Monday, February 12, 2007

Task Force on Academic Structure: Update

Dear Members of the University Community:

The Phase 2 Task Force on Academic Structure would like to update you on our activities in each of the three areas of our mandate: Academic Configuration, Interdisciplinarity, Academic Structural Building Blocks.

Academic Configuration:
  • To date we have received notification from a number of academic areas across the University that they are planning to submit proposals to the Task Force for alternative academic unit configuration within the University.
  • Full proposals from the University community are required by March 9, 2007. Once received, we will share with you a summary overview of each of the proposals for your information.
  • A “Call for Interest” will be issued on February 8, 2007 seeking expressions of interest from any member of the University community who would like to serve on a Working Group for the consideration of realignment proposals. Full details will be placed on our website at the time of the “call”.
  • The Task Force is now in the process of reviewing background statistical and planning documents in preparation for the pending proposals.
  • We will be hosting an “Interdisciplinarity Charette Day” on Friday, March 23, 2007 from 8:30-5:00 followed by a wine and cheese social. This major event will launch our investigations into interdisciplinarity. The interactive day with members of the University community will feature guest speakers, the successes and challenges of interdisciplinarity research and teaching at SFU, and an afternoon of brainstorming. Book your calendars now, and watch for an announcement within the next two weeks giving full details, free registration information, and opportunities to share your successes or challenges as part of the agenda.
  • In the meantime we will be exploring the literature on interdisciplinarity, SFU’s framework for interdisciplinarity, and interdisciplinary initiatives elsewhere. If you know of any articles or initiatives that we should be aware of, please let the Task Force know.
  • Once the Charette Day has taken place, the Task Force will be determining its full strategy for exploring the interdisciplinary element of its mandate.
Academic Structural Building Blocks:
  • The Task Force is in the process of preparing an information report on the use of academic structural building blocks (i.e. programs, departments, schools, faculties, colleges, centres and institutes) at SFU. The report will be looking at their coherence, roles, responsibilities, functions, administrative requirements, costs, and the extent to which there is administrative effectiveness and appropriate levels of differentiation. The report will also examine how these “building blocks” are used at other institutions. The information report will be shared with the University community. Following a consideration of the report, the Task Force will be outlying its overall strategy for the consideration of this area of its mandate.
Other News:
We have posted an overall timeline showing our planned activities for the next year on our website.
To ensure that you are kept fully informed about the activities of the Task Force and its Working Groups and in the spirit of our commitment to be transparent and collegial in our activities, we plan to send you an information update about once every 5-6 weeks. Occasionally we will also send you other communications about key events and opportunities to engage with the Task Force.

Website and Contact Information:
The Phase 2 Task Force on Academic Structure’s website is available at:

In addition to the various formal opportunities that will be developed to consult extensively with the University community, we wish to invite you at any time to send us your input, advice and comments. The Task Force can be contacted by email at: or you can contact the Secretary to the Task Force, Sharon Eng, at 604.291.3925


John Waterhouse, Chair, Phase 2 Task Force on Academic Structure
Vice-President, Academic