment with GMCTE expertise in experiential course design, paving the way for a pioneering partnership between the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Nihewin Foundation in support of our culturally-integrated Provincial K-8 Science Curriculum in alignment with IP3 priorities for K-12 engagement. These service initiatives, and many other academic programs and support services, would be strained and weakend without the connective visions, expertise, and programming that has underwritten them. A careful examination of how the ULC and GMCTE are connected to Q1 and Q2 ranked programs and services is imperative before recommendations are made or enacted.

  63. By now, many people know that the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education (CCDE) has been ranked in either quintile 4 or 5. Business and Leadership Programs (BLP) as part of CCDE has been ranked in quintile 5 – phase out.

    In the past decade BLP has provided over 5,000 participants with professional development classes, and our leadership program has well over 1,000 graduates. BLP was established in 1993 as a way to provide leadership development to mid-management academic chairs within the university. At that time it was supported by internal operating funds, and in 2006-07 was disestablished and reorganized as a cost-recovery unit with a mission of outreach within CCDE. Since then, it has managed to operate on a balanced budget.

    BLP is not exclusive and welcomes participants from inside and outside of the university. 85% of participation and 95% of revenue is external. External revenue allows us to operate and provide PD services back to the University. In fact we are the only leadership/professional development program that operates independent of University-based operating or endowment funds, and is still accessible by all university staff. Phasing out BLP would not save the University money, and it would mean we are the only U15 university without a leadership program through a community education program.

    BLP’s reorientation towards outreach in 2007 meant program gaps were created within the University. As a result, a number of colleges and departments, including HR, have initiated their own leadership programs. Other leadership programs – student, faculty, administration, Indigenous, and others are intermittently discussed. This is very commendable, and any initiative promoting leadership development should be praised. My suggestion is to seek some alignment between programs.

    Most leadership programs start with the same principles: self-awareness, communication skills, and collaboration. If we want sustainable programs in leadership, we should be practicing our principles. We should work together to coordinate common tools and resources, review overlaps and duplications, discuss mutual ideas, and share best practices. The first rule of change – create a sense of urgency. The first rule of leadership – model the way. Perhaps it will start with TransformUS.

    Mark Brown, Program Manager
    Business and Leadership Programs,
    Centre for Continuing and Distance Education
    Ph. 966-5523

  64. In response to the TransformUS report placing CCDE Distance, Online, and TV in quintile 4, I believe a disservice has been done to the students who study at a distance; to the staff at CCDE; to the U of S staff who work at the PA Campus; to the sessionals, tutor/markers, proctors and others who facilitate distance U of S courses; to the people in Regional Colleges and other educational programs who work with and ensure the success of these students; to the communities in which the U of S offers courses outside of Saskatoon; and to the province itself which the University serves. CCDE and their partners who work with students who study at a distance from the main campus are the face of the University of Saskatchewan outside of the main campus in Saskatoon. Without fully understanding the context in which this kind of learning occurs, the task force inadvertently has called into question this vital part of U of S programming. The students who study at a distance do so for a variety of reasons: to accommodate a job in one’s home town or in Saskatoon, to gain confidence in small classes, to try it out for a year without the huge commitment involved in moving to Saskatoon, to save money so one can move to the main campus next year, to help around the farm, to look after one’s children, to accommodate a spouse/partner who cannot move to Saskatoon, to be able to work 7 in / 7 out in one of the mines up north, or to try a new mode of delivery. These U of S courses for students who study at a distance are the life line for many students, their parents, their friends, and their future employers, to the main campus of the U of S. Without CCDE and its partners and relationships built up over dozens of years, these students certainly might not entertain the idea of studying at the U of S at all. In fact, if the U of S does not continue its programming to these students, another university will, without question, be interested in fulfilling these students’ needs. Moreover, the recommendations contradict the strategic priority given to distributed learning in the third integrated plan (see and the President’s draft Vision 2025 document. Did the Support Service Task Force members somehow think it was their job to make up new priorities? I thought they were supposed to look at how programs aligned with existing priorities. For these reasons, I believe that the task force’s recommendations about CCDE Distance, Online and TV programming should be reconsidered in the light of the complex relationships that make up distance education at the University of Saskatchewan.

