Dean's Update - November 2020

Hi Applied Arts,

 

The fall term is drawing to a close—it will certainly live long in the memory. Here are few updates and reminders before November disappears.

 

2021-22 Budget Development

Our first experiment with zero-base budgeting was bumpy—really bumpy. I need to give a huge shout out to Carolyn Kauth, who somehow persevered through the spreadsheets, swirling numbers, and minute details. The budget is far from finalized, but we have a first draft together. I will be presenting it to the VPA and other deans/directors on the academic side of the institution this week. I’m anticipating that Finance will request reductions once it is submitted to them, so it’s likely I will be reaching out to program areas to discuss trimming.

 

Year End

After further deliberation, it has been decided that YukonU will not seek to shift its fiscal Year End to Mar. 31. The idea had not been approved by Yukon Government, but we were developing our 2021-22 budgets under the assumption our new fiscal year would start on April 1, 2021. The idea is not off the table, just deferred while the institution works through a number of other challenges—our response to COVID not the least among them.

 

COVID Planning

With an eye to the past week’s spike in confirmed COVID cases in Whitehorse, it is crucial as we head into the New Year for everyone to have contingency plans at the ready when it comes to the delivery of courses. News of promising, fast-tracked vaccines is encouraging, but if the second wave hits Yukon harder than the first, we could find ourselves back in lockdown. So, as I’ve said several times before, have Plans B and C at the ready—and reach out for assistance if you want advice on what those plans could look like.

 

Post-COVID Planning

Looking further ahead, we also need to start envisioning YukonU post-COVID. I know many of you want to return to in-person course delivery as soon as possible, but I encourage you to think about the opportunities that this year’s compulsory distance delivery has brought. I know there are students currently registered in YNTEP courses who would not be able to carry on their postsecondary studies without the blended online model we’re using. In future, YG will be scrutinizing our enrolment data more closely through an accountability framework—our autonomy increases in some respects when we’re a university, but our primary funder’s demand for accountability also increases. In turn, we need to find ways to increase access and bring in more students. My sense is that we need to consider continuing to deliver curriculum in blended online modes when it is suitable to do so and be more strategic when it comes to planning those elements of our programs that require in-territory residency.

 

Faculties Proposal

The proposal for the establishment of faculties and faculty councils mentioned in my last blog post will be considered by the Board of Governors at its upcoming meeting.

 

Winter 2021 Course Outlines

In preparation for the winter term, please submit your course outlines for review by 4:30 pm on Friday, December 4. To do so, just email a Word version of the outline in the current Senate-approved layout, to your admin assistant. We are compiling them centrally, and I will be (getting back to) looking them over prior to posting on the University website.

 

Timely Submission of Grades

As per our Academic Regulations, final grades for all courses must be submitted within 5 business days of the final exam or 5 business days of the last day of classes for courses without a final exam. There are a number of reasons why timely submission of final grades is crucial. Perhaps the most important is that many of our students need these grades when they apply for student funding. If you are unsure how to submit your grades, please reach out to your chair or admin assistant for help.

 

YNTEP Coordinator/Instructor Search

Keeping my fingers crossed on this one, but we’re getting closer to hiring a new coordinator/instructor for YNTEP. My thanks to Catherine Bradbury, Carrie-Lyn Robinson, and Jane Wightman for their time and care with the interview process over the past two weeks (and to Tosh Southwick and Davida Wood for their involvement during our first attempt last spring).

 

Space Planning

Applied Arts and Applied Science and Management both have faculty members and soon-to-be new hires without a designated workstation. While this is somewhat manageable during the pandemic, as we spend less time on campus, it won’t work over the long term. Accordingly, I’ve been meeting with fellow deans/directors and chairs to review and update current office allocations and develop a more comprehensive workstation proposal for Space Committee to review. I appreciate everyone’s patience as we sort this out. It is likely we will need part-time faculty to share workstations in order to accommodate everyone. I realize schedules don’t always align perfectly, but I think our recent experiment with expanded Zoom and Teams meetings can be leveraged to allow faculty to work out sharing arrangements. For my own part, I am considering how my own office could/should be used post-COVID. The ability to continue my work from home for at least half the week has been a boon in terms of balancing work and family commitments—even if it has meant video-conference participants getting to hear the Airedale lapping water in the background or the Poodle voting on Senate motions. Assuming I don’t go back to spending the full 40 hours per week in my office, a more efficient use of its footprint will be necessary.

 

As always, feel free to get in touch with questions you might have. You can email them, connect via Teams during my “virtual water cooler” times on Fridays, 9-10 am, or request a meeting via Carolyn.

 

Take care,

Andrew