Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Fall 2016 Town Hall Notes - Updated

Fall 2016 Town Hall Notes with Fall 2017 Updates added

Following are transcribed notes from the TRU Fall 2016 Town Hall, with the addition of annual updates on a number of items in advance of the Fall 2017 Town Hall on Nov. 7.

Fall 2016 Town Hall

President Alan Shaver welcomed attendees at 12:30 p.m. and stated the following:

  • the Town Hall is being live-streamed
  • the purpose of the meeting is to talk about challenges and opportunities
  • if you wish to speak, please state your name and affiliation
  • questions may be sent after the meeting to president@tru.ca
  • notes from the Town Hall will be distributed to Faculty Councils, Senate, the Board of Governors, and the Planning Council for Open Learning

The president introduced the vice-presidents:

  • Christine Bovis-Cnossen, Provost and Vice-President Academic
  • Matt Milovick, Vice-President Administration and Finance
  • Christopher Seguin, Vice-President Advancement

President Shaver asked people who wished to speak to stand so a microphone could be brought to them. He also indicated he would act as moderator regarding the timing of speakers.

Topic: Curriculum governance

Speaker: David Hill, Geography

“As the Chair of the Educational Programs Committee of Senate (EPC), I see issues with the curriculum process. When the process was identified as overly cumbersome and difficult, a committee was established to investigate and consultation took place which was to be transparent. The Provost at the time rolled out the new procedure for curriculum governance, and it was not transparent. In June 2015, the group investigating the curriculum governance process submitted recommendations to Senate and notice of motion was served. The matter was supposed to come back to Senate in September 2015, but there was no vote at the September meeting. The curriculum governance process recommendations have not been acted on and the process that was brought upon faculty without consultation is still in place. The current process is overly cumbersome and burdensome, which makes it difficult to create fresh, new programming and attract new students. The process needs to be quicker if we are to create new and exciting programming for students. I hope we can work together to bring this about.”

Alan Shaver responded:
“As Chair of Senate I’ve been confused and frustrated by the process.”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“The Academic Planning and Priorities Committee began to touch on this matter today. D. Petri, AVP Academic, is committed to reviewing the process through a consultative approach. We will go through the governance structures of the university that pertain to the academic governance structures in order to alleviate some of those pressure points. That consultation has already begun. When I arrived at TRU, I arrived to those curriculum governance recommendations, but I also arrived to a change in the process provincially for program approval. Even though we are an exempt institution, the province added an additional step in Step 1 of the approval process. Further, the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) currently has its processes under review. I am on the Quality Assurance Audit Committee (QAAC). We are responsible to DQAB for the Quality Assurance Process Audit (QAPA). Therefore, there is a pilot underway of a new approval process. I would like new courses and programs, as well as curricular changes, looked at with regard to the recommendations from the curriculum governance review and mirror it up to the changes we are seeing provincially. We will look at how we can move forward, and that will go through our governance processes rather than coming out of the Provost’s Office.” (A. Shaver agreed that curriculum development needs to be streamlined).

Fall 2017 Update

The new internal process for curriculum approval was approved by APPC and sent to Senate for information in February 2017. This included a major revision to the Course Sustainability Worksheet and the Programme Sustainability Worksheet and eliminated a number of steps in the internal approvals process. Further revisions to streamlining curriculum approvals were approved by EPC and then Senate in September 2017.

Topic: Thorniness of governance processes in practice

Speaker: Kellee Caton, Tourism

“As past Chair of EPC, I recognize there is a thorniness of governance processes in practice, a disconnect regarding the process on paper and how things unfold in practice. For example, because the process of changing the curriculum governance process has been slow, other matters that are hinging on that are not getting dealt with, such as the Terms of Reference for EPC. We requested a change to the membership for EPC which has not yet been addressed so the current reality is that, unless the committee’s membership is filled by one particular senator, our faculty will have no representation on EPC, the committee that votes on our curriculum.”

Alan Shaver responded:
“More faculty members and faculty senators are needed on committees.”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“I cannot speak to that particular issue in terms of what the steering committee has done. One change to the EPC Terms of Reference, in relation to student representation, went through Senate. We need to take a practical look at things and the Senate Steering Committee needs to listen to what is being said. I will speak to the chair of the Senate Steering Committee once there is one (the committee is currently without a chair), and work through how we can make that happen and speed up the process. There are currently two post-baccalaureate diplomas coming through APPC. I share your frustration. We need to prevent blockages and be responsive. I will take this back to colleagues and look at those issues “in the round.”

