to the University
update on the Academic Plan
by President Harvey Weingarten
3, University of Calgary President Harvey Weingarten met with faculty
members, staff and students to provide a “Report to the
University.” The following are edited excerpts from that presentation.
written text is available at www.ucalgary.ca/academic-plan/agm-june3-04.html
is fair to say that the last little while has been a time of
change at the U of C. We have many initiatives
moving forward and given what we have accomplished so far we
should be optimistic about the future.
informal comparisons I have made with some of my colleagues,
I think it is also fair to say that the University of Calgary
is moving ahead as fast as any university in the country.
the first logical question you might ask is: “Why change?” Why
do we need to contemplate or entertain any change? To me, the
answer is obvious. The world that universities operate in now
is dramatically different from the one we have known for some
have an unprecedented growth in demand for university education
at a time that our resources are remarkably strained.
are carrying a larger share of the true cost of their education.
They are paying higher tuition, graduating with increasing
debt loads and, perhaps consequently, being very
clear with what
they want from us – a quality academic experience,
accountability, and – whether we like to hear
it or not – preparation
for well-paying jobs.
are under increasing scrutiny from the public and government
for the public dollars they give us – even
though the university now receives only about 30
per cent of its revenue from public
are supposed to cherish our role as a place of contemplation
and higher learning but also embrace our role
as an economic driver.
are a public institution, but we are supposed to be thoroughly
enmeshed with the private sector.
workloads are increasing. We are increasingly dissatisfied
with the quality of our teaching experiences.
unhappy about the way that the public supports
us, both financially
skeptics are right – I suppose we don’t have
to change. But, as Alan MacDonald reminds me in every email,
with a quote from quality guru W. Edwards Deming – “It
is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
change we must. But, we are a university and we cannot, and
should not, change willy-nilly
in every direction
every social commentator, politician, or
university administrator might suggest.
we plan and decide on our direction of change and once we do
that we move boldly
our Plan. It was only two years ago – April 2002 – that
the framework for the Academic Plan was approved by General Faculties
Council and only a little more than a year ago — February
2003 — that the Academic Plan Advisory
Group recommended an action plan.
Academic Plan leads us down some roads and not others. It helps
us make choices.
we will look like as a university as
we go down the roads it suggests.
know I am a biased observer but, in my view, the Plan is
working. I base this judgment on successes we have had
the Academic Plan in the short time that we have had it as
are some of our major achievements:
Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy
under Robert Mansell was formally launched last
fall. As we
had hoped, it has served as a focus for the recruitment and
retention of some key faculty. Our investment in this
Institute – about
$1.8 million over two years – has already leveraged
considerably more research funding for scholars in the
in the Institute than we would have otherwise received.
it is not just getting more oil and gas out of the ground.
It is also about making discoveries that improve
The U of C is working with the City of Calgary to create
a unique research facility that will allow for studies
of innovative approaches
to water and wastewater treatment.
project will propel us to national and international leadership
in these areas when the treatment plant opens
in December 2007.
year, Curtis Eaton agreed on an interim basis to lead the
planning for the Institute for Advanced
be handing over the reins to Ken McKenzie who has
agreed to take on the longer-term responsibility starting
also launched the Institute for Quantum Information Science,
the Language Research Centre, and the O’Brien Centre
for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, and
we have asked Susan
Bennett to lead our conversations around projects
we should initiate in the area of Creativity in the Arts.
Academic Plan also serves as the compass for the development
of new academic programs or initiatives
such as the:
Student Research Program in Bone and Joint Health, which
involves collaboration among the faculties of engineering,
kinesiology, medicine, nursing, and science.
Biomedical Engineering Specialization in the Faculty
of Engineering program that provides a research experience
in training engineers
in a rapidly expanding field.
Work has developed a new two-year master’s program
for students with any degree other than
a Bachelor of Social Work; it is the only one of its kind in western Canada.
fall saw the launch of the Nurse Practitioner Program
in one of two rounds of Access funds in the last year.
September saw the launch of the Bachelor of Health Sciences
program running out of the O’Brien Centre.
Faculty of Science has a new degree program in Natural
Sciences, which will enable students to obtain a degree
math and sciences.
University has established the iCore Chair in Quantum
Information Science. We now have a $2 million G8 Legacy
Chair. In partnership
with the Alberta Children’s
Hospital Foundation we have recruited
a joint professorship in Family
be clear. The focus provided by our Academic Plan is allowing
us to secure a share of resources, government and
otherwise, at levels we otherwise
would never see. We have secured a disproportionately high
share of provincial government
and infrastructure funds in the
last several rounds.
results, most surely, from the quality of the proposals
reflects the fact that
people see and understand our
Plan, they like it, they see us
living up to it and they are
prepared to support it.
another example, this year we raised more in donations – philanthropy – than
in any other year in the history of the U of C, including those
years during which we were on an active campaign. We set a target
of $25 million – we exceeded it. Our fundraising success
is also directly related to people’s
view that we have a plan, it
is a good one, and we are committed
are our next steps?
launched the Urban Campus Initiative in partnership with
our sister post-secondaries, the City of Calgary, the
Health Region, Kahanoff
Foundation and others. A priority for the U of C must
be the search for more space. But from a community
perspective, our role
in kick-starting development in the east end of Calgary’s
urban core, and all of the associated economic and social
issues, is equally important.
Campus Calgary Digital Library, a new information and
learning service for the post-secondary institutions
and lifelong learners
of greater Calgary,
is just one example of the strength of the University’s
commitment to multi-institutional initiatives. It is
our top capital priority and will mean that for the first
time, the public
will be able to tap electronically into the
access data from
around the world
for business, education
building for ISEEE. The logic of ISEEE depends critically
on a space to allow scholars from different disciplines
to rub shoulders,
challenge and learn from each other.
I’ll admit that I am bullish on the U of C. I came here
fully cognizant of
the problems universities face and the particularly difficult
problems that were going to be faced by the university
in the near future.
But, I am struck by the potential and capacity of this place.
although I acknowledge the problems of today,
I choose to
focus on the
and work to
fix some of our inevitable
failures and missteps,
I celebrate our successes.
I recognize that we need to do
public or government,
I come to work every
day enthused and
comforted by the fact that
all of you, are
the citizens and
leaders of our country.
full text of President Weingarten's talk is available at: