University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) president Yolen Bollo-Kamara is criticizing the university’s recent creation of the position of vice-provost, innovations in undergraduate education.
In December, university administration appointed professor Susan McCahan, most recently serving as vice-dean, undergraduate in the university’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, to the newly created position.
Bollo-Kamara says that she appreciates efforts made to innovate and strengthen undergraduate education at the university, but is concerned about “continued administrative bloat.”
“This is just one of the many new positions created within the central administration every year, often having little impact on our university experience,” Bollo-Kamara says.
Bollo-Kamara adds that, in shutting down recent calls for the expansions of Counselling and Psychological Services, the university cited underfunding and budgetary restraints.
Bollo-Kamara adds that the money spent on the new position could be used to hire more professors to decrease class sizes or to offer greater program and course diversity.
According to the university, the creation of this position is closely aligned with president Meric Gertler’s commitment to innovation in undergraduate education.
U of T has long been considered one of Canada’s most innovative universities. From 2007 to 2011, 63 start-up organizations were created by U of T students from multiple departments.
At the moment, the university offers numerous courses, programs, labs, and clubs to student entrepreneurs. For instance, the recently created Entrepreneurship Hatchery offers mentoring from faculty members and entrepreneurs, guest lectures by successful entrepreneurs, access to equipment for producing prototypes, and numerous other means of support.
The appointment is effective from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019.
Update (Monday, January 19, 2015): Althea Blackburn-Evans, U of T director of media relations, says that there has been no increase in the number of vice-provosts. “[T]wo portfolios were combined (the offices of Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life now have just one vice-provost, Sioban Nelson, covering these areas) in order to create the opportunity to develop a new portfolio focused on innovations in undergraduate education,” she says.