Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ask a question for the President's town hall

On April 19th, President Samarasekera will be hosting her annual spring town hall. Following brief remarks, there will be an opportunity for questions and discussion relating to initiatives, events and issues of importance to the university community.

Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Time: 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
Location: Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS) 1-430
Please register online at:

In addition to the normal venues for asking a question—either in person or through the registration form—the President will also be taking questions through both Colloquy and Twitter. Any faculty, staff or students who have questions may submit them here in the comments, or through Twitter. If using Twitter, please submit your questions to @ualberta, using the hashtag #ualbertapres or #ualbertaTHall.

Please use your real name in your submissions, as well as your status on campus as faculty, staff, or student (we will also take questions from alumni). This will hopefully allow us to pull a question from each pool, giving the President a broader range of questions to answer (if you are using a Twitter handle that is different from your name, we will contact you asking for your real name and status on campus.) Please have your questions submitted to us by 12 pm, MST, on Monday, April 18, 2011.

We can’t guarantee that your question will be answered at the town hall. The President will answer as many questions as she can, but priority will be given to questions asked by those in attendance. Questions that are answered by the President will also be posted here on Colloquy following the Town Hall. We will use a web application called Audioboo to record President Samarasekera’s responses, and they will be posted using the Audioboo player widget.

During the town hall, university staff (and interested others) will live tweet the event using the hashtag #ualbertaTHall. Tweets will come through the main U of A twitter account, as well as other accounts run or used by staff. We will tape the town hall, and post the video to YouTube. We will also attempt to take a picture or two for our Tumblr page.

Social media is another way for the University of Alberta to communicate with, and receive communication from, members of the U of A community. This initiative is a broadening of the town hall concept, and will allow even more people to interact with the President. We are excited by the opportunity these tools provide us in interacting and engaging with more members of the campus community, and look forward to receiving your questions for the President.

For more information on the town hall itself, please contact or 780.492.1525.


  1. Thanks, Ms. Dick. No offense to anyone but it isn't really a town hall and interactive if we don't have the spontaneity of face-to-face interaction. When all the answers are submitted and screened in advance and the answers are all prepared accordingly, its just basically a speech broken up with planned audience "participation." I'm just disappointed that we can't have a real town hall and see how the President thinks on her feet.

  2. No offense to anyone but it isn't really a town hall and interactive if we don't have the spontaneity of face-to-face interaction.

    I'm just disappointed that we can't have a real town hall and see how the President thinks on her feet.

    It is a Town Hall. On Tuesday, April 19,from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm,in CCIS 1-430. Just like it says at the top of this post. As it also says in the post, questions left here are additional questions to the ones that will likely be asked at the town hall, or that have been sent in through the registration form. This is just another way for people to communicate with the President. If you don't feel comfortable leaving a question here, we encourage you to attend the town hall in person and have your voice heard.


  3. Question: I gather that notwithstanding furlough days driven by "financial crisis", the University has found itself with an $11 million surplus. It seems only fair that this be disbursed in partial compensation for salaries forgone. Reaction?

  4. Hi anonymous,

    As requested in the original post, could we get your name and status on campus (faculty, staff, student, alumni), please?

    Thanks very much!

  5. I hate to nitpick, but as I sit here looking out the window at the snow that is falling falling falling (and showing no signs of stopping), I'm sure the President must be mistaken. Isn't this her Winter Town Hall?

  6. Isn't this her Winter Town Hall?

    You've now ruined her punchline for Tuesday. ;)

  7. I have raised the following question with Dr Amrhein .

    Gordon Laird, in "Office of the President", The Walrus, September 2010 (available on-line) quoted an anonymous UofA professor "There's a rising terror, a culture of fear emerging within the university, ..." to indicate that the morale at our school is low. Members of our community are afraid to speak up as also shown in the University blog and other blogs. Despite my numerous appeals, most of the postings are still anonymous. People admit that they are afraid to use their names. My question: What steps is the administration planning in order to change this deplorable state at the university?

    Dr Amrhein posted his answer at Colloquy but since this is an issue of the greatest importance (above all financial turmoil) , I would like you to answer the question.

  8. I Am Anonymous ((April 14 2011 5:58).

    I'm a faculty member and no, I do not feel safe giving my name. I share the impression with some others that the senior administration of this University does not welcome dissent, and has acted in past to the disadvantage of individuals and also units that it perceives as disloyal, or as embarrassing to the University (read: embarrassing to the President or the Provost).

    In my decades at the University I have seen leadership in my faculty and above that has exhibited a real willingness to recognize the limitations of its own perspective, and has courted authentic disagreement, recognizing that this is both part of a vibrant intellectual culture and necessary to good decision making. And I have seen leadership that is brittle, defensive, and (consciously or unconsciously) treats critics as enemies. I'm afraid that I see our Provost and President as closer to the latter pole.

    Good people. But not people you want to cross. So I'm grateful for the openness to anonymous commenting here. And I would value a sincere (if that's possible), non-spun (if that's possible) Presidential response to Piotr's question much more than I'd like a response to the one that I raised above.


  9. I also do not feel safe posting under my own name. Thanks so much for raising this, Piotr! Regardless of what the President or Provost say in response to his question, the fact is that its rare to hear a Dean or Chair say anything in public that doesn't promote the Party Line. Sometimes faculty do, but not nearly as much as one hears in private expresssions of dissent.


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