Campus Life

Open Mike — Approaching end of semester, town hall wrap-up

It may be hard to fathom but we are rapidly approaching the holiday season and the end of our fall semester. And while the calendar doesn’t lie, without the annual markers we’ve become accustomed to, it almost doesn’t seem real that the end of 2020 is just around the corner.

We are creatures of habit and in these times, many habits have been altered, postponed or outright cancelled, and we miss them. The annual surge of adrenaline as our campuses are bustling with students each September, the daily look at our fall foliage in the river valley, the energy of club rush week, the excitement of Pronghorn Athletics returning, Halloween decorations flipping to holiday trees as we approach December — all have changed or disappeared altogether.

What will not change is our commitment to each other and the strength of our University community. As we approach the holiday season, it’s essential to be mindful of our mental health, individually and collectively. Isolation and loneliness are real concerns throughout this pandemic and the holiday season may be especially difficult for some this year. I urge you to stay connected, to reach out to your colleagues and let them know that even if we can’t be together, we are together.

At this time of year, we would already be planning staff holiday events and while that is not possible in terms of in-person activities this year, expect some announcements in the coming days detailing some fun and interactive initiatives we will be introducing to celebrate the holiday season together.


I want to congratulate personally this year’s recipients of the President’s Awards for Service Excellence, Catharine Reader in the Administrative Professional Officer (APO) category and Ron Schreiber, our Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) recipient. Along with Catharine and Ron, this week we also celebrate virtually the recipients of the Board of Governors Teaching Chair, Ute Kothe; Distinguished Teaching Award, Shawn Bubel; Speaker Research Award, Bryson Brown; and the Senate Volunteer Award, Mary Dyck. I wish we could gather to celebrate the vast contributions they have made to the University and look forward to the next opportunity I will have to speak with them personally.

Town Hall

Thank you to those in our campus community who attended the recent virtual town hall on October 29, 2020. At its peak, we had over 600 participants engaged in this online forum.

As we were not able to respond to every submitted question during the town hall event, the questions have been compiled, answered and posted on our budget website. There were many questions pertaining to the exploration of a possible partnership with Navitas. As such, an FAQ based on the first round of consultations has been created to add clarity to the exploration process.

Consultative events such as these are critical in ensuring we effectively respond to the challenges our University is facing – specifically those pertaining to the budget and COVID-19. Such strong attendance indicates we are all invested in the important work ahead that will ensure the U of L continues to move forward.

A key town hall topic was the continued need for transformation in response to the significant continued reductions to our Provincial Operating Grant. To facilitate this necessary transformation, the University has established 21 task forces aimed at addressing the challenges relative to these significant budget realities.

Prior to the completion of the task forces' final reports, there will be an additional consultation process in which an independent consultation committee will review and comment on the preliminary summary of considerations of the ongoing Task Forces. The independent review committee will consist of academic staff members, AUPE and APO staff members, exempt support staff and students. Those leading the task forces will share any feedback received from the independent consultation committee with the membership of the applicable transformational task force for consideration prior to finalizing their report and recommendations. The Team Lead(s) will fairly reflect the recommendations of the independent consultation committee in their final report to the applicable senior administrator.

In addition to consultation with the Independent Consultation Committee, consultation on the findings, options or recommendations made by the task forces will also take place with the appropriate governance bodies within the University, including General Faculties Council, Faculty Councils, and the Board of Governors.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Lethbridge strives to create a diverse and inclusive community where students, faculty and staff feel welcome, are treated fairly and equitably, and can thrive in their various endeavours. Achieving this requires intentional and systemic action.

As indicated in a campus-wide email in October, the Offices of the President and Provost have initiated a search for the new and continuing role of Executive Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). The Executive Director, EDI will lead the development, promotion and implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives through engagement with academic and non-academic leaders, faculty, staff and students, all with the view to effect systemic change and enable a University community that is equitable, diverse and inclusive. I am pleased to share that a committee for this critical search has been established.

Thank you all for your collective efforts during these challenging times. I am constantly in awe of the dedication shown by our students, faculty and staff – and even more so during the challenges we have faced together in the past year. I am looking forward to connecting with you in the spirit of the holidays in the month ahead. As we move into the holiday break, I encourage you to take care of yourself and those around you.