TransformUS consultation phase comes to a close

On Feb. 3, University President Ilene Busch-Vishniac sent a letter to the campus community outlining the results of the nearly two-month long TransformUS consultation phase.

TransformUS is the University of Saskatchewan’s program prioritization method for sifting through academic programs and support services to determine which should be kept, cut, remain the same or receive increased or decreased funding. The university announced this initiative in January of 2013 to fight a projected deficit of $44.5 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Busch-Vishniac wrote that the TransformUS blog had over 25,000 visits with nearly 300 comments posted. Between the three town halls, there were approximately 400 people in attendance with 1,125 views of the online stream. The recorded versions had 775 people tune in. University leaders received over 300 emails and letters during the phase.

The consultation phase began when the academic programs and support services taskforce reports were released on Dec. 9, 2013 and ended on Jan. 30.

A recurring issue that Busch-Vishniac mentioned in the letter is the concern that cutting programs or reducing their resources will have adverse effects on other programs and services.

“Within the feedback we have received, we saw support for a variety of programs and services, concerns regarding what the elimination of one program or service may mean to another or to the university as a whole and suggestions of how we might want to look at restructuring if we were to make changes to a specific program or service,” Busch-Vishniac wrote.

Provost and Vice-President Brett Fairbairn and Vice-President Finance and Resources Greg Fowler also sent out a letter that detailed the next phases of TransformUS.

During the analysis phase, from February to the end of April, the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning will review all of the feedback from the consultation period to create a plan to carry out decisions during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“On behalf of PCIP, our commitment to you is that we will develop our proposals in a principled and evidence-informed way,” Fairbairn and Fowler wrote.

“We will engage and inform unit leaders as we do so; we will be mindful of our teaching and research missions, values and vision; and we will work with decision-makers and governing bodies so that decisions are considered fully, openly and fairly as allowed for by university processes. Our collective goal is a sustainable, stronger university.”