Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Statement from the President and the Minister of Innovation & Advanced Education and Ministry of Jobs

Statement from Minister Lori Sigurdson, Ministry of Innovation & Advanced Education and Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour

“Today, Doug Goss announced he would be stepping down from his role as chair for the University of Alberta’s board of governors. Mr. Goss has served in the position since February 2012, and I wanted to thank him for his work and efforts promoting one of the province’s leading post-secondary institutions over the last three years. Our government wishes Mr. Goss all the best in his future endeavours.”


Statement from University of Alberta President David Turpin

“Doug Goss has made outstanding contributions to this university––he is a proud and passionate Albertan, and an unwavering champion of the university who believes we play a key role in the future success of our city, our province and our country. I thank him for his efforts on behalf of the U of A to date, and look forward to working with him as he focuses his U of A volunteer activities in a new direction.”

For more information, please refer to the post regarding the Statement from the Board of Governors Chair.

Statement from the Board of Governors Chair

University of Alberta board chair Doug Goss has issued an important statement to the community. Please visit the Board of Governors website to read his message.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Announcement - Vice-Provost Appointment

I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Nataraj (Nat) Kav has accepted a part-time appointment to the role of Vice-Provost (Academic Programs and Instruction) for the period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018.

Nat received his PhD in Biochemistry  from the University of Calgary and in 2002 joined the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. His area of research involves the application of proteomics- and genomics-based discovery techniques to identify, characterize and validate novel genes for crop improvement through biotechnology (genetic engineering). Particular emphasis is on the use of genetic engineering (biotechnology) for the improvement of canola and other species of importance to the economy of Alberta and Canada. Nat has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles and holds two United States patents. He was the recipient of the Faculty Teacher of the Year Award in 2003, 2005, and 2006, and was also awarded the Graduate Student Association Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision in 2006.

Since 2009, Nat has served as Associate Dean (Academic) for the Faculty of ALES. He also served as the Associate Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, from October 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. In 2008 to 2009 he held the position of Associate Chair in the Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutrition Science.

With Nat's outstanding record of administrative and academic achievements, I am pleased that he has agreed to join the Provost's team.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed advice concerning this appointment.

Please join me in welcoming Nat to the Provost's Office.

Steven Dew

Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Announcement - Deputy Provost Appointed

I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Wendy Rodgers has accepted the position of Deputy Provost for the period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018.

Wendy received her PhD from the University of Waterloo and in 1993 joined the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. Her research interests are social psychology of exercise, health and lifestyle behaviour and theoretical and practical issues of program initiation and maintenance. In 2001, Wendy was awarded a McCalla Research Professorship and in 2009 a Killam Annual Professorship.

Since 2011, Wendy has served as Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. She also served as Associate Dean (Research) from 2001 to 2003.

With Wendy's outstanding record of administrative and academic achievements, I am confident that the University community will experience a smooth transition over the next year.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed advice concerning this appointment.

Steven Dew
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Letter to the University Community

Dear colleagues,

I am truly honoured to become president of the University of Alberta, an institution I have long admired.  Over the last six months, I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you, and with your help, have begun to develop a much fuller understanding of exactly how and why the University of Alberta has emerged as one of Canada’s leading universities and one of a small group of the world’s leading public institutions. I am fortunate to follow in the footsteps of President-Emerita Indira Samarasekera and her predecessors and to continue the legacy of excellence so firmly established.

Throughout the winter and spring, I have met with faculty, staff, students, deans, vice-presidents, community leaders, and officials from all three levels of government. I took a moment last week to reflect on my activities since the New Year and estimate that I’ve been involved in about 250 such meetings. All of them have been extremely helpful and instructive; I have learned a great deal about our university and the fundamental role that it plays in the social, cultural, and economic development of our city, province, and country.

