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Multi-campus governance taking shape
Laurier aligns governance by academic discipline and administrative function
Only 15 years ago, Laurier was a small, single-campus university based in Waterloo. With the establishment of the Brantford campus in 1999, the university took an important step in its evolution by expanding to multiple campus locations. Now, with the Brantford campus at close to 3,000 students, and multiple locations, including Kitchener, Toronto and a possible future Milton campus, Laurier has evolved to become a mid-size, multi-campus university.
To help set the course for Laurier’s future, the Presidential Task Force on Multi-Campus Governance, established in 2010, articulated 14 consensus points on governance. The consensus points reflect Laurier’s values, culture and history, and informed the development of the multi-campus governance model, approved by Senate and the Board of Governors in 2012.
Key to the governance model is the principle that university governance be aligned by academic discipline or administrative function rather than geographic location. Functional leaders will be accountable for their activities across all campuses, and location-specific coordinating bodies will ensure that programs and services are delivered effectively at each campus.
The work has begun on putting this principle into practice.
Senate and the Board of Governors approved a report from the Brantford academic governance working group that outlines a new multi-faculty structure at the Brantford campus.
The group’s mandate was to develop models for a one-faculty, two-faculty, and three-faculty structure and to recommend one of the models. Following extensive consultation and deliberation, the group recommended that two faculties be created from among the programs currently offered at the Brantford campus. Effective July 1, the Brantford campus will be home to the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, and the Faculty of Liberal Arts.
“It was an appreciable amount of work for the members of the Brantford working group to evaluate different faculty structures for the Brantford campus, and to finally propose to create two academic faculties,” said Deborah MacLatchy, vice-president: academic/provost. “An academic governance structure is now in place which recognizes the unique programs offered in Brantford within Laurier’s definition of discipline-based faculties.”
The Faculty of Human and Social Sciences includes the Criminology, Health Studies, Psychology, and Leadership programs. Bruce Arai, former dean of the Brantford campus, will assume the role of faculty dean. The Faculty of Liberal Arts includes Contemporary Studies, Journalism, History, English, Youth and Children’s Studies, Human Rights and Human Diversity, Languages at Brantford, and Law and Society. John McCutcheon, currently acting dean of the Brantford campus, will serve as acting dean of the faculty while a full search is undertaken.
Additionally, two new associate deans will be named; one will be responsible for program development within and among faculties and the other will be responsible for academic coordination (including academic advising) of intersecting faculty activities. These two associate deans will report directly to the vice-president: academic (VPA) to reflect their university-wide mandate and to provide a day-to-day presence in Brantford for the VPA office.
In addition to creating two new faculties, the Brantford campus will see three existing faculties operating on campus this fall. The Bachelor of Business Technology Management program is offered at Brantford and affiliated with the School of Business & Economics on the Waterloo campus, and the newly approved Bachelor of Social Work will be offered in Brantford by the Faculty of Social Work in Kitchener. Masters programs in Criminology and Social Justice & Community Engagement are available on the Brantford campus as part of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
“With these significant changes to the academic structure in Brantford, Laurier has moved multi-campus governance forward a great deal,” said McCutcheon. “I’m pleased that the recommendations of the working group were accepted and we can continue to move forward as a leader among multi-campus institutions.”
To ensure administrative functional alignment across all locations, an administrative implementation team made up of Pam Cant, assistant vice-president of Human Resources; Tony Araujo, director of Campus Operations at the Brantford campus; and Wayne Steffler, assistant vice-president of Administration, was created.
The team developed a questionnaire and organizational chart template aimed at helping senior leaders and their departments consider three stages of multi-campus growth: at current student levels, with Brantford at 5,000 students, and with Brantford — and possibly another future campus — at 15,000 students.
“The purpose of this exercise was to have departments deliberately plan how they are going to deliver services to multiple campus locations now and in the future to support the principles outlined in the task force report,” said Cant. “And to do so in a consistent way across the university.”
Each department also considered three types of positions within its functional area: central institutional positions that service the entire university, campus-specific positions that deliver functions at a specific location only, and blended positions that have both a university-wide mandate and campus-specific duties. All positions would report to the functional leader, regardless of location.
The administrative implementation team reviewed and compiled the templates into a summary report, which was approved by President’s Group in early 2013.
“The process really made functional units think about how they are structured,” said Steffler. “This has brought clarity around accountabilities, responsibilities and role definitions between functions and at all locations, and provides a great road map for our future growth.”
Currently, Human Resources is working with department leaders to ensure reporting relationships within and between campuses formally align with the multi-campus plans. Multi-Campus Functional Groups (MFGs) will be established to foster cross-campus integration among departments with employees at various locations. This will give departments an opportunity to share best practices and expertise, and ensure consistent service is delivered across locations. One example is all members of a department, from all locations, participating in regular team meetings.
At the local level, Campus Administrative Groups (CAG), made up of the most senior functional leaders at each location, will foster local integration, communication and collaboration at each campus. A CAG will initially be organized at Laurier’s Brantford campus.
“As Laurier continues to grow and change, all of these structures we have put in place will need to be consistently reassessed to make sure they continue to meet the needs of our stakeholders,” said Tony Araujo.