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Operations review focuses on effectiveness

Feb. 12, 2014

Memorial University has commenced a process to review operations and budgets across the academic and administrative functions of the institution.

Memorial’s president, Dr. Gary Kachanoski, said that the operations and budget review is in response to a request in the provincial government’s budget for 2013-14. 

Dr. Kachanoski explained that Memorial held a series of discussions with the minister and senior officials from the Department of Advanced Education and Skills and agreed on the broad principles that would guide the work: 

  • A collaborative approach, designed, implemented and led by Memorial, and engaging the university community 
  • Comparing the university with other universities
  • Reviewing the relationship of programs to the university’s mandate
  • Reviewing administrative structures and policies
  • Reviewing sponsored research
  • Regular updates and reporting timelines

“Government has also agreed to allow us to reinvest any savings found through the operations and budget review back into the institution in the areas of academic programming, our students and other priorities,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “So the goal of this review is to be able to say with confidence and certainty that we are using our resources to advance our most important priorities.

“Through this review, Memorial University will compare our operations and budgets with those of peer institutions and ensure that they are in alignment with our mandate as the province’s only university and with our aspirations as defined in our vision, mission and core values,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “The results should be that we are better able to support the goals of the three frameworks in teaching and learning, research and public engagement, as well as forthcoming plans for enrolment management, infrastructure development and research intensity.”   

The review is being led by the president in concert with the Vice-Presidents Council (VPC), which is responsible for university operations. The operations and budget review will also be informed by a President’s Advisory Committee comprised of administration, faculty, students and staff.

The operations and budget review will be supported by a secretariat co-chaired by Prof. Andy Fisher, associate dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and Bruce Gorman, internal consultant with the Office of the Vice-President (Administration and Finance). An advisory group will support the work of the secretariat.

A process of reporting and assessing a comprehensive set of data and metrics for all areas (academic and administrative) of university activities and operations is commencing as the initial step.  

The university’s provost and vice-president (academic), Dr. David Wardlaw, is leading the academic portion. He has struck a committee, chaired by Sheila Singleton, university registrar, pro tempore, to gather and undertake the analysis of data derived from the full spectrum of activities associated with academic activity.

Examples of such data include enrolments and degrees awarded at the degree program level, class/section sizes, distribution of teaching tasks among permanent, contractual, and adjunct faculty, academic success data (retention and graduation rate, time to completion, number of degrees per FTE student), and any other relevant information. The academic data committee also includes Leslie Noftall, registrar, Marine Institute; Sharon Noftall-Bennett, registrar, Grenfell Campus; Keith Matthews, associate director, Academic Budgets (Office of the Provost); Paul Chancey, director, Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning; and Su Cleyle, director, Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support.

Kent Decker, vice-president (administration and finance), is leading the administration portion of the initiative. The firm Ernst and Young has been brought on to undertake data collection and analysis relating to the administrative functions throughout the university, including ancillaries and separately incorporated entities. An administrative data review team will be assembled to work with Ernst and Young to review and validate the data collected.

Dr. Kachanoski noted that more information on the operations and budget review will be forthcoming as this multi-year process unfolds.

“We will be looking systematically at all major university operations and associated budgets.”

He noted that the university community will receive regular updates on the operations and budget review through university communications channels.