I’ve encountered a tremendous sense of pride in the U of A that spans disciplines and campuses. Meeting with 17 Faculty Councils, I heard about the opportunities and challenges facing each faculty, as well as those facing the university community as a whole. Common themes ran through these meetings, and I received helpful advice about how we can begin to address these together. I look forward to hearing more on topics such as enhancing strategic faculty and student recruitment, celebrating and strengthening the U of A’s diversity, enriching the learning and research environment, and continuing effective engagement with various external communities.

Since January, I have also co-chaired two search committees for the selection of the new provost and vice-president (academic) and the vice-president (advancement). Through these opportunities, I have not only gained direct experience with policies, processes, and procedures specific to the U of A, but also gathered valuable insight into its collegial academic and administrative culture. I am delighted to have Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Steve Dew and Vice-President (Advancement) Heather McCaw join an outstanding group of vice-presidents on the executive team.

I would like to thank everyone I’ve met for your wise counsel and thoughtful advice, and to acknowledge I still have much to learn. In the coming weeks, I will begin working with the senior team to establish the process that will be used to develop the next iteration of the U of A’s strategic plan. If you have any advice for the senior team or me about the nature of the planning process, please contact me at president@ualberta.ca. I anticipate having this process in place in early fall. As it unfolds, there will be several opportunities for all members of the U of A community to engage and provide input on the future directions of the university.

Finally, I’d like say a few words about Edmonton and Alberta. My wife, Suromitra Sanatani, and I have been so warmly welcomed into this community—we have never felt anything like it. We have been impressed with the genuine enthusiasm and passion we’ve encountered. It is clear that the University of Alberta matters to each of you and to Edmontonians and Albertans. So many people we’ve met speak with fierce pride about the U of A and have shared with us their belief that this university—having already made countless contributions—has the potential to have an even greater impact on the well-being of the city, province, and country.  These feelings of pride and potential have resonated strongly with me, and I feel privileged to work with each of you to make that potential a reality.

Yours sincerely,

David H. Turpin, CM, LLD, FRSC
President and Vice-Chancellor

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

UAlberta faculty members called to serve in Alberta Government

I am delighted to share good news and congratulations on this my last day as president of the University of Alberta. This afternoon, the Government of Alberta announced that Carl Amrhein, Professor of Geography and former Provost and Vice-President (Academic), will become Deputy Minister of Health (effective August 4) while Philip Bryden, Professor of Law and former dean, will take up the dual position of Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Solicitor General (effective July 6).

Both Carl and Philip bring extensive research and administrative experience to these positions. Last November, Carl was seconded to the provincial government as official administrator in the Ministry of Health and has been working with the Conference Board of Canada to develop a national strategy for post-secondary education in response to changing global trends. While on administrative leave during the 2014-15 academic year, Philip, an expert in administrative law, was the Schulich Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law in the fall and Visiting Professor at the University of Adelaide’s Adelaide Law School through the winter.

Today’s announcement follows last week’s news that Premier Rachel Notley has selected Andrew Leach, Associate Professor of Business,and one of the U of A’s most active public intellectuals, to chair the Alberta Government’s climate change advisory panel.

The University of Alberta strives to be a public institution devoted to promoting and facilitating research and teaching to the benefit of the public we serve. As an institution, we aim to inspire leadership and citizenship, by actively engaging with our communities and providing the knowledge and expertise needed for community development and sound public policy. Having two of our leading faculty members appointed to senior positions in Alberta’s public service and another chosen to lead a major advisory panel is an affirmation of the critical role we play within society as well as a strong commendation of  our colleagues’ individual achievements,  research and administrative talents, knowledge, and public leadership.

Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their service to Alberta.

Indira V. Samarasekera
President and Vice-Chancellor

Friday, June 26, 2015

President's Farewell Bulletin--June 26

Dear colleagues and friends,

Today I send my last weekly bulletin. Next week on Wednesday, July 1, we will welcome David Turpin as he formally steps into the role of 13th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta. Few universities are fortunate to attract a leader with such an extensive record of excellence and achievement across the full spectrum of an academic career—from research to teaching to administrative leadership at every level. Although I have known him for years, in meeting and talking with him frequently over the last six months, I have come to admire his thoughtfulness, creative thinking, strategic approach, and wisdom even more, and have no doubt that with his leadership the U of A’s future will be very bright.