Fall 2017 Update

Senate approved changes to the terms of reference and membership of EPC in September 2017.

Topic: Curriculum governance process

Speaker: Derek Cook, Philosophy, History, and Politics

A former Chair of EPC, D. Cook gave historical background regarding the committee: “We had a paper system that worked very well, but there was also a desire to change the process. The new process in place is, for many, faculty unfriendly. When looking at processes, remember how the situation used to be, which was more faculty friendly and nimble. We need to decide whether to put the focus on the processes themselves or on maximizing the potential for faculty to come up with new ideas.”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“There have been changes in the past decade regarding the level of accountability to AVED and DQAB. We have a level of accountability that wasn’t there even two years ago. CurricUNET may be unwieldy but we must remember we are accountable to the province for our funding and they look to us to have these processes in place. Although this is not an excuse, some other universities’ processes take even longer than ours. As an exempt institution, we need to have such processes in place that will allow us to monitor quality assurance and our program reviews. There are ways we can look at how we implement these responsibilities within our institution and give people the resources they need to work their way through the system. For colleagues who are not aware, we have Alana Hoare and Joanne Moores who are resident experts in CurricUNET. We need to tap into their expertise and make these people available to help faculty work through the processes.”

Topic: Collaboration between Williams Lake and Kamloops

Question submitted via Twitter

“What plans are being considered to enhance collaboration between Williams Lake and Kamloops in the interest of advocating for increased governance and autonomy locally?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“There are a number of things we can be doing, including looking at how we do our broadcasting of governance committees. Part of that means making use of technologies that we have available to make things more accessible to our colleagues in Williams Lake. We also have a small working group composed of Dean Airini, Dean Murnaghan, and Ray Sanders (and will be looking for another dean), to work more closely between Williams Lake and the programming here in Kamloops. How that translates into more collegial governance processes is something we need to work through. We hope to have more concrete and explicit answers in the near future.”

Alan Shaver responded:
"In the same way the senior administration team will be visiting faculty councils, they will be planning a visit to Williams Lake to host a similar question and information session there."

Fall 2017 Update

There was a short-life working group on Williams Lake initiated in the winter of 2017, consisting of the deans of Trades and Technology (chair); Education and Social Work, and Nursing. Through the use of an external facilitator, consultations were conducted with key stakeholders including faculty and staff in Williams Lake. We are working through the confidential recommendations to find the best way forward. All faculty councils have been asked that if there are faculty in WL, all council meetings should be live streamed to facilitate the participation of WL faculty. All meetings of Senate, the Board of Governors and PCOL are live streamed. It is realized more work needs to be done to foster closer working between Kamloops and Williams Lake on the academic front and plans will be forthcoming based on the work of the working group in the near future.

Topic: TRU’s general financial situation

Speaker: David Scheffel, Sociology & Anthropology

“Can you give us a general idea of the financial picture of TRU’s operations? In the Faculty of Arts, I have been told I now have to pay $300 out of my own pocket to renew my Macintosh computer lease. Another example is we no longer have the $100/year amount we were allotted for out of pocket expenses such as office supplies. We were told it was cut because there was no budget. We used to have secretaries for the faculty. The dean has a personal secretary and an administrative assistant. We have one secretary for all the faculty members in our unit. How broke are we?”

Matt Milovick responded:
“The university is not broke. I will pass along the issue about the computer to Brian Mackay and ask him to address it with you. Under the Public Sector Accounting Board rules, we are required to balance the operating budget every year. The budget methodology was changed a few years ago in an effort to stabilize all faculties regardless of enrolment numbers. It is the deans’ purview to manage their faculties as they see fit. There are operating and labour dollars available in the budget. I can’t speak to your exact situation but we are required to balance the budget year over year and have done so. This year our enrolments are trending at more or less flat, largely because we had a bump in international recruitment. Our multi-year forecast says our next few years should be relatively flat but in two years from now we will face another challenge. The $73 million in accumulated surpluses on our balance sheet are funds that rolled over historically in part because, under the previous budget methodology, a lot of money was left on the table and wasn’t spent in operating. One of the reasons we changed the budget methodology was to ensure that was happening less. We also reduced Board reserves because that cash that was from operating was going to the balance sheet which couldn’t be used for operations. The past two years we’ve taken about $3 million from Board reserves and put them back into operations and that has allowed us to keep our head above water.”

