The University of Guelph’s Strategic Transformation has started. It’s an exciting journey and requires the commitment of everyone on our campus, so we can collectively create a stronger University for us all.
Our Strategic Transformation is our bold step forward in modernizing our University and preserving our academic and research excellence. While we need to transform to ensure we continue to fulfill the needs of our students, faculty and staff, it’s also happening at a time when universities across Ontario are facing a major financial crisis. As President, Dr. Charlotte Yates, acknowledges in an open letter to the U of G community, our transformation efforts alongside government action, will enable our University to have a financially sustainable future.
A Growing Team
The Strategic Transformation Office (STO) is building momentum and we are pleased to welcome long time U of G faculty member and senior leader, Dr. John Livernois, as the Executive Lead for Strategic Transformation. John will join the STO in January 2024. The STO office also recently welcomed, Rayan Dawson, who will oversee the day-to-day administration of the office. We remain focused on filling key roles within the STO and we are currently recruiting for communications and project management roles.
The Strategic Advisory Group (STAG) chaired by the President and made up of faculty, staff and students has been formed. Thank you to everyone who applied or nominated a peer for this critical team. STAG recently held their first meeting in November. The group focused on updates to the schedule of operational reviews, terms of reference, and active communications. As we move through transformation, this group will serve as a key community engagement forum, providing feedback and advice every step of the way.
Working alongside the STO will be the newly formed Strategic Transformation Steering Committee. This committee consists of university senior leadership and is responsible for supporting the STO with the transformation strategy, scope, scheduling, and budget decisions. This committee held its first meeting in November and focused on reviewing budget targets and timelines.
Establishing Good Governance
Transforming U of G will be a complex journey and a strong governance model will enable us to be agile in how we operate, approve recommendations, and move forward. It will also allow multiple levels of engagement, accountability, and transparency in how our transformation evolves. The following diagram illustrates how Strategic Transformation will be governed, highlighting that our transformation is truly a university-wide undertaking:
Operational Review Updates
Working closely with faculty and staff, and in some cases external expertise, the STO is finding ways to transform and modernize our institution. Our transformation will enable us to embrace new technologies, grow our revenue streams and find smarter ways to work together to reduce costs and realize efficiencies. All these strategies will contribute to building a more modern and financially fit U of G.
Operational reviews are being conducted across many departments and functions within the University to inform the development of plans that will redirect resources to improve performance, advance strategic priorities and better support students, faculty and staff. Any resulting recommendations will be implemented as determined by the Strategic Transformation Governance structure following thoughtful engagement throughout the operational review process.
Each operational review, led by the AVP or Dean, focuses on an organizational unit, and when applicable, all staff related to the function of that unit. For example, the Finance and Budgeting review is working with people and systems within the central unit, across colleges and with any other roles or processes related to the finance and budgeting function.
The following units and service areas are completing the discovery stage. Through the winter semester, the STO will be working closely with the project teams to review recommendations and findings for the following units:
- Finance and Budgeting: Scope includes assessing financial accounting and treasury, student fees, financial planning, analysis and development and budget.
- OVC Hospital: Scope includes reviewing the operating structure of the hospital and interconnectivity with other University units. Additionally, identifying cost management opportunities for asset and facility management, contracted services, materials and logistics while expanding current and potential revenue sources.
- Procurement: Scope includes purchasing services and processes that assist with sourcing, competitive bid development, negotiations (related to terms and conditions) and issuing of purchase orders including expediting.
- Student Services: Scope includes reviewing service touchpoints that students experience from the prospective stage all the way through to graduation. This includes services delivered to students via the Office of Registrarial Services, Student Affairs, Office of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies and staff who provide academic advising.
The following units have progressed to the implementation stage where the operational reviews have been completed and the focus is now on executing the recommendations:
- Continuing Education (CE): Scope included building on CE’s current strengths and identifying opportunities to evolve CE programs while leveraging differentiating capabilities to benefit learners. Additionally, unlocking revenue generating opportunities – recommendations are now being reviewed by the Office of the Provost.
- The Library: Scope included assessing operations holistically and identifying efficiencies that enable the Library to reinvest in initiatives that progress our Strategic Plan – to be completed in Spring, 2024.
With many reviews in progress and at varying stages, the STO is focusing on their completion before starting on operational reviews with new units or service areas. What we learn from these reviews will help guide us to apply best practices moving forward. In 2024, the following operational reviews will begin the discovery stage and the scope of each review will be shared at that time:
- CCS (IT)
- Childcare and Learning Centre
- The Arboretum
Throughout the Fall semester, each of the four Vice-Presidents (Provost and VP Academic, VP Research, VP External and VP Finance and Operations) hosted townhalls for their units to share further insights on the University’s finances as well as Strategic Transformation. It was another opportunity for idea sharing and for questions.
We will continue to share regular updates with you through email, our Intranet and on uoguelph.ca. If you have questions about U of G’s Strategic Transformation journey, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Strategic Transformation Office