    • I’ve been a staff member at the University of Saskatchewan, CCDE and Prince Albert Campus less than two years and I’m continually astounded at the demand for university education in this area. Enrolment has steadily increased, and I am increasingly receiving calls of delighted potential students who have just become aware that they can study closer to home, or in their home community. It is also not uncommon to hear from rural-raised students who are overwhelmed in Saskatoon and wishing they could come back to our campus. Distance education, in my view, needs to be considered for potential expansion for several reasons, many of which Rita has mentioned: 1) it is aligned with the university’s strategic direction; 2) demand exists and is growing; 3) it enhances the chances for student academic success, especially in their first year; 4) it reduces congestion, demand on central facilities, and urban sprawl at the main university cities; 5) it meets the needs of students and their families; 6) the Aboriginal community could be better served in smaller centres such as Prince Albert; 7) it reduces our eco-footprint; and 8) if managed properly, it can be profitable for all involved. The CCDE serves a broad cross-section of needs, and I believe that if it is fragmented and piece-mealed out to other departments, it would lose its effectiveness and cost the university more in the end. That is, unless the university deems distance education is better served by other providers.

  65. I’m unclear as to how these results align with other strategic initiatives that have been undertaken in the last year. For example the report from the vice-provost teaching and learning – The Distributed Learning Strategy Development Project – was delivered in January of this year. Dan Pennock who penned the report said,

    “We have a lot of activity that’s not guided by strategy and the goal is to expand our distributed learning in a guided, thoughtful way.”

    This report has already been moved into action by the new vice-provost teaching and learning, Patti McDougall who said, “The heart of the distributed learning strategy is to co-ordinate what we do so that we can do more”.

    But now, under TransformUS, a less informed committee has made recommendations that are in direct opposition to the recommendations in this in-depth comprehensive strategy report supported by the office of the vice-provost. Although the report suggested that a new budget model would be explored it saw CCDE as a major contributor to the success of a distributed learning strategy at the U of S.

    “That (budget) model would see administrative processes for direct-entry colleges flow through the Centre for Continuing & Distance Education, and all distributed learning initiatives would be financially sustainable for both academic and administrative units.” Dan Pennock via James Pepler, 2013 (

    So I ask you, having spent the time and energy of the previous vice-provost teaching and learning, the current vice-provost teaching and learning, the director of CCDE, the director of the GMCTE, the director of eMAP and many others who strategized over how to best serve the future distributed needs of colleges and programs across campus and beyond, will PCIP now ignore these insights and instead act on the recommendations of a committee who were given unarguably far less information about the needs and abilities of colleges and units? Which report will trump the other?

    Obviously there is a misalignment of recommendations between these two reports. I’m not saying there isn’t room for improved efficiencies at CCDE, eMAP, or GMCTE. In fact, The Distributed Learning Strategy Development Project outlines numerous opportunities for us all to think about how we operate. All we are asking is for the opportunity to see a plan through to the end for the benefit of the University and the students it serves.

    Thank you,
    Jordan Epp, M.Ed
    Instructional Designer
    Distance, Off-Campus, and Certificate Programs
    Centre for Continuing & Distance Education
    Office: 306-966-5357
    Twitter: @eppjordan

    • Jordan,

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment and your concerns about differing recommendations.

      In undertaking TransformUS we communicated that this was an exercise in prioritization among programs and services across campus. We knew that many important programs and services would be recommended as candidates for reduced resourcing, re-configuration, or even phase out. The task force recommendations are the beginning of a conversation about what we want to invest more or less in for the future. It is important to understand that the task force recommendations are being followed up by this current consultation period during which meetings will be held with Deans and unit leaders to discuss the recommendations. We also have town halls scheduled for community input. It is during this consultation period that we will come to a more complete understanding of the thoughts of our leaders and campus community about the recommendations.

      • Greg,
        Thank you for your response. I just wanted to take one final opportunity to reinforce the notion that the conversation around the future of distributed learning at the UofS did not begin with the TransformUS recommendations as you suggest. In fact, they began with The Distributed Learning Strategy Development Project and have been echoed in the IP3 and in President Busch-Vishniac’s Vision 2025 document. I fear that the high profile of the TransformUS process will silence a conversation already in progress and pull the rug out from under a timely, practical, and well planned initiative.

  66. I am concerned about major inconsistencies in the process and in the report. For example, when concerns were raised that quintiles based on numbers of programs would lead to a strong bias against small programs, the Academic programs task force chairs stated in person and in their May 2, 2013 blog:

    “Through the review process, the job of the task force is to place programs in these quintiles, not by the number of programs, but by the proportion they represent of the portion of the operating budget available for academic programs. The result will be that programs whose costs add up to 20% in budgetary terms will be placed in each quintile, based on the assessment by the task force of all academic programs.”