Alan Shaver responded:
“Government funding has been relatively static for a long time. Costs are going up, yet our block grants have been staying flat. This has introduced a challenge to all the universities when trying to balance the budget. By law we are required to balance the budget so this gets serious when the costs increase and the funding doesn’t. The opportunity is that we are going into an election year. We will be lobbying the government and parties with the message that the post-secondary education system in BC is worthy of, and needs, reinvestment.”

Topic: Lack of consultation around courts outside Old Main building

Speaker: Marion Oke, Career Education

“How did the courts outside the Old Main building come about? I did an informal poll of student clubs. Students didn’t ask for it and we didn’t hear how it came about. I asked students and 9/10 said they miss the grass. We’re here for the students and they should have been consulted. This is a simple but symbolic example of lack of transparency at TRU.”

Matt Milovick responded:
“TRUSU was supportive of this initiative. For years, Recreation has said that students are under-serviced with regard to recreational facilities and this was a relatively inexpensive way to create recreational facilities for our students. International students love playing outdoor sports and this gives them an opportunity to play. All the trees worth saving were relocated. The feedback I’ve received is that the students love it.”

Alan Shaver responded:
“Several students over the years have asked me for more basketball courts. It is a good point, though. People should be told what’s going to happen and why, and that’s something I am going to try to improve going forward.”

Topic: TRU’s logo

Speaker: Deb Cousineau, TRU World

“Can we have our old logo back please, with the colours?”

Alan Shaver responded:
“I will ask the AVP Marketing and Communications, Lucille Gnanasihamany, to take note of the comment.”

Topic: Chairs’ Committee

Speaker: Mairi MacKay, Biological Sciences

“I’m the Chair of Biological Sciences and in 1993 I was the Chair of the Chairs’ Committee. We continued a process of getting a chair’s job description and equitable release for chairs in different departments. In the last Collective Agreement, a Letter of Understanding was signed to form a committee with consultative process to get this done. Where is this process at?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“I would like to work with constituent groups and hear from chairs themselves. We’re looking to move that process forward, so I hope to come to meet with all the chairs soon.”

Fall 2017 Update

We are in the final stages of sign-off between TRU and TRUFA on the chair job description and the chair release algorithm. I am hopeful that this will be completed by the end of 2017. Significant progress has been made on this front.

Topic: Student advisors

Speaker: Rob Hood, Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism

“I have experience as department chair and served as an advisor to our degree. We were forced to turn an advisor role into a CUPE position, which was very different from how we operated with advising for many years. At the time, we were told that would be standardized across the institution, which I don’t believe has happened. The reduced role and limitations of a CUPE person is a challenge. Is there standardization on the role of advising within faculties and, if not, why?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“There are two things to mention. First, in the 2015/16 TRUSU Budget Consultation, they put forward concerns regarding student advising. There was a review of student services which was conducted last academic year, and there were a number of recommendations that came forward with regard to student advising that are being considered in how we actually move forward. There are several pronged approaches to this across the institution. As a result of concerns expressed by TRUSU, the review of student services came to the fore, and their recommendations are also being considered. With regard to student services, we also need to look at the investment in technology, such as databases and apps, and how they can play a role in advising. I will take this back and speak to the people responsible for student advising, the Dean of Students and the AVP Strategic Enrolment and Registrar, about it. It is a piece of work that has been undertaken specifically during the review of student services and the recommendations of that group to the university moving forward.”

Fall 2017 Update

We are working on the implementation of Degree Works, with the deans tasked with agreeing with the university registrar by January 2018 on their implementation date.

Topic: TRUFA benefits package

Speaker: Nela Mora-Diez, Chemistry

“Is there an appetite to revise the current package of benefits provided to TRUFA members? Why are benefits not the same for all bargaining groups, CUPE, administration, and TRUFA? Our package is not competitive. There should be a committee looking after this. It has been brought in negotiations but hasn’t been dealt with.”

Alan Shaver responded:
“Noted, we will communicate your question with the HR department and get an idea of what’s going on.”

