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Message from Dr. Janice Ristock

Reflections on her first year as Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

July 11, 2017 — 

 

Dear Colleagues,

With summer here, many of us will soon be departing on well-deserved vacations, pursuing research or teaching programs, or preparing for the next academic year. The coming months, I hope, will provide all of you with ample opportunity to relax and to reflect, so that the return to regular academic activities in September will be a rewarding and fulfilling one.

As I begin my second year as Provost and Vice-President (Academic), I want to share with you how deeply impressed and inspired I am by the daily work of our entire University of Manitoba community. Whether through research that changes lives here and around the world, teaching that inspires new understandings and that provides skills to a new generation, or work that engages our partners in the community, all of you contribute so meaningfully and essentially to the life of this institution.

When I first took this position, last July, I shared with you my values – transparency, accountability and collaboration. My commitment to those values has only intensified over the past twelve months. This past winter, President David Barnard and I spent many hours visiting with all faculty councils, on both campuses, to hear directly from you what most matters to you as professionals engaged in academic pursuits at this institution.

What we heard repeatedly was that you wished to work at an institution that supported and valued your efforts and your well-being; I want you to know that David and I, and our colleagues in senior administration, are committed to facilitating your success and, ultimately, your sense of fulfilment in your work here.

We have already moved to address many of the specific concerns we heard from you during those visits. In particular, I note that the travel and expense management steering committee has paved the way for increased flexibility in your travel planning. As well, the 2017-18 budget made significant investments in the university’s academic units and core functions including critical faculty and staff renewal. We have also worked together to enhance Indigenous scholarship and initiatives; to support teaching excellence through substantial additional resources; and to bolster the fundamental research and scholarly work that underpins so much of our progress locally and around the globe.

I trust these actions and others that will follow will enhance your professional growth and your ability to realize your teaching and research goals here at the University of Manitoba.

At the same time, even as we make progress in fulfilling our ongoing mission, there remain challenges, including as I think we are all well aware, the fiscal constraints faced by universities across the country, the provincial public-sector wage freeze, and a new round of collective bargaining with the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA).

I recognize and respect the fact that different and sometimes opposing perspectives will come to bear in the upcoming bargaining discussions. That is the nature of the process and of the academy, and this diversity of viewpoints is essential to our vitality as an institution.

The circumstances this year, though, are especially unique. Less than a year ago, this institution endured a three-week-long UMFA strike that took a toll on our entire community, most especially students. I think we can agree that we owe it to them, and to ourselves as a productive community, to strive to do things differently this time, to put aside entrenched positions or strategies to the extent possible and to creatively and collaboratively advance solutions that will avoid the serious consequences that we and our students so recently experienced.

I encourage all of you, as valued members of this community, to remain informed and closely engaged with the issues facing our institution.

Finally, this week we welcome many new colleagues at our new faculty orientation session who are joining our community. It is an exciting time for them and for us. Let’s continue to work together to uphold the shared values of our University of Manitoba community—namely, Academic Freedom, Accountability, Collegiality, Equity and Inclusion, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, Respect, and Sustainability.

I wish you all a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you in the fall.

 

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