USFA e-Letter: “Administrative” Innovation Initiatives

A few years ago, senior administration clawed back unit budgets to the tune of $10 million, claiming it was necessary to deal with the global financial crisis and, amongst other things, to shore up the pension plans. These budget reductions were difficult for units and resulted in cuts to academic programming. A change in legislation and increases in contributions have eliminated the crisis with respect to pensions, but what’s happened to the money? 

One splurge is the recently announced so-called “Academic Innovation Initiatives” (http://www.usask.ca/ip/inst_planning/whatis/pcip/academic-innovation-initiatives.php), where the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) committed $2.5 million in permanent ongoing funding to several initiatives. These initiatives include such things as:

  • –       The University Learning Centre and Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness to “support new efforts in curricular innovation”
  • –       The office of the VP Research to lead the implementation of an undergraduate program in research
  • –       The VP Advancement to create a new office of community outreach and engagement.

 Innovative or not, none of the permanent funding announced is directed to academic units, where curricular innovation, undergraduate teaching, and community outreach and engagement is implemented. This looks like cutting academic initiatives to create administrative initiatives.  When will it stop?