By Doug Sweet
McGill is better positioned now than at any time in a decade to align its academic priorities for the coming years with its financial resources, Provost Anthony C. Masi said in advance of yesterday’s Senate presentation on the subject.
He outlined three new objectives along with the seven that sprang from the 2006 white paper, “Strengths and Aspirations,” that was intended to chart a course for the University in the years ahead.
“We are learning from our successes, but equally importantly we are learning from those areas where we failed to achieve our objectives,” Prof. Masi told The Reporter, adding that McGill is well positioned to build on the academic strengths and priorities that were defined in the 2006 white paper.
The Provost noted that the current exercise “is not simply about shifting gears in an effort to continue to do more with less. Rather, in order to achieve McGill’s academic goals and objectives, we have to think differently about how we are going to bring together all of the University’s strategic plans and initiatives. In short, we must seek greater coherence.”
In drafting the new white paper, tentatively entitled “Achieving Strategic Academic Priorities, 2012” or ASAP 2012, the Provost is asking the McGill community to continue to strive for the objectives originally stated in 2006:
-New approaches to faculty hiring,
-Innovative delivery of undergraduate educational programs,
-Improvements in the graduate studies environment,
-Research initiatives based on McGill’s true comparative advantage,
-Quality support services
-Career development opportunities for administrative and support staff, and
-A renewed willingness to measure ourselves against the world’s best.
In addition, three new objectives were outlined in Senate documents: local, national and international collaborations with impact, diversity and a reinvigoration of McGill’s leadership in professional programs.
Senate was asked four questions:
1. What can we do individually and collectively to facilitate inter-disciplinary collaboration in teaching programs and research agendas?
2. What measures would you suggest that we undertake to ensure that McGill’s commitment to diversity is respected and encouraged in recruiting students, faculty and staff?
3. How can we encourage and support our faculty, staff and students to engage in greater outreach and community engagement in Quebec, Canada and the global environment?
4. What can we do to ensure that McGill’s administrative and support staff can contribute in the ways they are best suited to the University’s academic mission and priorities?
Those areas touch considerably on the work of the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence and Community Engagement, which is working toward the completion of a final report.
The Provost, who said he is looking for “massive feedback” from all corners of the University on the proposals brought to Senate and the Board of Governors – as well as Faculty Councils and Chairs, Deans and Directors – plans to have a final revision of ASAP 2012 by the end of the calendar year.
Notwithstanding the fact that McGill finds itself in a more difficult financial situation than it did when the original white paper was produced, Prof. Masi was emphatic that a broad-based “slash and burn” approach to budget cutting, as was done in the 1990s, is not an option.
“Today we need to look for major transformations in ways that keep the University aligned with its academic priorities, fulfill its mission to engage communities locally, nationally and internationally and to ensure McGill is applying best practices in all aspects of its operations, both academic and administrative.”