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Expanding Horizons
(1990 - 2009)

6

AN INTERNAL WHITE PAPER

    In late 1989, Dean Jean-Louis Malouin produced a White Paper (referred to in Chapter V) which was to create a flurry of activities – the establishment of committees, discussion papers, studies on students, organizational changes, et al.  One aspect of the proposal was the creation of two subcommittees – the Strategy Subcommittee (SSC) and the Human Resources Management Subcommittee (HRMSC).  While Jean-Louis Malouin chaired both groups, the members of the SSC committee were Roger Smith, Bob Korkie, Mike Gibbins and Bob Hinings;  HRMSC committee members were Ivan Ivankovich, Dave Jobson, Rolf Mirus, Ray Rasmussen and Tom Scott.  On July 12, 1990, Jean-Louis issued a short four page report on the work of the two committees, which was eventually merged into a Joint Committee on Strategy and Human Resource Management (JCSHRM).  However, prior to the merger, the two Subcommittees presented a number of principles which concluded that the Faculty
was moving from a relatively sheltered environment with more abundant resources to one characterized by a more competitive market for its output and by financial stringency, i.e., greater competition for resources of all types;

financial constraints are not likely to abate in the near future;

the business community is a source of potential funding and a critical political lever with the University and the Province;

future initiatives designed to help us ‘outgrow’ our problems would depend very heavily on the political as well as financial support of the business community.

without changing the academic orientation of the Faculty or diluting its research thrust, the Faculty must, therefore, pay more attention to its business stakeholders.

we cannot be excellent in every aspect of management education.  To facilitate recognition of our strong points, it would be useful to emphasize existing research foci or to develop new ones in several areas. 
      
The SSC agreed on the following principles to guide the development of a realistic strategy:

the Faculty should maintain its orientation toward high quality academic research;

a greater effort should be made to make the Faculty, its activities, and the contributions of its staff known to the community;

connections between teaching and research and community service and research should be maximized;

organizational flexibility should be the key approach to the changes required to implement our objectives;

Faculty decisions in human resources management should be consistently directed toward the realization of its goal in research achievement and the maintenance of teaching excellence; the maintenance of quality is the prime consideration.

HRMSC concluded that

the decision process for increments, tenure, promotion, is perceived to be conducted fairly without systematic bias but perceived to be oriented toward research and the total contribution of a staff member is not considered;

the current HRM process appears to be fairly rigid and unidimensional (sic), and does not make full use of the many talents available to the Faculty;

student evaluations are not a perfect measure of course content;

time spent improving teaching, in administration, or in community service, e.g. consulting, is not rewarded and as a result these areas suffer;

tenure appears to be denied almost only for research inadequacies and may be explained by the lack of a good teaching performance indicator;

the emphasis on research of a more theoretical nature concentrates on only one facet of the Faculty’s total workload and on only one type of research.  Applied research is downgraded.

the emphasis on the development of expertise in a highly specialized academic area in order to obtain promotion does not encourage the development of breadth in our staff.

[ASOB, 06/20/07]

On September 28, 1990, Jean-Louis circulated a number of documents under the general heading, Strategy Paper, to all academic staff and then, on October 3, 1990, these were also sent to all student groups.  The Paper actually consisted of three parts, a two page introduction by the Dean, a two page assessment of the Faculty’s Strategic Position and an eight page draft copy of a Faculty Strategy Paper.  While there is considerable overlap between the various documents, there are four themes:
Staff – the need to reach a critical mass (85-90) in an increasingly competitive market;

Students – increased competition for good students;

Financial Support – with government funding shrinking, there was the increased need for external funding;

Visibility – to increase the awareness of the Faculty’s research and teaching to a wider audience.

The third report relied heavily on the work of the Human Resources Management (HRM) Committee which emphasized the need to retain excellence but stressed the need for greater flexibility in utilizing staff strengths in different areas.  The Committee also noted the need for increased synergies between research activities, teaching capabilities and stakeholders.  The Report then goes on to provide specific areas which required changes – beginning with a review and possible revisions in the BCom programme and, ultimately, the MBA and MPM programmes.  [ASOB, 06/02/07]
At the 293rd meeting of Business Council, October 16, 1990, a modified version of the HRM Committee Report referred to above was presented as a motion
THAT Council approve the recommendations contained in the Strategy Paper prepared by the Strategy Sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Strategy and Human Resources Management.
   
Given the lateness of the hour and since the motion had not been properly introduced, it was suggested that the Strategy Document be the first agenda item at the next Council meeting, scheduled for November 15, 1990.  The proposed motion, in turn, triggered a number of concerns and criticisms expressed by Faculty members as will be noted below.  While, formally, the motion to approve the Strategy Paper was to be discussed at the November 15, 1990, meeting, an introductory paper was circulated at this October 16 meeting.  Included as Appendix A in the minutes, the report was titled THE STATE OF THE FACULTY and presented by Jean-Louis Malouin.
    Highlights from this four page document were as follows:
The Faculty is academically excellent with strong teaching and strong research, BUT it is not very well known.