Matt Milovick responded:
“Benefits are bargained for. I can only speak to the last three years. In the last three years, the government set a mandate of a 5.5% increase over five years. Within the mandate, it is up to the bargaining units to determine how to apply that 5.5% increase, such as on wages or benefits. Benefits have to be collectively bargained for and within that mandate of 5.5%.”

Nela Mora-Diez asked:
“If there is no money to improve them, is there the option of members paying a little more to have their benefits improved? We need solutions.”

Matt Milovick responded:
“Yes, there are different ways of doing it.”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“This has to be done in the context of bargaining. The comment has been duly noted and we will see if a discussion takes place at the consultative committee of TRUFA and administration.”

Topic: New teaching schedule

Speaker: Sean McGuinness, Mathematics and Statistics

“I’ve been hearing complaints about the new schedule. The schedule came out in May and it appears no consultation has taken place prior to the release of the schedule. There were a lot of complaints that came out and then the schedule was revised. I have more student conflicts than normal. The previous schedule was working, but I understand administration opted to use software, which caused a problem. When I asked why the schedule had to be changed, someone told me it was “political.” The schedule has created problems for faculty members with children in school. The schedule wasn’t designed around such issues with parents, that had not been a priority. Will we continue to use this schedule that seems to leave a lot to be desired?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“The decision to use the Infosilem software predates my arrival at TRU and that of the registrar, Michael Bluhm. The registrar had a debriefing session with chairs regarding some of the issues, so we’ve asked for a response from him about some of the concerns and how we will move forward in the future. This may include looking at the kinds of resources we put into place for training people but also the number of manual overrides that are being requested. We have an obligation under human rights legislation to take into account caring responsibilities, whether it’s for children, elder care, or partner care. We need to know what the pinch points were from the chairs’ perspectives. This was raised at the Council of Deans meeting earlier this week. I need a written explanation from the registrar. I will take these comments back to him and report back through various venues, including perhaps updates to faculty council if that’s what faculties and schools would like to see. We need to have the people with expertise look at this, including manual overrides requested for pedagogical reasons, for instance, and then lock down the schedule early on.”

Fall 2017 Update

Greater communication between chairs and scheduling personnel have taken place over the past year and the university registrar gave an update on this topic at consultative committee in the spring of 2017. We have a Class Scheduling policy (BRD Policy 14-1) and that shapes our scheduling principles.

Topic: Funding for scholarships

Question submitted by a student via Livestream:

“Why will TRU continue as well as improve funding for students through scholarships? As cost of post-secondary continues to rise, how will TRU ensure students receive a valuable education?”

Christopher Seguin responded:
“Scholarships and bursaries are a top mandate for our campaign moving forward. We worked with TRUSU and student groups and have identified access as one of the key parts to getting an education, and academic barriers to that access. We will streamline our fundraising to ensure awards. We are going to ramp up that fundraising. Scholarships and bursaries will remain one of the three areas we focus on and we are going to put some of our top prospects and agencies toward that task. Another part of this is government relations. Alan and I have been working with all levels of government for five years to improve funding for all of our students, including graduate students and those in new and emerging programs. We will continue seeking private funding and leveraging political support to ensure access is a priority for the government. The Impact 50 Campaign is a campaign being designed in collaboration with faculty and students. It will contain scholarships and bursaries for every faculty and department in the university. Access bursaries and excellence awards through scholarships will remain a priority moving forward. I have a donor now creating an endowment that awards and retains students doing well in their second and third year, which is huge."

Stacey Jyrkkanen commented:
“Students who have to leave TRU for internship or practice and have to move to a place like Vancouver, for instance, for their programs so they can graduate, that is where things fall apart. Please keep that in mind.”

Christopher Seguin replied:
“We will, and we need stories and data like that. We base our priorities on empowering students who are facing challenges.”

Alan Shaver commented:
“It is frustrating not to have a provincial funding formula in place that takes into consideration the changes that have occurred in what we are expected to do as a university. We’re expected to provide positions from high school to university, from university into the workplace. These initiatives were not envisioned in the original block funding formula. There are also many other things we want to do for our students, and the most recent involves the sexual violence issue. We’ve hired someone to do this, but we’re not getting extra money to do that sort of thing. Work-integrated learning is also starting to become a stated priority from the provincial government. We will lobby the government to fund this type of enrichment.”