I am certain of this because I also know that he will have the privilege of leading a community of faculty, staff, and students whose dedication and commitment to this institution is a formidable force—especially so, when they are united by a vision and mission in the service of the public good. Ten years ago, we created a vision called “Dare to Discover” and we focused our energies on building the four cornerstones we believe define a world-class public university. By doing so, we made our students’ academic and co-curricular experiences better. We built a learning and research environment that allows for award-winning teaching and cutting-edge research. We gained a reputation for being an academic community where exceptional teams of talented people can thrive. We made the U of A an active and engaged part of the broader community. We firmly established the U of A as a leader among Canada’s research-intensive universities and built an international reputation for excellence that has attracted exceptional international partners and networks.

Thank you for all that you have done to fulfill the vision and mission of “Dare to Discover”. An effort of this magnitude takes the dedication of everyone. Thank you for your energy, creativity, and hard work. Thank you for the many, many ways in which you have inspired me to reach higher and further than I first thought possible. Thank you for your support and friendship. As I said at my last convocation, being president of this great university has been the best experience of my life and I have all of you to thank for that.

I wish all of you the very best for the future and look forward to meeting again when we come together to celebrate David Turpin’s installation next November.

Goodbye and good luck!

Indira

Friday, June 19, 2015

President's Weekly Bulletin--June 19

The highlight of this week came yesterday with the Alberta Government’s announcement of reinvestment in post-secondary education. The change in direction was a strong endorsement of the value that the government places on the work we do as educators and researchers. For those of you who may not have seen my Colloquy post yesterday, let me reiterate the key changes relating to PSE that are contained in Bill 3, the government’s interim supply bill:

  • The 1.4 per cent cut to the Campus Alberta grant announced in the March provincial budget will be reversed.
  • There will be an increase of two per cent to the Campus Alberta grant for both 2015–2016 and 2016–2017.
  • Funding for targeted enrolment will be restored.
  • Domestic tuition and mandatory non-instructional fees (MNIFs) will be frozen for two years at 2014–2015 levels
  • Market modifiers approved earlier this year will be rolled back; however, universities will receive base funding to cover the losses incurred by the rollback.

All of this represents an important step forward. Challenges remain and there will be lots of work to do in the coming months as the government undertakes a full review of how Campus Alberta is funded. By the end of the month, we should know more about the details of yesterday’s announcement as they relate to the U of A in particular. We have been assured by government that they are aware we have fully prepared and begun implementing our 2015–2016 budget and they have no expectation that internal decisions will be reversed. The task of managing the announced changes now falls to President-Elect David Turpin and incoming Provost Steve Dew. Given that we do not yet know some of our main costs for this year, such as academic staff salaries and benefits, the impact of yesterday’s news will only become clear over time.

As I come closer to my final day, the rest of this week involved a number of “lasts.” Today I met for the last time with the Board of Governors. On Wednesday, I attended my last meeting of Deans’ Council, where I was able to gather final thoughts and advice to pass on to David Turpin next week when I meet with him. It was also the last Deans’ Council meeting for Fern Snart, dean of education, and David Lynch, dean of engineering, both of whom have held their positions throughout my entire presidency—David for longer than that with a total of 20 years as dean. Both Fern and David have been outstanding leaders within their faculties, the university, and the broader community, inspiring many within their sphere of influence to also strive for excellence. Thanks in part to their active and highly effective outreach efforts, the U of A is now considered an integral part of many communities, playing a key leadership role across many sectors here in the city as well as across Alberta, Canada, and the world. Please join me in thanking David and Fern for their tremendous service to the U of A.

