University of Calgary

General Faculties Council revitalized

UToday HomeJune 27, 2012

Photo by Riley BrandtPhoto by Riley BrandtThe General Faculties Council (GFC) has approved the recommendations of a task force struck to review the functioning of GFC and its standing committees.

“The task force was charged by the GFC to recommend changes that would allow all GFC members to be engaged and empowered to work toward the betterment of the University of Calgary,” says Elizabeth Cannon, university president and GFC chair. “Their recommendations have affirmed the philosophy that academic decision-making should be collegial, rigorous and transparent.”

“On behalf of the GFC and the entire campus community, I would like to thank the members of the task force for their dedication to this foundational review. The resulting changes to the GFC will have a lasting effect on our academic decision-making for years to come,” says Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic).

The task force considered how the GFC functions, and the nature, structure and responsibilities of its standing committees. They consulted with past and present GFC members and the university community, and issued a report with recommendations in the areas of engagement and communication, organization and governance, and resources and support.

Based on the recommendations, the GFC standing committee structure was changed to improve governance processes, and now includes the following committees (terms of reference): GFC Executive Committee, Academic Planning and Priorities Committee, Teaching and Learning Committee, Research and Scholarship Committee, Facilities and Information Technology Committee, and Student Academic Appeals Committee. The task force also recommended that all GFC standing committees be supported by the office of the University Secretariat.

“The GFC is the highest academic decision-making body at the University of Calgary and provides a place where the voices of the academic members of the university can be heard,” says Geoffrey Simmins, chair of the task force. “GFC works with the administration and the Board of Governors to influence and guide the direction for the university. Discussion and debate are an integral part of academic life. The revamped GFC should result in more engaged debate and discussion across the institution. We are looking forward to seeing its new policies and procedures enacted in the coming year.”

GFC membership was expanded to include two more Graduate Students’ Association representatives, a representative of the Post-Doctoral Association, the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), the Vice-Provost (Student Experience) and several more academic staff members. Both the MaPS and AUPE observers were changed to voting members.

The task force members at the time of the submission of the report were: Geoffrey Simmins (chair, GFC Task Force; Faculty of Arts), Jaydeep Balakrishnan (Haskayne School of Business), Michele Jacobsen (Faculty of Education), Ed McCauley [vice-president (Research)], Ola Mohajer [vice-president (Academic), Students’ Union 2011-12], Sandy Murphree (interim deputy provost), Elizabeth Osler (University Secretariat), Franco Rizzuti (president, Graduate Students’ Association), Sheldon Roth (Faculty of Science; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) Anthony Russell (Faculty of Science), Elizabeth Sjogren (University Secretariat), Susan Skone (Schulich School of Engineering), Anne Stalker (Faculty of Law) and Dennis Sumara (dean, Faculty of Education).

Visit the General Faculties Council to learn more about its role, membership and responsibilities in the bicameral system of governance at the University of Calgary.

From the Report of the Task Force to Review GFC and the GFC Standing Committees:
The Task Force believes that GFC should serve as a forum for listening as well as speaking. By merging the various experiences of the academic staff with the expertise that the senior administration brings to the table, GFC can become what it was intended to be: a place where participation is enthusiastic, interaction is effective, and listening and discussion take place in ways that are collegial, transparent, creative, and strategic.