Topic: Funding for graduate students

Speaker: Courtney Mason, Tourism Management

“This question is to Christopher Seguin, regarding graduate students. This past week we were acknowledged for some of our undergraduate research. We are a research institution with nationally and internationally recognized researchers. It is clear that graduate student funding and resources are an issue, but well-funded graduate students are central to all our research programs. What is the vision and plan for funding for graduate students?”

Christopher Seguin responded:
“The funding model for TRU is 15 years old and predates TRU’s coming on line as a research institution. We missed out when the province provided $20,000/head for every graduate student in the province. We are constantly lobbying the government to look at the model and our current needs as opposed to the way TRU was when the model was created. Having faculty members speak up is good, but students speaking up is even better. We need help in lobbying. Personally.”

Alan Shaver responded:
“The university village concept has been underway for four years, and this year we will start to get our first projects. This involves leasing land for development along the same lines as UBC and SFU do. From day one, the revenues that would be generated from leasing those lands have been directed toward support of students and research. We continue to lobby heavily, both individually and through the Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia (RUCBC). We are pushing the government to establish another program of funding graduate students like the one in 2007. Three years ago, we had an opportunity agenda which came out of RUCBC proposing graduate fellowships and funding more seats. A number of provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have graduate fellowship programs that fund graduate students, who can also be eligible for tri-council scholarships. We are continuing to push for additional funding individually and as part of RUCBC.”

Topic: Accreditation

Question submitted by a student via Twitter:

“As we all know, TRU is moving to gain accreditation from the NWCCU consortium, and many of us want to know the content of the comments of the commissioners who visited TRU recently. Ever since the accreditation initiative began it has been unclear what accreditation will achieve. What was the business and academic case for seeking accreditation? What is the 'True' value?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
Accreditation has a microsite on the provost’s website that details why we’re doing this, which was also discussed at Senate. There is a much broader Accreditation Steering Committee on which all faculties are represented. We are doing this for our students. It is about continuous improvement of the quality of our programs and benchmarking ourselves against other institutions. Simon Fraser University is the first research-based institution in Canada that has received full accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The Recommendations and Commendations we received from the reviewers during their site visit to us in April, which are on the Accreditation website, are as follows (NOTE: not all the information below was read at the Town Hall but is included in the notes for clarification purposes):

“Recommendations:

  1. that Thompson Rivers University improves its definition of mission fulfillment, and, guided by that definition, articulates measurable institutional accomplishments or outcomes that represent an acceptable threshold or extent of mission fulfillment;
  2. that the General Education component of the Thompson Rivers University’s baccalaureate degree programs and transfer associate degree programs have identifiable and assessable learning outcomes that are stated in relation to the institution’s mission and learning outcomes for those programs;
  3. that data and systems essential to the operations of Thompson Rivers University be backed up in a manner that protects the data and systems from natural or human-caused disaster. In addition the committee recommends that Thompson Rivers University evaluates and implements options to sustainably replace end-of-life network infrastructure technologies;
  4. that the Thompson Rivers University continues and improves its planning to ensure that it is systematic, integrated, and comprehensive; that the planning process is inclusive and broad-based; and that the plans are informed by the collection and analysis of appropriate data and articulate institution and unit level priorities that guide decisions on resource allocation, and;
  5. that Thompson Rivers University builds upon its efforts to document student learning outcomes by developing appropriate measurements of student learning, analyzing assessment results, and implementing action plans in a cycle of continuous improvement.

“Commendations:

  1. The evaluation committee commends Thompson Rivers University’s authentic and genuine response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Evidence that TRU has embraced the report includes: the establishment of a Gathering Place; an Executive Director of Aboriginal Education who reports directly to the president; the Knowledge Makers program; the School of Nursing’s “Enacting a Respectful Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action” project; and efforts to embed Aboriginal ways of knowing across the curriculum.
  2. The evaluation committee commends the Thompson Rivers University for its commitment to fostering intercultural understanding through its robust international program and attention to the needs of its diverse student body, both of which contribute significantly to efforts to increase diversity and create a culture of inclusion.
  3. The evaluation committee commends Thompson Rivers University for ongoing improvements to the Open Learning Centre, which is well-managed and growing its enrollments in quality courses.
  4. The evaluation committee commends Thompson Rivers University for its commitment to environmental sustainability, including their early adoption of the STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) and recent achievement of a Gold rating.

