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By Laurie Zack
It was a picture of a strong, dedicated and community-oriented Faculty that Interim Dean Joanne Locke presented to the Board of Governors on April 16.
The Faculty is anchored in the community not only through the efforts of individual faculty members and departments, but also through its involvement in science fairs and festivals, volunteer work by students and programs in locals schools and community groups. For students, there are a myriad of real-world experiences to be gained through cooperative education programs in the Faculty and other internship and practica available in close to 20 departments.
Locke sprinkled her overview with teaching, research and student success stories that mirrored the Faculty’s mission and objectives. Included was a testimonial from a student who singled out his exciting Biology class as the only thing that gets him out of bed early Friday morning. “Teaching does not stop at the end of each class; it continues in the corridors, in my office and even on the streets,” added a professor.
Other interesting aspects of the work in the Faculty were the efforts at mentoring the next generation of researchers through events like the Undergraduate Research Day and the success of graduate students at winning major awards and prizes. Locke presented the growing research profile of the Faculty through a slide showing $14.4 million in research grants in 2008 from a multitude of research sources, both provincial and national.
Although overall enrolment is slightly down, undergraduate in particular, the Faculty has maintained financial stability through increasing its graduate weighted FTEs. Somewhat higher entrance standards and fewer students taking full course loads helps to explain the minimal decline in undergraduate enrolment figures. The Faculty hopes to attract more new students with innovative programs in growth areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It renews its program offerings through constant program evaluations.
In order to free up funds to invest in developing areas in the Faculty, a difficult decision was made to hire only at replacement levels. “It is not easy to budget in a situation where we have to both build on our strategic objectives and deal with very limited resources,” explained Locke. “Limiting our hiring, temporarily, was one way of freeing up about one per cent of our budget to invest in our future.”
Strengthening student recruitment, retention and enrolment management and retaining and supporting full-time faculty are other key faculty priorities.