Yesterday, I also hosted my last Quaecumque Vera Honour Society Luncheon for donors who have made bequests to the university in their wills. Let me take this opportunity to thank them and all of the university’s donors for their generosity, vision, and steadfast support and friendship. With their support of endowed research chairs, research institutes and centres, student scholarships, and more, the U of A attracts top faculty and students and is able to provide the funding needed to achieve research excellence across the disciplines. Thank you to all!

Until next Friday,

Indira

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Alberta Government reinvests in Campus Alberta

Today we have received a clear message that the Alberta government sees post-secondary education as a true public good with broad social and economic benefits for all Albertans. Bill 3, the government’s interim supply bill, provides critical reinvestment in Campus Alberta universities and colleges that is an important first step to establishing stable and predictable funding to our sector for the future. A total of $133 million is being reinvested in Campus Alberta in 2015-2016.

On behalf of all faculty, staff, and students at the University of Alberta, I thank the government for this reinvestment and for the bold message it sends:  instead of shrinking public investment in post-secondary education, the Alberta government has chosen to reinvest and reinforce the message that Albertans need access to high quality post-secondary education to succeed as citizens and individuals and to build strong socially and economically diverse communities. Indeed, throughout the history of the province, the U of A has been a foundational public institution, providing educational programs and research that launched and continue to feed the development of the province’s key industries. As important, this institution also fosters understanding, enables advances in social justice, cultural diversity, and sound public policy, and inspires an entrepreneurial mindset that leads to social and technical innovation throughout our communities.

Today's announcement includes the following highlights:

  • The 1.4% cut to the Campus Alberta grant announced in the March provincial budget will be reversed.
  • There will be an increase of 2% to the Campus Alberta grant for both 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.
  • Funding for targeted enrolment will be restored.
  • Domestic tuition and mandatory non-instructional fees (MNIFs) will be frozen for 2 years at 2014-2015 levels.
  • Market modifiers approved earlier this year will be rolled back; however, universities will receive base funding to cover the losses incurred by the roll-back.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will learn more about the specific details on how these decisions will impact the U of A. At this point, the government has noted that they are aware that universities have prepared and begun implementing their 2015-2016 budgets and do not expect internal decisions to be rescinded. President-elect David Turpin and incoming Provost Steve Dew will be working with deans to amend the U of A’s 2015-2016 budget as detailed information comes from government later this month.

The government has also indicated today that they will be launching a comprehensive review of current Campus Alberta funding models with the goal of achieving sustainable funding models for the future that will give Alberta’s post-secondary institutions the stability we need to make sound, strategic decisions for the benefit of our students and researchers.  This is welcome news, opening up a major opportunity for us to provide leadership across the sector and to reinforce the enormous positive impact that the U of A has on Alberta.

Much work remains to be done over the coming weeks and months. However, today marks a major step forward in the establishment of positive, forward-looking conversation about sustaining and strengthening Alberta’s post-secondary sector for the benefit of all.

Indira V. Samarasekera
President and Vice-Chancellor

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Information Technology Award Winners

It is with great pleasure that the Office of the Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Information Services and Technology) announce the winners of the 2015 Information Technology Awards. My office received a number of outstanding nominations clearly indicating the calibre of talent we have employed at our institution. We would also like to thank the nominators for taking the time to recognize the efforts of your colleagues.
And the winners are….

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AMBASSADOR AWARD
Robert Brennan, Information Services and Technology

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EXCELLENCE AWARD
Competency Based Assessment (CBAS) Team

Mirella Chiodo, Mike Donoff, Paul Humphries, Fred Janke, Kay Kovithavongs, John Chmelicek, Darren Nichols, Shelley Ross, Shirley Schipper

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY UNSUNG HERO AWARD (two awards given)
Darcy Frank, Campus Saint-Jean
Goetz Dapp, Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CLIENT SERVICE AWARD
Peter Davis, Faculty of Nursing

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DISTINGUISHED CAREER AWARD
Robin Sawh, Information Services and Technology

The awards will be presented on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 as part of IST's CONNECT Conference.

Please join me in congratulating this year’s winners!

Mike MacGregor
Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Information Services and Technology)