“Our self-evaluation report is also on the Accreditation microsite on the provost’s website. We will be keeping Senate, the Planning Council for Open Learning, and faculty councils well-informed about the process as we move forward with accreditation.”

Fall 2017 Update

On October 10 to 12, 2017, TRU hosted a team of seven NWCCU evaluators. Finalized recommendations and commendations from this second evaluation visit are pending.

Topic: Being innovative

Speaker: Kevin O’Neil, Computing Science

“Where are we going in the future? There are new initiatives daily and our challenge is to determine what strategic initiatives we can truly act on. How do we determine this in the context of students and what they want? Where are we going strategically to differentiate this university in order to attract students? How are we defining the initiatives we need to put forward?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“There are two initiatives going on. First, we have a Strategic Enrolment Management Working Group that is looking at both recruitment and retention. The other thing that we’re looking at is how do we measure student success? My own view is that, if a student came here to do a four-year degree and left with four courses after their fourth year, but they go on to do something that they’re really proud of, that to me is student success. The Student Enrolment Management plan will go to Senate for discussion. It is about not only recruitment, but retention and alumni, because alumni are our best ambassadors. The second bit is how we deal with strategic priorities of the institution. The academic plan is due for a refresh.”

Fall 2017 Update

The draft Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) plan has been discussed at the working group and is being revised in light of comments, and will be coming forward for further discussion in the new year. All faculties and schools were asked to develop their strategic plans including hiring plans for completion in June 2017. Some faculties/schools are nearly complete with very comprehensive plans on a three- to five-year basis including objectives and SWOT/SOAR analysis. Once all faculty/school plans have been approved by the respective faculty councils, we will be able to move forward on a refresh of the Academic Plan. It should be noted that the basis for the faculty/school plans was the five Strategic Priorities of the university, the recommendations from NWCCU accreditation, and TRU’s response to the TRC Calls to Action.

Alan Shaver responded:
“The faculty are the source of academic innovation. It’s important that the departments, faculties, and schools have strategic plans. Student feedback is also important.

Kevin O’Neil asked:
“The difficulty is not prioritizing what we’re doing, but how to move to get strategically into something new and different. We’re not good at catching trends. How do we determine what is coming five or 10 years out and target that? How can we be strategic and differentiate ourselves for down the road?”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen responded:
“You are talking about strategic foresighting. Part of that is going to come through our colleagues in Institutional Planning and Effectiveness (IPE) and drawing upon the good work our colleagues in Open Learning have been doing for years. We have good resources in that area.”

Kevin O’Neil asked:
“Where are we getting innovation from?”

Alan Shaver responded:
“From faculty members. It is interesting to see what happens when faculty share strategic plans across silos and collaborate. People start to see they have common goals and priorities. Faculty members have to set themselves this goal. They need to do research on what is the future in their discipline. That’s what we expect faculty members to do. I am pleased you asked the question. It gives me the opportunity to encourage people to look for the answers within ourselves. Don’t overlook the resource our students can also bring to this matter.”

Christopher Seguin responded:
“The sources of information that faculty members gather are also important. Reach out to the external community and ask questions. Alumni who are out in the external world working in startups, etc., can help us empower our students for what’s to come.

Matt Milovick responded:
“If this institution is going to be relevant in 15 years from now, we have to learn how to be more nimble and adaptive in our processes.”

Topic: Next steps

Speaker: Les Matthews, Respiratory Therapy

“What happens now? Thank you for listening to us, I think this dialogue is extremely important. Some of the dialogue is open-ended discussion and obviously doesn’t have resolution. Some of the questions and concerns are very concrete and do have resolutions and a process that can be followed. Are there plans to publish concerns and what we’re talking about in all of the open forums so that everyone can see the questions and what’s being done on an ongoing basis, for transparency?”

