Campus Life

Open Mike — October updates and a look to upcoming town hall

I trust everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend and I hope you were able to spend some time with loved ones, whether virtually or in-person.

I’d like to pass along a few short updates on some upcoming campus activities as well as congratulate everyone for some of the successes we have been celebrating in recent weeks. At the top of the list is our recent standing in the Maclean’s University Rankings Report, where we achieved our highest-ever standing of second in the primarily undergraduate classification. This is truly a campus-wide achievement and all of our faculty, staff and students deserve credit for continuing to put the University at the top of the rankings list year after year.

As we look ahead, a key area of emphasis that will allow us to further strengthen our campus is the continued growth of diversity and inclusivity throughout our community. We are currently recruiting for the newly created and continuing role of Executive Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This will be a vital role on campus, helping to shape our community going forward as we strive to effect systemic change and enable a university community that is equitable, diverse and inclusive.

Recently, we communicated our decision to continue instruction in the 2021 spring term through a blend of face-to-face and online modalities. This decision supports meaningful learning and engagement activities that are essential to the student experience and will maximize the number of students who can safely be on campus. Course delivery will continue to be primarily online, but with an increase in the number of face-to-face offerings. I fully expect our outstanding faculty and staff will continue to meet the needs of our students as we navigate these unprecedented times together, and thank everyone for their efforts.

Later this week, the University will host representatives from Navitas, an Australian-based company that works in partnership with post-secondary institutions (such as Simon Fraser University, Ryerson University and University of Manitoba) for the purposes of recruiting, retaining and supporting international students. As part of this visit, representatives from Navitas will meet with U of L senior leaders, student leaders, ULFA executive and representatives of units responsible for supporting our international students. The Navitas visit is the beginning of a process to understand options and ask and address questions that would inform future considerations of their service.

The internationalization of our campus and support for international students has been a long-held priority for our institution. International students enrich our campus and broader community and contribute to the overall experience of all our students. Further, increased international enrolment is important in ensuring the financial sustainability of our institution, which is becoming increasingly important in the face of operating grant reductions from the Alberta government. Regardless of any future outcomes, discussions like these are critical in ensuring we chart a course forward that is in the best interests of our students, faculty, staff and the broader southern Alberta community.

On October 29, we will deliver another town hall update to discuss a number of important developments on campus, including the effects of COVID-19 on the University’s budget, further details regarding our Spring 2021 delivery model and an update on the various task forces looking at university transformation. These town halls are valuable opportunities to share information with each other that informs our collective work and I look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible through this forum.