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Archive for September, 2012

The First 2 Weeks

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I am pleased to launch this blog space to report regularly to the polytechnic university community and to the public at large. Those of you who followed my more casual and introductory blog as I prepared for the move to BC will be happy to know that I, and all my worldly belongings plus the dog, the cat and Denise, all arrived safely, and we are enjoying our new neighbourhood of Sunshine Hills in North Delta.

We have been welcomed so nicely by so many people, and the perfect weather has allowed us to indulge ourselves in the beauty of the region. I am sure the weather has also contributed to a wonderfully optimistic beginning of the academic year.

I got off to a fast start. In between racing around to meet the movers at Canada customs, getting the dog registered and the car inspected etc., I was invited to meet all the seven faculties and to speak to them.

The Faculty of Arts and its new Dean, Dr. Diane Purvey, had me make a formal presentation, and now you may hear about the idea of an “ipud”, which I may one day regret. It is all part of me trying to share ideas and impressions that are actually worth sharing at this very early point in my tenure. There is obviously so much to learn and understand, it is quite scary to have me out and about with my “vision for the polytechnic university” when I still can’t figure out how to not trigger the alarm system when I come in early. My approach is to reflect on the mission/mandate and vision/commitments with an attempt to summarize and clarify them while leaving open lots of room for input and dialogue.

A plan is also in place for me to systematically explore the many corners of all four campuses and to visit all the academic and administrative units.

In addition to the internal welcomes, I have attended events in the community, including a wonderful event in White Rock sponsored by  Foundation Board members (with similar events to follow across the region) and the Surrey Firefighters Foundation Gala, which was a great place to meet some of the movers and shakers in that city. I was very pleased to meet with Andrew Petter during a visit to SFU Surrey, and I anticipate some good collaboration with our higher education partners in the region.

I have drafted some goals for my first year which the Board will consider on September 19th. First and foremost is the development of a strategic plan, to be approved by the Board by June, 2013. My commitment is to build on the considerable work that has been undertaken in the last few years, and to facilitate this work, I now have the Office of Institutional Analysis and Planning reporting to me directly. A draft process is already circulating, and a Task Force to advise me along the way is being assembled.

One of the highlights of my first two weeks has been to guest lecture on higher education at an EDUC 1100 class for Ann- Marie McClellan. I spoke about the Open Education movement, which is an area I have been working on for the last few years, so it was an easy lift to get together something cogent. It will be interesting to see what the class got out of it, but it was a great opportunity to meet some of our students right there in the trenches.

The first of my President’s Report to the Board has been submitted: this one is necessarily brief and includes much that happened before I arrived. My plan is to ask all Deans and other managers to submit an inventory of recent activities and changes in their faculty or division for each Board meeting so we can compile a more comprehensive overview of the work of the polytechnic university. My sense is that there is so much good work going on that we do not hear about nor share with each other. There are many potential benefits to having at hand a complete listing of the polytechnic university community’s achievements and issues as we strive to create synergies and promote our important work.

This is set up as an interactive blog, so I welcome all readers’ comments and ideas at any time.