Alan Shaver responded:
“The point of having this meeting minuted is so that we can see the list. Some of the list is comments, but some of them raise very concrete targets. We need to come back and say what’s fixed on the list and the status of the items. This is an ongoing process. We will be going to speak with faculty councils to get input from them. Minutes of this meeting will be shared with faculty councils. There are a number of events throughout the rest of the year, including the Town Hall on budget development, so this is going to happen over years. We will be taking these lists and be accountable to them. In some instances, we may have to say we can’t fix this (for instance, if the government does not fund graduate students, I can’t fix it). We may have to resort to other means, but that may not be possible. But we should be able to fix other things such as the program approval process. We will be standing up here throughout the year and this time next year. We will have the list with us and speak to the progress made.”

Adjournment

At 2 p.m., Alan Shaver announced that the time for the meeting was up. He reminded people to send any additional questions or comments to him. Senior administration will arrange for a response and attach it to the notes of the meeting.

President Shaver thanked everyone for attending and asking questions, which he stated were helpful for the purpose of trying to make TRU a better university.

Additional Questions

Responses to questions asked remotely but not addressed due to lack of time were posted afterwards.

Question:
"How does TRU propose to deal with the challenge of an increasingly older student population and the growing trend of students in Kamloops taking less than a full course load? How will this trend affect the university’s OL side, and is this likely to lead to even more students opting for OL courses rather than courses in classrooms in Kamloops?"

Response:
TRU attracts students of all age groups. We will be able to report on any changes in the age demographics over time when we look at the winter stable enrolment numbers to determine if there has been any discernible difference with regards to trends in the age demographics over the past few years. Based on initial enrolment data for 2016, there has been no difference between 2015 and 2016 in the course load of students both on-campus and taking OL. On-campus course load for domestic students remains static at 3.8 courses (averaged fall enrolments excluding trades) between 2015 and 2016 and at 1.6 courses for Open Learning domestic students in the 2015/15 and 2016/17 financial year to date. There has been an increase in dually-enrolled students, that is those students who are enrolled in at least one fall 2016 on-campus course and at least one Open Learning course this fiscal year to date, from 570 students in September 2015 to 692 in September 2016. This is a head count number. The reasons for this are yet unknown but there appears to be an increasing trend of dually-enrolled students.

Institutional Planning and Effectiveness is going to take a more in-depth look into this to see if there is a year-over-year discernible increase in this; which programmes, if any, there may be a trend in the activity; and determine how many of these students may be full-time on campus students taking at least one Open Learning course.

Question:
"TRUFA recently presented to the board its views on Open Governance. How does TRUFA’s call for open governance correspond to the limited involvement of OL in the governance of the university?"

a) What steps are being made to include OL?

Response:
At TRU we have a tri-cameral system of governance, consisting of the Board of Governors, the Planning Council for Open Learning, and the Senate (in alphabetical order). Open Learning Faculty members participate fully in facets of TRU governance. At the Planning Council of Open Learning, two of the voting members are Open Learning Faculty Members. At Senate, there are four senator positions dedicated to Open Learning Faculty Members, plus the AVP of Open Learning is a voting member of Senate. Finally, one of the two faculty members on the Board of Governors is both an on-campus and Open Learning faculty.

As for our Senate committees, many of them do not differentiate between on-campus and Open Learning faculty, simply calling for "x" number of faculty and/or senators. For instance, the Budget Committee of Senate membership states that there are 11 faculty or OLFMs, approved by Senate, two of whom must be senators. The Teaching and Learning Committee requires eight faculty members with at least one OLFM and one instructional designer.

A number of Senate committees specify OLFM membership, including Academic Integrity Committee (1), Academic Priorities and Planning Committee (1), and Graduate Studies Committee (1). Where Senate committees state membership includes senators, chosen by Senate, OLFMs who are senators are eligible to stand.

Full participation by OLFMs in meetings of committees is facilitated through either teleconferencing or video-conferencing facilities for members, and the live-streaming of PCOL, Senate and the public portion of the Board of Governors meetings allows the wider OLFM community to view proceedings.

b) when will the administration include OL faculty as an integral part of the academic councils?

Response:
Faculty councils are governed by the schools and faculties themselves, not by administration. Most of the faculty/school councils are chaired by faculty members within the faculty and elected by the faculty attached to said faculty or school. Deans have been requested to ensure that when there may be a discussion regarding a course that is also delivered via OL coming forward to a faculty council, that the responsible OLFMs are invited to participate virtually in discussions that may affect their course(s). This reminder will be reiterated to both deans and chairs of faculty councils.