    However, now the report indicates in Table 1, that for quintiles 3,4, and 5, in fact the quintiles have been based on numbers of programs and not program costs and
    indeed quintile 5, for example, is dominated by small, low cost programs, as predicted. When the Task force decided to abandon the intended meaning of the quintiles, they should not have resorted to using the even more faulty “numbers of programs” scheme. This has resulted in several efficiently run small honours and/or interdisciplinary programs being put in quintile 5; these programs attract excellent students who are interested in a challenge and want their program/degree name to accurately reflect their area(s) of specialization. Such programs fit well with the university’s goals to foster excellence and to enhance the student experience by offering students what they want at very little (if any) extra cost.

  67. Most programs under the Office of the Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning were placed in quintiles 4 and 5. I don’t take this to mean that teaching and learning aren’t valued, but rather as a suggestion that these supports should be configured differently than they are now. I was wondering, can anyone think of a better way to have teaching and learning support on this campus, other than the current setup?

    These services include supports for students such as Writing Help, Math & Stats Help, and the PAL Peer Mentor program (where student leaders make possible things such as Study Skills workshops, Tech Help, Grad Help, Learning Communities in partnership with colleges, Structured Study Sessions). These services also include supports for instructors including graduate students, sessional instructors and faculty through the Gwenna Moss Centre (such as instructional design, curriculum innovation, supporting the multidisciplinary research area of scholarship of teaching and learning). Also included are CCDE (which offers things like language classes, distance education, professional development) and EMAP (which offers things like multimedia expertise, web development, equipment services).

    One alternative is to have each college house its own version of the service, but I can hardly see how that would be a more efficient use of resources. Another alternative would be to break everything up and place some pieces in some colleges and other pieces in other colleges. But in doing this we lose the opportunities we’ve had for innovation. For example, in recent years the ULC has partnered with ICT to use the same Tracks ticketing software that is used by ICT Help Desk to also be used for Writing Help as well as for Math & Stats Help. As another example, the same online registration system is used whether it’s a faculty member signing up for a workshop on assessment methods, or an undergraduate student signing up for a workshop on writing multiple choice exams. This kind of innovation would not have happened if we hadn’t been working together for the last few years.

    Thanks for any ideas!

    Coordinator, Online Support
    University Learning Centre

  68. It looks like the CCDE will disappear. But some of its programs are in category 4 and the Prairie Hort Certificate program is in category 2. The Hort week and Master gardener events seem well attended and a valuable outreach activity.
    Horticulture in Plant Sciences was ranked in Category 2. Hort has a strong connection to the CCDE and we are frequently involved in their activities. In many ways the CCDE handles public needs that free us up to do more research and other outreach activities. If they disappear or are reorganized poorly, it could result in in additional responsibilities for us. I would hope that the Horticulture people in Plant Sciences would be consulted when the time comes to make decisions about the CCDE. This could be true for other activities that the CCDE does.

  69. I fully agree that my unit, the Language Centre, needs to be part of a greater effort on campus toward International Student support. For years, we have been trying to accomplish this very thing but unclear priorities across campus have made the needs of International students and ‘on again – off again’ proposition.

    I do not particularly agree that our classes could be delivered under another department. Our staff are specially trained ESL teachers, who are not faculty, and the needs of a language class are not comparable to typical credit content delivery. We operate small classes for extended hours as is recommended in best practices and to change that would jeopardize the integrity of instruction. Advanced degrees for ESL teachers are rare but extensive training is necessary – oftentimes, it is thought that people who can speak English can teach English and this is far from the truth.

    In recent collaborations with Linguistics, our closest relation on campus, it was obvious that that department did not share our understanding of ESL delivery or expertise, although I am sure they have other strengths. Being grouped with another academic department that does not have full understanding of the field may also jeopardize the integrity of instruction.

    Continued language support is clearly needed for current students as well as conditionally accepted potential students; however, I urge the committee to examine the uniqueness of the Language Centre as it is not a good fit with a typical academic unit, and consider how the unit may be better utilized for the needs of the greater campus community.

  70. I am having difficulty in understanding exactly where i stand, which job description i am included in.
    Can you please inform?
    Corrie Willfong
    Department of Anatomy,
    College of Medicine

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