VPs issue an update on the Academic and Administrative Program Review

Vari Hall

Vice-President Academic & Provost Rhonda Lenton and Vice-President Finance & Administration Gary Brewer have issued the following update on the Academic and  Administrative Program Review:

With about 1.5 weeks left until final Program Information Forms (PIFs) are due, authors are nearing the completion of the Data Collection Phase of the Academic and Administrative Program Review. In order to ensure approvers have sufficient time to review completed PIFs, Units/Faculties generally set an internal deadline of June 21 for authors to submit Draft PIFs to their approvers. Authors and collaborators are working together to complete PIFs for 422 Academic and Administrative programs.

Our Own Approach

Of late, other Canadian institutions have been in the public eye for the program reviews they have undertaken. A priority for York from the outset has been to establish a collaborative and collegial process that would inform our AAPR. Over the past six months, community information sessions have been hosted to seek input, presentations to Faculty Councils and Senate have been made, and draft documents have been circulated in order to ensure that the wider community has been afforded multiple opportunities to shape York University’s AAPR. In fact, timelines have been shifted to provide for more extensive community consultation and input to help ensure we developed a “made-for–York” process that addressed many issues identified by our colleagues or other institutions.

Throughout the data collection phase a significant amount of support has been provided to authors by local coaches, dean’s offices, administrative and academic unit staff, the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis (OIPA) and AAPR resources to assist in the completion of the forms.

We knew early on in the AAPR process that a narrow implementation of the Dickeson approach to prioritization would not be appropriate in the York context. We needed to ensure that collaboration was part of our process. Therefore we have, and continue to welcome any questions or feedback. To date many authors have provided suggestions and feedback for consideration by the AAPR Steering Committee as we look forward to the next phase of AAPR.


In broad strokes, York’s AAPR has four significant phases as follows. The first design phase took approximately a year beginning in the spring of 2013 to the release of the PIFs in March 2014. The second data collection phase began with the preparation of the data information forms in January and concludes with the submission of the PIFs June 30.  In the third phase, between July 1 and October 31, the Academic and Administrative Task Forces will conduct their assessment of the PIFs and prepare Reports for release in November. Each report will provide an institutional scatterplot that will show the relative scores for each program or service on the two dimensions of quality and financial sustainability. In addition, the reports will provide insights (best practices, challenges) about programs or services, as well as recommendations about potential opportunities to pursue in the next phase. The final phase will begin in November, 2014 with the detailed analysis of the Task Force Reports by the community, consultations and discussions, followed by the development of unit, Faculty and institutional response plans.

Academic and administrative units will consider the implications of the observations and recommendations that have been made by the Task Forces, including assessments of their programs or services, and prepare specific responses that will eventually be integrated into an institutional plan that sets out strategic initiatives for the University. We anticipate a generous response period that will take us into the new year 2015. Further to that is our commitment to a collaborative and transparent process that adheres to our bicameral governance structure in the development and implementation of our local and institutional plans. This is the first Canadian postsecondary program review, that we know of, that is promoting the input of all community members on the response phase.

Funding for Strategic Investments arising from AAPR

It is expected that the June 2015 update to the University’s multi-year budget plan will be significantly informed by the final phase of the AAPR process, with the identification of specific strategic investment opportunities arising from the AAPR process. In order to provide funding for these investment opportunities, the 2014 budget plan update, which will be considered by the board later this month, explicitly identifies a significant funding allocation for strategic investments that are anticipated from the AAPR.

An incredible amount of effort, delivering promising results

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize the great effort that has been put forth by the York community to ensure timely completion of Program Information Forms. The fact that this is taking place during a busy time for both the academic and administrative colleagues alike makes the feat even more remarkable. We want to assure you that there is value in what we are doing, and it will have an impact on the University and its plans. Each community member is being afforded the opportunity, through PIF collaboration and completion, to provide input and to shape the direction of our institution. We appreciate your effort and support, and commit to using the valuable information being collected in program PIFs to shape the future of York University. We can all be proud of the commitment that we have made to review and to improve what we do in order to strengthen our institution and fully realize the potential of our mission and University Academic Plan.  We thank everyone for their continued input and collaboration on this important initiative.

Please continue reading more on the AAPR Process, and next steps for our community on the AAPR YU Link site.