York vice-presidents issue an update on AAPR

Vari Hall as seen during the early evening

Vice-President Academic & Provost Rhonda Lenton and Vice-President Finance & Administration Gary Brewer offer an update on the Academic & Administrative Program Review (AAPR).

Dear Colleagues:

With the completion of the Academic and Administrative Program Review (AAPR) and the release of the two Task Force Reports, each division, Faculty and individual unit has been asked to reflect on the challenges and opportunities identified in the reports, as well as other relevant documents, in preparing a response that will inform each Faculty and division Integrated Resource Plan (IR Plan). The IR Plans identify the specific initiatives undertaken by divisions and Faculties to advance the University Academic Plan and to ensure that resources are aligned with those initiatives. Collectively, these response plans will also inform an institutional strategic directions document aimed at advancing our vision, our academic priorities and our financial sustainability. We are at a key stage in our planning cycle as 2014-15 lays the groundwork at the unit, divisional and Faculty levels that will inform discussions for the next University Academic Plan, commencing in the fall of 2015. The institutional strategic directions document will provide important context in combination with the White Paper and Strategic Mandate Agreement for those discussions.

It is worth repeating that the Task Force Reports are intended to help inform our planning and decision making processes in the months ahead. They are not prescriptive; they offer an assessment of the quality and financial sustainability of all academic and administrative programs as defined by the criteria in the Program Information Forms (PIFs). Colleagues were encouraged to add whatever information they felt was relevant and important in completing the PIFs. Subsequent discussions at the divisional, Faculty and unit levels may well include other information to be considered as additional context for a response strategy.

It is essential that we collaborate on creative solutions to become stronger and respond to the challenges that we face, including declining enrolment at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Possible solutions include: strategies to better support student success; strategies on how best to support graduate programs, smaller, high-quality programs and research intensification, as well as how to scale those strategies that are characteristic of strong programs across the University; strategies on how to enhance the alignment of administrative support functions and academic priorities, and how to generate new revenue to support complement and other resource needs; and so on. The Task Force Reports provide valuable insights, but no decisions have been made about any individual programs, no matter where they may be situated on the plot charts. We have an opportunity during our response phase to draw from the reports as well as other sources, both within our own areas as well as in collaboration with other Faculties and divisions, to ensure that York is able to achieve its academic ambitions.

As executive sponsors of the program review initiative, we participated in the Senate Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee Forum on Academic Priorities on Nov. 13. On Nov. 14, we hosted the first of four Community Information Sessions to gather input on the AAPR process and next steps. We were pleased to see that both sessions were very well attended.

Three more Community Information Sessions are scheduled for Nov. 27, and Dec. 5 and 15.

  • Thursday, Nov. 27
    BMO Conference Centre (Main Floor), Glendon campus
    12 to 1:30pm
  • Friday, Dec. 5
    Winters Dining Hall, Winters College, Keele campus
    12 to 1:30pm
  • Monday, Dec. 15
    Room 140, Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, Keele campus
    12 to 1:30pm

We encourage those who have not yet attended an information session to participate in one of the upcoming meetings. They are a great opportunity for you to provide input on how the University can best use its limited resources to meet our academic aspirations as well as to raise any questions you may have regarding the reports or the process going forward. With that said, the sessions are certainly not the only opportunity you have to contribute to this important process. Time has been set aside for discussion at the November Senate meeting. Suggestions, observations and questions can also be sent to the AAPR Office by phone or website for those with access to YU Link. Meetings are also being scheduled with specific groups, such as student leaders, Faculty councils and other stakeholders as requested. Critically, there will also be rich opportunities for you to engage with your colleagues at the unit and Faculty levels as responses are prepared.

The Task Force Reports provide valuable information and insight that assist us in creating options for advancing the University’s vision and mission over the long term. At the same time, we are committed to moving forward using a variety of relevant inputs, including the reports, our financial realities, the needs of current and future students, our values as a University and the innovative ideas of our community members.

Within a community of some 55,000 students and 7,000 staff and faculty, it is to be expected that there will be diverse opinions regarding the Academic and Administrative Program Review initiative. It is therefore also likely that not everyone will agree with the results of the reviews embodied in the two reports. However, we remain confident that with broad engagement within the community, the result of the exercises ahead will be a stronger and more sustainable York University.

We will continue to update you on the planning and response process over the coming weeks and months.

Rhonda and Gary