President Loreman’s Report to GFC, Nov 13, 2020.Posted on: Nov 13, 2020
President’s Report to GFC
November 13, 2020
I am very concerned about mental health on campus, including the mental health of our students, faculty, sessional instructors, administrators, and staff. Being at home and connecting only by screen is taking a toll.
Student use of our counselling services has increased by 50% and we are hiring an additional counsellor to help cope with the demand in early 2021. However, this likely only addresses a small proportion of our students who are struggling. We need your help. Please reach out to students who you think may be experiencing difficulties, or refer them for support to Student Life and Learning. Efforts are being made to care for our students through peer connections, Movies for Mental Health, and many other initiatives. These should not be seen as extra-curricular activities in the typical sense of the term. It is incumbent on all of us to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, and to suggest participation in health-promoting activities.
Similarly, many of our colleagues on staff, faculty, or working as sessional instructors are having a difficult time not only caring for the mental health of our students but also caring for their own. We need to reach out to one another, and perhaps more deliberately so than in the past. Reaching out to a friend and catching up for a coffee, in person or virtually, can make a huge difference. We will also be hosting virtual ‘coffee shops’ in the coming weeks. Please drop in and join us – they will be informal gatherings and ways of connecting with one another in a positive and friendly way.
The Exhibition Lands Planning Framework received first and second reading at a public hearing of City Council on November 5, 2020. I was present at the meeting (virtually) and spoke in favour of the proposal. Before returning to City Council for third and final reading, City Council asked that the plan to go to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board for approval. The date for third reading has not been set but is expected in the first quarter of 2021. For more information please visit the project website.
McKinsey review of post-secondary education:
As mentioned in my last report, private consulting firm McKinsey has been awarded a $3.7m contract to conduct a review of the post-secondary education system, including individual institutions, in Alberta.
I have been actively engaged in consultations with McKinsey, individually and as a part of numerous round tables. Other stakeholders at CUE, including our student leaders, have also been involved. While it is impossible to tell at this stage what the end result will be, I can say that my conversations have been largely focused around the economic impact of higher education and issues around governance. I am told that in December there will be an event at which some of the recommendations of McKinsey will be presented.
State of the University Address:
The State of the University Address this year will take the form of a 10-minute video of highlights (that can be subsequently edited for other purposes, including promotional ones) and the written report that has been published each year since I was appointed president in 2017. It should be available to our community next week.
Inclusion and diversity:
At the beginning of October CUE partnered in the National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities, a free event that many of us attended organized by universities across Canada. This year the dialogue was on how we can “resolutely reject anti-Black racism and drive meaningful, enduring Black inclusion within individual universities and colleges; the higher education sector, in general; and our communities”. In future years National Dialogues will focus on other topics where inequities are evident, such as disability, gender, Indigenous peoples and communities, and a wide variety of other areas.
In addition to this, we have had the pleasure of distributing a number of $500 inclusion micro-grants to faculty and staff at CUE to support small, practical projects that will have an impact in this area.
New building update:
We have concluded our community consultations on the New Academic Building and have made significant changes to the design based on feedback from our neighbours. We are now at the point where most feel comfortable with it, and we are moving forward for re-zoning and planning permits. The building will cost somewhere in the region of $40m, but we believe we can afford it providing we continue to be prudent with our finances. We may be in a position to begin building in Spring 2021, with a completion date for Fall 2022.