It is customary for the the Provost & Vice-President, Academic to provide a report to each meeting of Senate outlining plans, priorities, issues and other news. As these reports are already public through the University Secretariat Office, they will also be shared regularly through this memorandum page.
Note that appendices to the report can be found on the University Secretariat Office website.
Report to Senate of the Provost & Interim President – February 9, 2022
Brock continues to make significant progress on a set of key strategic documents that will chart the institution’s post-pandemic trajectory. In November and December, an online consultation of students, staff, faculty members and librarians was fielded to gather feedback to inform the development of the academic plan. Responses provided answers to four critical questions:
- List or describe successful innovative work, projects and/or programs that you believe we should continue to grow and advance to support students in the achievement of their academic goals.
- List or describe new learning and experience opportunities that Brock should consider developing to meet the needs of our learners now and into the future.
- List up to three academic goals Brock University should have for all students, irrespective of the academic program in which they are enrolled.
- Describe up to five characteristics of an excellent academic experience at Brock.
Over 400 responses were collected, including approximately 200 from students, 100 from staff, and 100 from faculty members and librarians. Analysis of responses yielded over 80 pages of data that will help determine the themes and priority areas the academic plan will identify. Next steps in the project will involve the creation of a draft plan, followed by another University-wide consultation on the draft. I want to thank the project team, led by Dr. Madelyn Law, as well as members of PPBAC for their steady progress on this important initiative.
Work is also underway on the University’s midterm report on its Institutonal Strategic Plan, which will be brought to Senate and Board late next Fall. The report will identify successes, challenges, and areas for progress with respect to the four priority areas established in the Strategic Plan. It also provides us with a chance to reflect on how the context in which we operate, as well as the risks and opportunities it presents, has changed since the Plan was launched. Most obviously, this will include the impact of the pandemic not only on our enrolments and our financial situation, but also on the competitive environment in Ontario’s university sector. I look forward to further engagement with Senate once we have a draft document to discuss.
Finally, Brock is close to making a critical strategic purchase in the form of a new learning management system. Following Senate endorsement in Senate 693 and following the process outlined in FHB III.C.5, a Request for Proposals was issued in the Fall for providers who could meet Brock’s academic and IT needs with a LMS. Daylong presentations were made by proponents in the week of January 17. Following scoring, a motion will be brought to the Board in early March to obtain financial authorization to move forward with a purchase. Phasing in of the new product for volunteers and early adopters could then begin as early as the Spring.
I continue to work through various channels, including the Council of Ontario Universities, to ensure that Brock’s voice is heard when weighing issues of national, provincial or local import.
Following the federal election last Fall the government released mandate letters of its Ministers in December. Stated priority areas for the research portfolio include high-impact illnesses and vaccine development, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, photonics, clean technologies, IP development, and commercialized research. The federal government is also looking to expand equity in research by adding 1,000 more Canada Research Chairs from underrepresented groups and targeted support for Black and Indigenous researchers.
With a provincial election coming in June, Brock has been lobbying the government for increases to our funded allocation in key programs, including nursing and teacher education. In May 2021, the government announced that its nursing expansion would fund a cohort of 870 registered nurses at colleges and universities across the province. Brock was awarded a cohort of 100 additional students, which was the largest cohort given to any university in the province. This has allowed Brock’s funded nursing enrolment to go from 316 FTEs in 2020, to 432 FTEs in 2021 and 540 FTEs in 2022.
In December 2021, Brock was informed by the Province that we would be receiving $854,249 over three years under the Ontario Postsecondary Access and Inclusion Program (OPAIP). The funding will go towards a variety of initiatives to support students facing barriers to accessing PSE such as first-generation, racialized, and other marginalized and underrepresented groups.
Update on senior academic searches
Thanks to the cooperation of members of the Brock community and the perseverance of Governance Committee, a number of Advisory Committees have been struck and a number of significant recruitment processes have been launched which will help drive the future direction of our University for years to come.
- The Advisory Committee for the Vice-Provost, Teaching & Learning met several times before the holidays, with a job ad posted early in the new year. The search consultants have also begun a University-wide consultation to better understand what the Brock community wants from an incumbent in this new Vice-Provost role, which will in turn inform the consultant’s selection of candidates.
- The Advisory Committee for the Dean of the Goodman School of Business has transitoned from review to search. Here too, the search consultants have begun a consultation process within the Goodman School to inform their candidate selection process.
- The Advisory Committee for the Vice-President, Research has met once and has taken steps to begin the review process.
- The Advisory Committees for the Deans of Math & Science and of Education, as well as for the Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement, have also met once and have begun their work.
Overall, I expect this period of heightened search activity to last well into the new year. Again, I want to thank those faculty members, librarians, students and staff who have agreed to give their time to participate in these important processes. I look forward to welcoming some new colleagues later this year.
Reflecting the revised process approved by Senate in December, Professor Brian Power and I have brought to UPC and to SGSC the lists of undergraduate and graduate (respectively) programs set to undergo program viability review under section III.C.15 of the Faculty Handbook. While a number of programs that began the process and received deferrals last year may need to be revisited, we did not identify any new undergraduate or graduate programs that should begin viability review.
This will allow us additional time to continue working with UPC and SGSC to transition the process appropriately from administration to Senate.
As is customary, I am also including in Appendix A of this report the updated list of programs slated to complete cyclical academic reviews in upcoming years. Professor Power, who manages and coordinates internal and external quality assurance processes for the University, will reach out to affected departments to share details as the reviews approach.
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor
Provost and Vice-President, Academic