Posted on behalf of Michele Kramer, WLUFA President.
The following is WLUFA’s response to the Administration’s Strategic Academic Plan and it has been sent to the VP:A:
The WLUFA Executive Committee has reviewed the Strategic Academic Plan draft and has three major concerns:
- Process: Previous plans started with grassroots contributions from academic departments and programs, which were summarized by the Deans, and further summarized to form the final academic plan. This draft plan was created by VPAC and Senate Academic Planning, with little consultation from programs and departments. This departure from previous process is a concerning indication of a shift away from collegial governance and faculty involvement in academic planning processes.
- Differentiation: A main focus of the draft plan is to identify strong programs and differentiate them from presumably less strong programs, using a series of performance metrics to assess program and faculty achievement. We have many questions about this area, including the metrics used to determine the major strategic areas, its relation to the Strategic Mandate Agreement, and the fit with program priorities as identified in the IPRM process. Our main concern, however, is that this focus on identifying and rewarding some programs as more meritorious than others has troubling consequences. Laurier has many strong programs, and those strengths are not always obvious in quantitative performance metrics. The draft plan creates an unnecessarily hostile and divisive environment that forces programs to compete against each other rather than cooperate to find areas of common interest. This is a major step away from Laurier’s history as a community-focused institution and its support of creative interdisciplinary programming.
- Academics: The draft plan is light on academics. We find it disturbing that the focus of a draft Strategic Academic Plan doesn’t focus on teaching, research, and learning. Instead, the three main areas in the draft plan focus on judging departments, programs, and faculty through “defined institutional metrics,” allocating resources based on those judgements, and on attracting additional students. We are saddened to see academic planning at Laurier become an exercise in resource allocation and in “positioning Laurier in the most competitive manner possible” with government bodies who provide funding.