Devan C. Tasa, Omega Contributor Ω
When complete, the TRU academic plan will bring focus into the university’s creation of its curriculum and programs, giving students more opportunities in their education, said Katherine Sutherland, the Chair of the Academic Planning Steering Committee.
“The academic plan should be the guiding document of the university,” said Sutherland. “It sets an academic vision for students, faculty and the community so we can move forward in a unified way instead of madly going off in all different directions.”
The plan will develop curriculum and programs within the context of four key themes: science and applied skills; politics and the exercise of power in our society; health and well-being; and sustainability.
“It should allow us to create new programs, but to do it in a really targeted, strategic way,” said Sutherland.
Student representatives were generally pleased with the content of the draft academic plan.
“Overall, I think it’s a fairly good plan,” said Dylan Robinson, a student senator. “It hits some themes that are going to be important to the growth of the institution over time.”
“We were excited to see that they came out with it and excited to see their themes and their initiatives of moving forward,” said Jordan Harris, the TRUSU external vice-president. “We honestly think that they can follow through with those initiatives.”
There were some concerns the student representatives wanted to highlight.
“What we want to see in the new academic plan is more adequate student services,” said Harris.
Harris said TRUSU wants the university to fund student services on a more permanent basis. Currently student services have to apply to a fund periodically to get their funding, he said.
TRUSU also wants to also see greater integration between open learning, TRU World, and the aboriginal center, said Harris.
Robinson was concerned about the university’s “scattered focus.” He said an example of this is that TRU has a law school, yet it doesn’t have a political science degree.
Another concern brought up by the student representatives is the lack of discussion in the plan about the university’s government.
“We want to see some senate reform,” said Harris.
Under the Universities Act, for every one administrator on a Senate, there must be one student and two faculty members. At TRU, which has its Senate composition dictated by different legislation, there are 16 administrators, four students, and 22 faculty members.
The number of student senators is a concern to TRUSU and Robinson.
“I see the problems with student representation on decision-making bodies throughout the institution,” said Robinson. “For example, we have tons of sub-committees of Senate, and its really hard for me to know what is going on in those committees so I can represent students.”
Sutherland said that the academic plan is not the place to deal with governance issues.
“An academic plan doesn’t deal with governance issues,” said Sutherland.
“A strategic plan might.”
“In terms of student governance and involvement, that comes down to the faculties, said Sutherland.
“I know there is a strong desire in faculty councils to involve students more and the provost’s office would like to involve students much more in [the] planning exercise.”