Back row, from left: Jacy Lee, Laurie Anderson, Anita Stepan, Daniel Shapiro, Wade Parkhouse, Norbert Haunerland, John O’Neil, Nimal Rajapakse, Bill Krane, Joanne Curry, Louise Paquette, Mario Pinto, Gayle Myers, Tim Rahilly. Front row, from left: Ken Steele, Jay Black, Jon Driver, Kris Magnusson, Cheryl Geisler, John Craig, Helen Wussow, Claire Cupples, Charles Eckman, John Pierce, Sarah Dench, Jan Sanderson, KC Bell, Lynda Erickson, Andrew Petter, Glynn Nicholls.

Deans' planning retreat

June 23, 2011

A year into SFU’s current three-year academic plan, VP Academic (VPA) Jon Driver and the University’s 11 deans gathered for a daylong retreat April 20 at Burnaby’s Shadbolt Centre to discuss the plan’s progress and identify areas needing attention.

But unlike previous annual retreats, President Andrew Petter and some 20 others who work closely with the deans and the VPA to support academic units and develop new initiatives also participated.

They included senior staff from the VPA’s office, the VP and Associate VP Research, the Director of Academic Relations, the Chief Information Officer, the executive directors of the Surrey and Vancouver campuses, and the accreditation team.

“This was a very different kind of retreat,” says Driver, “where the deans were still the key people in the room, but with a lot of other people there who contributed in their own areas of expertise.”

The day’s program centred on the academic plan’s five themes— high quality student experience; teaching and learning in a research university; research intensity; the university’s role in the community; and financial sustainability and institutional strength— focusing on implementation issues around each theme.

The respective theme team leaders first gave a short summary of what had already been accomplished in achieving plan goals and objectives and then each of them asked the participants to consider questions on which their group needed advice.

The participants then broke into sub-groups to discuss the issues/questions and reported back to the whole group 30 minutes later. The process was repeated for each of the five themes.

Guest speaker Ken Steele of the Academica Group, author of the daily Top Ten, spoke at lunch on the trends in higher education and discussed some lighter, humorous education issues at dinner.

“It was a fairly heavy workload for a single meeting, but I thought the energy level stayed remarkably high,” says Driver.

“There was always the danger that if you bring too many people together the voices of the deans would get swamped, but I don’t think that happened. We covered a lot of ground and some very interesting and creative ideas emerged.”

The theme teams are now coming up with action plans based on some of the issues raised at the retreat.

“Once we have a set of priorities I will take these back to the deans and we will discuss what should be at the top of the list for the next year to two years,” says Driver.

“And then the staff in the VPA’s office and possibly others, such as the Registrar’s office or Graduate Studies, will work with the deans to implement them.”

The envision>SFU campaign launched by President Andrew Petter (left) embodies many of the themes detailed in the accreditation self-study document co-written by professor emeritus Lynda Erickson (right).
Helen Wussow, Dean of Lifelong Learning, led the Financial Sustainability and Institutional Strength theme plenary discussion on revenue generation.
Chief Information Officer, Jay Black (left), Applied Sciences Dean, Nimal Rajapakse, and AVP Students, Tim Rahilly, during one of the plenary sessions that addressed three questions related to each of the academic plan’s five themes.
Graduate Studies Dean and research team leader, Wade Parkhouse (above), opened discussions on Research Intensity with questions related to research and teaching & learning, research competitiveness, and research and the community
More than 30 of SFU’s senior administrative staff and deans gathered at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby in April to discuss a wide range of issues related to both the 2010–13 academic plan and the accreditation project.
VP Research, Mario Pinto (left) and Academic Relations Director, Gayle Myers, listen to a discussion of the academic plan’s five themes— high quality student experience; teaching and learning in a research university; research intensity; the university’s role in the community; and financial sustainability and institutional strength.
Taking a break from their planning deliberations are (clockwise from left) SFU Surrey Executive Director, Joanne Curry; VP Academic, Jon Driver; AVP Students, Tim Rahilly; SFU Business Dean, Daniel Shapiro; and Communication, Art & Technology Dean, Cheryl Geisler.
Faculty of Science Dean, Claire Cupples led the “University’s Role in the Community” theme discussion on integrating community engagement with teaching and learning
Participants broke into plenary sub-groups to discuss related questions and issues after listening to short summaries of accomplishments in each of the academic plan’s five theme areas.
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