Update from President Mahon following meeting with Minister

April 12, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I, along with the other 25 presidents of Alberta's post-secondary institutions, met with the Deputy Premier and Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education, and other officials from the Ministry, to discuss the future of Campus Alberta and the letters of expectation issued to us shortly after the provincial budget. While we have not yet arrived at a position of absolute clarity, I am pleased that the presidents and the Minister have agreed to embark on a collaborative approach to work through these issues.

It was agreed that the timeline for approval on the letters of expectation would be extended to September to enable a more full discussion among faculty, staff and students at each of the institutions in the province. Additionally, the letters would form more of a "memorandum of understanding" reflecting the unique role each institution plays in the post-secondary sector, in the Alberta system overall and reflect the differentiation among each individual institution.

The Minister agreed that differentiation is important and that students must have options throughout the province – including in similar academic areas and that access to opportunity in large and small centres must be maintained. The Minister also affirmed the importance of basic research and applied research and that the government is interested in building research excellence across institutions. He also affirmed that the sciences, social sciences, humanities and fine arts are important to Alberta, as are professional programs. He emphasized that while our sector's impact on jobs is important so too is our impact on society, culture and quality of life.

I am pleased that the Minister has agreed that the letter of expectation process needs to be extended to allow for institutional discussions, sector discussion and system discussions. I think that the meeting helped to find common ground. I am optimistic that we will find a productive way forward, but there is no question that the budget challenges remain.

Dr. Mike Mahon
President and Vice-Chancellor