The Faculty has strong support from the community, BUT its academic activities are not well understood or perceived to be especially pertinent for the business community.
 
The Faculty has enough soft funds to provide a reasonable level of teaching and research support, BUT they are not being replenished.

The Competitive Edge Campaign has provided the Faculty with an invaluable asset for maintaining and improving its academic excellence, BUT in the current market for good business academics, the majority of the Chairs will be difficult to fill without significant additional funding from Faculty resources.

The Faculty has excellent staff, BUT it does not have a critical mass.  Recruiting success dropped sharply in 1988/89 and Faculty funds for new hires are restricted.  Some areas are inadequately covered.

The Faculty’s administrative systems appear to work well, BUT the “average” faculty member is not very involved in what is going on.

The allocation of resources in the Faculty is reasonably fair, BUT very little is known about the process by which these decisions are made.

The Faculty has an impressive array of research interests and activities, BUT there is little synergy among them or between research and teaching.

As a result of the Committee’s work, Jean-Louis referred to a number of activities undertaken:

Based on the objectives of each department, Department Chairs were able to elaborate sensible staffing plans and act on them.

A new budgetary process was developed to provide a better picture of our overall financial situation, to integrate financial decisions about all our activities, and to systematize the resource allocation process.

Funding for two Chairs was negotiated with donors.

A plan for the reorganization of the Faculty was developed and is now being implemented.

Strategic planning to provide a framework for evaluating opportunities and taking action to correct deficiencies was begun last spring.  Its first stage has been completed and has now been put forward for your consideration.

Opportunities being investigated are:

a partial MBA program at Fort McMurray;

a Masters program in accounting information systems;

a Masters program in taxation;

the Canadian Institute for Retailing and Services Studies;

a centre for research in real estate;

junior and senior NSERC/SSHRC Chairs in total quality management with the Engineering Faculty;

re-examine both graduate and undergraduate programs;

production of a new communications vehicle, The EDGE, is underway.

It would be fair to state that the distribution of the various studies led to a plethora of paper over the next two years with literally dozens of reports, memos, notes and letters from committees and individuals, et al.  For obvious reasons, these will not be duplicated in their entirety but a number of items will be referred to in order to provide some idea as to the variety of opinions on how the Faculty should be organized to better pursue a strategy of growth.  In November 1990, two documents were circulated.  One, ‘Goals and Objectives,’ was prepared for a Faculty Retreat which was scheduled for November 7 – 9, 1990.  The second, a ‘Faculty Strategy Paper’, was prepared by the Strategy committee and approved by Business Council on November 15, 1990.  Both documents re-iterated a number of recommendations which had been at the centre of the discussions thus far.  The ‘Goals and Objective’ paper, for example, stated that two goals were of particular importance to the Faculty:
.. To be recognized for its research program as the foremost in Canada and    among the best internationally; and
        .. To maintain its commitment to excellent instructional programs.
Both of these goals, it should be noted, had originally been approved by Business Council in 1988.
The paper then went on to spell out, more specifically, a number of recommendations.  In brief, these were:
To improve communication with the external community;
To improve the use of the Faculty’s Human Resources;
To review and revise the BCom, MBA and MPM programs, with a number of changes to be considered.  These included:
- accepting only transfer students into the BCom program;
- offering specialized BCom programs such as Asian Studies;
- provide a Master’s degree in Taxation;
- establish a co-op program for MPM students;
- providing part of a MBA at other locations such as Ft. McMurray and Hong Kong.
                         4.   To create synergies between teaching and research emphasizing more     flexibility in programs and the further development of entities such as the Canadian Institute for Retailing and Service Studies.
[ASOB, 06/20/07]
The Faculty Strategy Paper repeated a number of the points outlined above but went into more detail with reference to some specific issues.  For example, to expand communication, it was recommended that Faculty should spend more time and exert greater effort in presenting information on their research activities to outside groups and agencies.  It was also noted that more recognition and rewards should be given to Faculty members who, without diluting their teaching and research, would have their ‘… performance in the communication area be considered in promotion and increment decisions.’  The report concluded,
“There are four major thrusts to the strategy outlined above:

--  to continue to emphasize excellence in teaching and  research;
--  to emphasize communication with our stakeholders;
--  to increase flexibility in the use of our human resources and;
--  to use our resources more effectively by nurturing synergy among our various activities.

The intention behind our recommendations is to encourage people to make adjustments which ensure that we, as an organization, maintain an ongoing commitment to excellence in a time of resource constraint and intensified competition among academic institutions.”

[UAA, 99-23, Box 92]
At this 294th meeting of Business Council on November 15, 1990, the motion to approve the recommendations presented at the previous meeting was again introduced.  After a relatively short discussion, but with a number of major concerns being expressed by some members of Council, the motion was carried, and the ‘Faculty Strategy Paper’ was approved at this meeting.

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"My own impression is that we should look forward in the not distant future to some organization corresponding to a School of Commerce of which this might very well form a part. Commercial Departments in connection with Universities have so far not been successful in Canada, although I believe that after some years now the one at McGill is making some progress."

- Dr Tory, First President of the UofA
16 January 1919