BoG approves creation of Vice President (International and Corporate)
BoG approves creation of Vice President (International and Corporate)

The final meeting of the University of Alberta Board of Governors (BoG) for the 2023–24 academic year was held on June 14. The BoG passed a motion to create a Vice President (International and Corporate) portfolio and to eliminate the Vice President (Facilities and Operations) portfolio.

At the beginning of the meeting, Florence Glanfield, Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming and Research) BoG, informed about the U of A’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, Connecting past, present and futureAn interim report on the plan will be published in early 2025.

In his report, President and Vice Chancellor Bill Flanagan said the administration is in ongoing discussions with faculty, staff and students about clearing the Palestine Solidarity Camp. Flanagan also mentioned his lobbying for exemptions to Bill 18: Provincial Priorities Act.

Motion to abolish the Vice President’s card (Facilities and Operations) and introduce a Vice President’s card (International and Corporate)

Flanagan then presented strategic opportunities for internationalization. The university’s strategic plan, SHAPEplans to increase enrollment by 16,000 students over the next decade. Flanagan said in-state enrollment could not increase without state funding.

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

Flanagan said if the provincial government does not increase funding, the university could face annual deficits of $149 million in four years. The provincial grant to the university has been cut by $222 million over the past five years.

To solve the university’s revenue problem, more investment must be made in recruiting and supporting international students, Flanagan said. He proposed investing $1 million to create an office of vice president (international and corporate) to focus on international engagement.

To avoid a net increase in the number of vice presidents, Flanagan proposed eliminating the vice president (facilities and operations) position. The position would be integrated into University Services and Finance. The second principle of Flanagan’s proposal was a $3 million investment in international student recruitment.

“By eliminating the Vice President (Facilities and Operations), we will save over $750,000 per year. The Vice President (International and Corporate) will be funded primarily from existing resources.”

The motion to approve the proposed creation of a Vice-President (International and Corporate) was adopted.

Third party inspection of warehouse clearance planned

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

Board chair Kate Chisolm said she had emailed BoG members asking for approval of an independent third-party investigation before learning of Swaters’ request. She informally secured BoG members’ agreement to launch an investigation, which she confirmed to GFC.

“I promised them on your behalf that we would make the process as transparent as possible,” Chisolm said. The final report will be made public. The investigation will not look into the actions of Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers, she said, “because once the university calls the police, we no longer have control over their actions.”

BoG member Ryan Hastman asked whether, by implementing the GFC motion, BoG is supporting the premise of the motion. “Or are we simply taking action as directed?” he asked.

“We disagree with that,” Chisolm replied. “That is the purpose of the independent review.”

The number of online students is increasing

Jessica Butts Scott presented the April 2024 Online Learning and Continuing Education Impact Report. Scott said the university has observed changes in undergraduate enrollment.

Preliminary data from March showed that 51 percent of students who received 100
and for the 200-level courses in 2023–24, both face-to-face and online courses were selected.

“Students want more ownership and flexibility in their learning,” she said. To support enrollment growth and balance enrollment capacity, online courses for undergraduate students are being expanded and developed.

Preliminary data from March also showed that online undergraduate enrollment increased 8 percent in 2023-24 compared to 2022-23. This does not include spring and summer data, which have yet to be reported.

The university will replace the current learning management system Moodle – which supports eClass – with Canvas starting in fall 2024. The full transition will last until fall 2025.

“This is really intended to provide us with stability and enable us to scale our business,” Scott said.

By Aurora