University of Alberta Academic Planning 2007-2011: The Provost’s Initiative on Faculty-driven, Whole-Systems Academic Planning and its Outcomes

By Heather Zwicker and Ken Zakariasen.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

University academic planning, including that of the UofA, has most often been managed centrally. However, while widespread consultation had typically been sought, the process of reading and synthesizing all available data, and writing, obtaining feedback and revising the draft academic plan had never centrally involved UofA faculty members until 2006, when the Provost turned the process over to a working group of three faculty. He took a “hands-off” approach unless asked for consultation. Using the President’s “Dare to Discover” vision document, individual Faculty academic plans, academic and non-academic administrative unit reports, University committee and working group reports, student, faculty and staff association submissions, ideas gleaned from reviewing a large number of other University academic plans, and a variety of other documents as a database, the working group created a draft academic plan to be reviewed throughout the University. Verbal and written input from a variety of committees, other formal groups, deans, faculty and other individuals campus-wide was used to refine the draft plan. Because of substantial financial decentralization to Faculties, consensus on change had to be forged with fewer traditional monetary incentives. The consultation process was repeated until the faculty working group felt that they had essentially exhausted additional ideas, that the draft plan articulated innovative, exciting directions for the next four years, and that the draft was ready for submission to the General Faculties Council. It passed by a vote of 79 to 12. The University administration enthusiastically embraced the Plan and made significant financial resources available to pursue its objectives. The Provost’s commitment to a faculty-led whole-systems approach that encouraged engagement, innovation and ownership was key to success.

Keywords: Academic Planning, Whole-System, Faculty-Driven, Engagement, Ownership, Innovation

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp.43-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 586.898KB).

Dr. Heather Zwicker

Associate Professor, Department of English and Film Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A postcolonialist by training, I have followed my intellectual curiousity from literary to cultural studies over the 15 years since I earned my PhD from Stanford University (1993). My early research investigated the meanings of “nation” and “nationalism” for women writers from Canada and Northern Ireland. More recently, I have turned my attention to questions of university governance and administration, as well as public intellectualism. In this realm, I have edited a book on Edmonton writing (NeWest Press, 2005) and pursue creative non-fiction. I have a passion for arts of all kinds, and have helped launch “Exposure: Edmonton’s Queer Arts and Culture Festival” (2007 and annually thereafter).

Dr. Ken Zakariasen

Professor and Stream Leader, Public Health Leadership, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Ken Zakariasen is Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta and stream leader of Public Health Leadership, a new graduate program designed to train future leaders in healthcare. Dr. Zakariasen served 14 years during his career as a dean of Faculties of Dentistry and Health Professions in several different universities. He received his BA, DDS, MS, and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota, an Advanced Management Program Certificate from the Harvard Business School, and his MS (ODA) degree in Organization Development and Analysis from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Zakariasen’s academic focus is in the areas of leadership and organizational change, particularly in healthcare and universities, as well as developing ways to increase the effectiveness of health sciences educational experiences. His non-academic passions revolve around his family, working-out through various disciplines to keep his aging body fit, extensive long-distance motorcycling, and landscape design and construction.


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