I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support during the last nine years. We have had our challenges, but despite the difficulties, we have made great progress.
I will be on administrative leave from July 1, 2012, until June 30, 2013. During my leave year I will be traveling, teaching courses at a variety of institutions, primarily in China, and spending time at some peer institutions in China, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. I am interested in better understanding general trends that are reshaping high education and research globally. I will be looking at the range of innovative concepts and ideas that universities in various parts of the world develop as a response to those changes and challenges.
The President has appointed Martin Ferguson-Pell to be Acting Provost during this next year. I know Martin will effectively lead the university in continuing the hard work begun by The Umbrella Committee (TUC) and the President’s Review Committee (PRC). Some of the work of TUC and the PRC will have an impact on the work of the Renaissance Committee, and recommendations developed by the Renaissance Committee could have implications for the work of the PRC. Martin will also ensure that the Academic Policy & Process Review Task Force (APPR) will continue its work of reviewing our rules and regulations as they apply to academic programs to ensure our students have every opportunity to achieve their full potential. University Relations, led by Debra Pozega-Osburn, will assist Martin to update the university community on progress and achievements of TUC and the APPR.
In addition, earlier this year the President had a blue ribbon committee review the structure of the Provost's office. The current structure was formed in 1998 and this was the first time it has been formally reviewed. Martin will lead the provostial team in thinking through a structure that responds to the committee’s recommendations and meets the university's needs. Before I leave campus I will begin a discussion with the deans on whether our current academic organizational structure is meeting our goals. With the deans and the academic community, Martin will continue this assessment.
During the coming year Martin will work with the vice-provosts on a number of important academic issues:
- Murray Gray will work with the deans to ensure that current centres and institutes are working well within the university to advance the U of A’s academic mission.
- Mazi Shirvani will work with the deans to delineate those of his responsibilities that are related to his role as vice-provost, from those of dean of FGSR. This in turn will create the opportunity to consider ways to strengthen the role of each Faculty in supporting and managing their graduate students, while retaining the efficiencies of scale associated with an overarching Faculty for graduate students.
- Britta Baron will organize a discussion with Martin to continue the work of UAI that will coordinate international activities across various central administrative units.
- Duane Szafron will continue and extend the Vice-Provost IT initiatives to expand the use of IT technologies in the academy using mechanisms like the Visioning Committee. The Visioning Committee will continue to be co-led by Jonathan Schaeffer and Jennifer Chesney.
- Martin will be taking on the emerging need to create an interprofessional health science curriculum within the Health Sciences Council.
- Martin will co-chair the Committee on Aboriginal Initiatives and work to implement the Gathering Place vision.
- Martin and Mazi will work with the deans to implement selected graduate student projects.
I hope you all have a wonderful year.
Carl G. Amrhein
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)