By Enobong Ukpong, September 26 2022—
Last week’s Student Legislative Council (SLC) meeting took place on Sept. 20. The main topic of discussion was the Board of Governors’ Post-Meeting Report.
The Board of Governors is an organization that is responsible for overseeing the management of the University of Calgary’s business and affairs. The board develops the strategic direction and policy framework for the university and is largely responsible for making sure the university is achieving its objectives.
As Student-at-Large representative, Renzo Pererya attended the last Board of Governors’ meeting on Sept. 16, alongside Students’ Unions (SU) President Nicole Schmidt.
According to Pererya, the meeting was a largely introductory affair meant for newer members of the board, of which there are several.
“I would say about half or almost two-thirds of the board is new, which is pretty unusual,” said Schmidt.
Despite this, the meeting introduced a number of new priorities, especially in regards to the formation of a new university strategy. The current one, Eyes High, sought to see the University of Calgary become one of the top five research universities in Canada, which it has accomplished. Board members discussed the possibility of having a strategy that is shorter in length, as there was a belief that another ten-year strategy similar to Eyes High would not be adapt to black swan events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it was reflected that any new plan needed to be based on an aspirational goal that all stakeholders feel they can contribute to.
“For example, if we build a plan around only graduate students, undergraduate students are going to be left out of those goals,” said Pererya.
The second strategic priority that was shared was the need for the U of C to find competitive differentiation.
“Now that we’re top five, where do we go from here?” said Pererya. “As it was shared, we’re not going to out-McGill McGill, we’re not going to out-UBC UBC. What does the University of Calgary have that is different for us to be able to attract both students and scholars to this institution?”
An emphasis was made on positioning the university as a leading institution through programs like experiential learning, work integrated opportunities, as well as expanding the availability of embedded certificates.
Another possibility that was shared was the establishment of an institute for transdisciplinary studies.
“This would allow our institutions to position ourselves to address global challenges from different perspectives and different lenses. Instead of solely addressing something from the perspective of an economist, we can have different areas of campus, such as engineering and medicine, tackling the problem collaboratively,” said Pererya.
The third strategic priority was to make the University of Calgary a leader in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) across Canada, and there are plans to establish an EDI Presidential task force, of which the SU has representation. The task force will work in collaboration with the Office of Indigenous Affairs.
The fourth priority is external engagement and strengthening community connections, of which the upcoming provincial elections play a vital role in. The university plans on keeping relations with the government and its opposition, but it was noted that the university currently depends on the government for much of its funding, and as such fingers are being crossed that the new government won’t continue the recent post-secondary education budget cuts. On that note, the board has also talked about looking towards other means of funding so that there is more stability.
Pererya noted with some alarm that several board members had raised a point that U of C students pay less than the national average for tuition, a statistic Pererya says to take with a grain of salt.
“One of the things that I can commit to all of you as SLC is that I’ll be working on collaboration with President Schmidt to ensure that we word very strongly that this should not be an option,” said Pererya.
Agendas, minutes and upcoming meetings for SLC can be found online.