Planning & Priorities Committee Reports
AGENDA ITEM NO: 14.1
REQUEST FOR DECISION
PRESENTED BY: Beth Bilson, Chair, Planning Committee
Co-Chair, Task Force on Changing Structures
DATE OF MEETING: June 15, 2006
SUBJECT: Task Force on Changing Structures: Discussion Paper on Schools
That Council approve "Task Force on Changing Structures: Discussion Paper on Schools"(enclosed) as the policy framework for the establishment of Schools at the University of Saskatchewan.
The latest draft of a document from the Task Force on Changing Structures, which outlined the "School" as a new academic entity for the University of Saskatchewan, was presented as a Notice of Motion for discussion to the May meeting of Council. No changes were requested in the document.
The Schools document is the work of the Task Force on Changing Structures, a body created jointly by Council and the Provost, and co-chaired by the Provost and the Chair of the Planning Committee of Council. The Task Force has undertaken an examination of structural issues relevant to the implementation of the objectives outlined in the Integrated Plan. An entire section of that Plan was dedicated to "Changing Structures" and in that section, interdisciplinary programs were the first priority. The experiences of those involved in such programs, as well as SPR results, indicate that interdisciplinary programs have been poorly served by existing structures. New forms of organization offer possibilities for the University of Saskatchewan to distinguish itself by highlighting and reinforcing interdisciplinary areas of expertise. The school model is the first of several possible new structures that will be presented for discussion by the university community. This document has been the subject of extensive discussion with Deans' Council and with the Planning Committee.
There have been entities labeled "schools" at the University of Saskatchewan, and the document contemplates that schools of this kind, which we called in the document "Professional Schools", may be appropriate as homes for certain professional programs. Much of the document, however, is devoted to the description of another kind of school, called the "Interdisciplinary School". As the Task Force conceives this kind of school, it would be focused on the promotion of interdisciplinary research and graduate programming in a dynamic area cutting across traditional academic units. A school will represent a distinctive strength of the University of Saskatchewan, and will mount innovative research projects and graduate teaching programs that will attract attention and students on national and international levels. Though housed in a college, the school would have a certain amount of autonomy with respect to attracting funding and formulating new programs.
The appendices to this document describe current thinking about how a School of Environment, a School of Public Policy, and a School of Public Health might be configured. These three proposals were initially described in the Integrated Plan and have been developing with the guidance and support of many faculty members over the past 18 months. These proposals are still in the early stages of development and have not been submitted for close review and approval. They are included here for illustrative purposes only, to give a more concrete sense of how proponents plan to use the school model, what is common among their ideas, and what variations are encompassed in the schools concept. It is the concept itself, not the individual proposal, that is under discussion at this time.
This model of schools which has been outlined by the Task Force would represent a significant change in the configuration of interdisciplinary activity, and an opportunity to create a distinctive profile for the University of Saskatchewan in a number of areas of research strength.
These issues were also discussed at a Town Hall meeting on May 10.
ATTACHMENTS: Task Force on Changing Structures: Discussion Paper on Schools and Accompanying Appendices
Schools Discussion document
School of Environment draft
School of Public Health draft
School of Public Policy draft