April 4, 2022

How do we build a better UCalgary?

A message from Teri Balser, provost and vice-president (academic)
How do we build a better UCalgary?

For Dr. Teri Balser, provost and vice-president (academic), it’s only by connecting people with purpose and process that the University of Calgary will achieve its full potential.

“Simply put, we have to put people at the heart of everything we do,” says Balser.

Post-secondary institutions across Alberta, and around the world, are facing shifting times. Students' learning needs and expectations are more complex than ever before. Researchers require access to equipment, talent and resources to continue pushing the bounds of innovation. Meanwhile funding for universities is steadily declining.

Through the Framework for Growth, UCalgary committed to becoming a truly great research university, providing an exceptional student experience, and supporting a world-class faculty. Achieving these ambitious goals requires new solutions, to shape UCalgary for a new era.

“We have to be brave enough to ask ourselves if the way we’ve always done things should be reimagined to fit our current context,” says Balser. “We have to make space for new ideas, simplify and streamline our processes, and align our resources so that we can focus on what we do best.”

As described to the campus community in the town hall on March 10, 2022, a systematic process is underway to evaluate and strengthen our foundations. It includes looking at the ways teams work together, the tools and procedures that support institution-wide systems, and the data needed to inform strategic decisions. This ‘Strong Foundations Plan’ will support the Framework for Growth and ensure we can strengthen our focus on community, students and the student experience, and collaboration in all we do.

The purpose of a foundational review is to develop consistency in expectations for the various roles and responsibilities on campus, to foster a culture of inclusion and respect, and to articulate UCalgary values.

“It’s all about building strong people, strong systems and strong processes,” says Balser.

  • By better co-ordinating systems, UCalgary can reduce multiple overlapping or misaligned processes.
  • By strengthening digital strategies to address gaps across web, data, and systems, the university can enhance co-ordination and expand its capacity.
  • By enhancing data governance through processes and shared understanding, the university can foster better ways to generate, validate, access and store critical information.

As a research-intensive institution, Balser says, UCalgary will work to align its internal budget model with the strategic goals and outcomes outlined in our various strategies and Framework for Growth. Processes and procedures will be streamlined to cut red tape and remove barriers to the rapid actions our campus needs most. And policies will be reviewed, with those out of alignment with our current goals being revised or removed.

“This is all about improving our forecasting, using smart planning and fostering greater alignment with university goals to meet our needs now and in the future,” says Balser.

This article is the start of a series of updates to the campus community of UCalgary’s ongoing progress to review its systems and put people first.