York VPs outline next steps following release of AAPR Task Force Reports

Vari Hall as seen during the early evening

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

Dear Colleagues:

Over the past couple of weeks, VPFA Gary Brewer and I have had the opportunity to receive input from faculty, staff and students at the community sessions, Senate and through the AAPR website. The input has included concerns about the utility of the AAPR and its Task Force Reports, the conclusions we should draw about the program assessments reflected in the scatter graphs and, critically, the role of collegial processes in the months ahead. While additional sessions are still scheduled (see below) we would like to address these concerns in our update to help inform the discussions and collegial exercises.

The AAPR was intended to place an institutional lens on the relative success of our programs and services in advancing the core priorities of the White Paper and the University Academic Plan using the two broad categories of quality and financial sustainability. In the case of curricular programs, colleagues commented on enrolment trends, research activities, pedagogical innovation, quality of students and other activities reflecting objectives included in our planning documents.

The Task Force Reports assessed programs and services on their relative ability to advance these priorities (or to have plans in place to do so). As a result, the scores do not reflect, nor should they be interpreted to reflect, the value or absolute score of a particular program or service. Nevertheless, the Task Force Reports provide important insights regarding the challenges that some programs are experiencing as well as insights about opportunities that might help address those challenges. Fundamentally, the Task Force Reports are intended to serve as planning tools to help find the most effective ways to support and strengthen our programs.

With the release of the Task Force Reports, AAPR is now complete. There is no planned formal response to the AAPR itself by the Faculties, divisions or the University overall. The AAPR process was and is intended to inform and provide context for our ongoing planning and budgeting processes. The University’s fiscal position, enrolment challenges, commitments to the Board as well as the changing terrain of postsecondary education (one of financial discipline, performance-based metrics, increased accountability and differentiation) all need to be addressed, and our responses to these new realities are to be the focus of a Strategic Directions Document. Broad engagement of the community is necessary to enable a collegial process fully apprised of the challenges we face, the strengths we possess and the best ideas for realizing future opportunities.

Faculties and divisions will be provided with a framework to inform their initial response documents. The University’s Strategic Directions Document will be prepared based on the input received from Faculties and divisions, and will also outline proposed processes for achieving our plans over the next several years, including the potential for pan-University working groups.

The Strategic Directions Document itself will not exist in isolation but will flow from and feed into the University Academic Plan, Integrated Resource Planning and budget planning processes at the University. The Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee (AAPRC) of the Senate of York University has indicated its intention to hold a second planning forum in April to discuss the Strategic Directions Document. We anticipate that it will then come forward to April’s Senate meeting.

Given the urgency of taking up the issues we face, but also the importance of providing sufficient time for discussing challenges, identifying creative solutions and opportunities, and weighing different strategies at the local level, the timeline for input from the Faculties and divisions has been extended until the end of February. It is expected that Faculty and division responses will be informed by input from their administrative and academic units based on their own broad internal discussions. We strongly encourage all members of our community to contribute to these discussions.

To reiterate, Faculty and divisional input to the Strategic Directions Document will not be a response to the AAPR per se but, rather, will be their own perspectives on the necessary strategic directions to respond to the challenges we face, informed by a variety of resources, including the Program Information Forms and the Task Force Reports. We look forward to working with you and to benefitting from perspectives from across the University.

Rhonda and Gary

Community information sessions:

  • Friday, Dec. 5
    Winters Dining Hall, Winters College
    12 to 1:30pm
  • Monday, Dec. 15
    Room 140, Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies Building
    12 to 1:30pm