BoG approves creation of vice-president (international and enterprise)

To avoid a net increase in vice-presidents, the vice-president (facilities and operations) portfolio will be eliminated and merged into University Services and Finance.

The last University of Alberta Board of Governors (BoG) meeting for the 2023-24 academic year took place on June 14. BoG passed a motion to create a vice-president (international and enterprise) portfolio and eliminate vice-president (facilities and operations).

At the beginning of the meeting, Florence Glanfield, vice-provost (Indigenous Programming and Research) updated BoG on the U of A’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, Braiding Past, Present, and Future. An interim report on the plan will be published at the beginning of 2025.

During the report of the president, President and Vice-chancellor Bill Flanagan said administration is in continuous conversations with faculty, staff, and students about the Palestine solidarity encampment removal. Flanagan also mentioned his lobbying efforts for exemptions from Bill 18: Provincial Priorities Act.

Motion to eliminate vice-president (facilities and operations) and create vice-president (international and enterprise) passes

Flanagan then presented on strategic opportunities for internationalization. The university’s strategic plan, SHAPE, plans to increase enrolment by 16,000 students over the next decade. Flanagan said domestic enrolment can’t grow without provincial funding.

“However, international students are self-funding, so we can grow our numbers of international students,” Flanagan said. International student growth could allow “major investments in faculty renewal, student experience, and raising the global profile of the university.”

Flanagan said if the provincial government doesn’t increase funding, the university could see annual shortfalls of $149 million in four years. The university’s provincial grant has been reduced by $222 million over the past five years.

To address the university’s revenue challenge, Flanagan said more investment needs to be made in recruiting and supporting international students. He proposed investing $1 million toward creating a vice-president (international and enterprise) office to work on international engagement.

To avoid a net increase in vice-presidents, Flanagan proposed the elimination of vice-president (facilities and operations). The portfolio would merge into University Services and Finance. The second tenet of Flanagan’s proposal was a $3 million investment toward international student recruitment.

“By eliminating the vice-president (facilities and operations) we will save over $750,000 a year. The vice-president (international and enterprise) is predominantly funded by existing resources.”

The motion to approve the proposed creation of vice-president (international and enterprise) was carried.

Third-party review on encampment removal to occur

At the May 27 General Faculties Council (GFC) meeting, a motion by Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta (AASUA) President Gordon Swaters passed. The motion recommended a third-party independent investigation into the encampment removal. The recommendation was discussed at BoG.

Board Chair Kate Chisholm said she emailed BoG members to seek approval for a third-party independent investigation before she knew of Swaters’ motion. She informally secured an agreement from BoG members to proceed with an investigation, which she confirmed at GFC.

“I committed to them on your collective behalf that we would conduct the process as transparently as we can,” Chisholm said. The final report will be publicly released. The investigation won’t look at the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers’ actions, she said, “because once the university calls the police in, we have no control over what they do.”

BoG member Ryan Hastman asked if by putting the GFC motion into action, BoG is endorsing the premise of the motion. “Or are we simply taking action on the direction?” he asked.

“We are not agreeing with that,” Chisholm replied. “That’s the purpose of the independent review.”

Undergraduate enrolment in online courses increases

Jessica Butts Scott presented on the April 2024 Impact Report for Online Learning and Continuing Education. Scott said the university has seen shifts in undergraduate student enrolment.

Preliminary data from March showed that 51 per cent of undergraduate students that took 100
and 200-level courses in 2023-24 chose both in-person and online courses.

“Students are looking for more agency and flexibility over their learning,” she said. In order to support enrolment growth and off-set enrolment capacity, undergraduate online courses are being expanded and developed.

Preliminary data from March also showed that online undergraduate class enrolments increased by eight per cent in 2023-24, compared to 2022-23. This does not include spring and summer data, which is yet to be reported.

The university will be replacing the current learning management system, Moodle — which supports eClass — with Canvas beginning fall 2024. A full transition will continue through fall 2025.

“This is really to enable us stability and to scale our operations,” Scott said.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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