This letter was posted 28th September 2001 after it had been discussed with the School's faculty and staff and Dean Granot.
16th August 2001
Part of my work plan while in Maui was to reflect on my first two years as Director of the School and the future of SCARP/CHS. There are three major reasons why I felt this to be important at this time. First, I have now been the Director for two years and have a much better idea of the challenges involved in the Directorship. Second, in an unprecedented expansion, three new faculty members are joining us this summer and it is critically important we engage them immediately in the articulation and pursuit of the vision for the School. Third, the School is about to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, which presents a unique opportunity to advance our aspirations for SCARP/CHS.
My reflections have included reviewing my letter of application for the Directorship and the vision and commitments I put forward in 1999. Please read them as they continue to provide an essential foundation for my thinking. I have, however, also learned an immense amount from my experiences over the last two years and, while the principles still hold their fundamental importance for me, I see the need to revise the strategies if I am to be more effective in taking the School forward towards its vision.
I have also reviewed the School's first two annual Academic Plans (AP). Please note the ideas discussed in this letter are elaborated in the context of our current AP and are intended to advance it. Significant revision of the 2001 AP was anticipated as our thinking progressed through the review of CHS that I mandated last Fall but, as you will see, my discussion reaches beyond this to the wider context of the School as a whole and its relationship to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and others on and off campus.
Below I describe the challenge of the SCARP Directorship as I see it, my assessment of the School's progress over the last two years, three key areas of weakness/threat to be overcome in achieving its outstanding potential, a series of actions I am proposing to take, and my choices and their implications.
The Challenge of the SCARP Directorship
I felt greatly honoured to be invited to serve as the Director of the School but in accepting the appointment I was under no illusions that it would be easy. I knew the responsibilities both inside and outside of the School would be numerous and extensive, while the powers and financial resources beyond a budget for faculty salaries would be very limited. I knew that responding to the needs of over a hundred diverse individuals, each one of whom faces daunting and competing demands in their work and life both inside and outside of the School, would be central to the job and that this would be hugely demanding of my time and energy. I knew the compensation package would be modest ($600 per month honorarium and a 12 month administrative leave at full salary if I serve for 5 years). But, I nonetheless accepted the job with great enthusiasm because of the satisfaction I knew I could derive from not only serving the faculty, staff and students but, more significantly, facilitating the development of the School to attain what I saw as its immense potential.
My chosen strategy of collaborative leadership is a reflection of who I am. Within the constraints and opportunities of the Directorship, I know from experience that this strategy has the potential to be highly productive. My expectations of its potential are founded in my belief that the School's greatest assets are its students, staff and faculty, in all their rich diversity, and that my challenge as Director is to catalyze and facilitate individual and joint efforts to articulate and pursue our shared vision. Pursuing my ideals is not easy when there are significant differences in views about our vision and how to pursue it. My task is all the more difficult when faculty members feel so pressed that they find it hard to take the time to work on the breadth and diversity of issues that need to be addressed in integrating and advancing the School's activities that are its core mission: teaching (masters and doctoral), research (individual and joint), and service to communities (on and off campus). The more that our views differ and time cannot be found or is not available to seek resolution of them, the more I am forced into making decisions (either by acting on votes or on my own authority) that will displease some of you while satisfying others. Over time, my failure to build consensus, particularly on important issues, erodes the essential basis for my strategy of collaborative leadership and eventually makes it impossible for me to employ.
To counter these threats, I have employed three key strategies:
I believe the School has made enormous progress given the challenges we have faced over the last two years and that it stands on the threshold of remarkable opportunities. Before taking up the position I expected to face significant challenges but I did not anticipate the events of the first year that would so greatly intensify our difficulties (i.e. a 4% budget cut, three faculty members retiring/resigning, and the School's new administrator taking maternity leave). However, while the costs have undoubtedly been high for faculty, students and staff, I believe we have not only survived two very tough years but come through them with significant accomplishments that are invaluable building blocks for further innovation. Everybody involved should be proud of these accomplishments and I am deeply appreciative of all that you have each contributed. For me our key achievements include the following:
It has indeed been most gratifying to see and hear the growing appreciation for the School's accomplishments and the increasing recognition of it as a unit of the University that is in the ascendancy. The most explicit and tangible evidence of this has been the truly remarkable allocation of new resources to the School by the Dean and the VP Academic; few, if any, other units on campus have been afforded such favourable consideration. This encouraging perception has been increasingly reinforced for me in numerous conversations that I have had with other UBC department heads, members of PIBC, our alumni, employers of our graduates, and funding sources (such as The Real Estate Foundation). Particularly telling has been the positive feedback on the School from the many planning academics with whom I have had contact in the process of recruiting over the last twelve months. It is in this context of acknowledged achievement and our goal of being the premier sustainability planning school in North America that I have revisited my assessment of our SWOT and strategies.
My personal assessment in 1998 of the School's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) was the basis for outlining the strategies I would pursue if I would be appointed the Director. This original assessment and associated strategies have been revised over the last couple of years as others, both inside and outside of the School, have been involved in discussing their perceptions with us and as a result of actions taken by ourselves and others. My present reflections have led me to reassess the most recent SWOT statement contained in our 2001 Academic Plan and to feel the need to extend more explicitly and candidly my assessment of three key and closely interrelated aspects and strategies responding to them: (i) the directorship; (ii) the internal organization of SCARP/CHS; and (iii) the School's external relations with the rest of the University, the planning profession and the wider community. Please note that I am drawing on the more comprehensive consideration of SWOT elements and strategies discussed in the most recent version of our AP and not repeating them all here. Also I am looking at them from today's perspective, which has changed significantly since our 2001 AP was written at the beginning of the year.
I have failed to make the progress that I would have liked in remedying what I identified in my letter of application as the School's most fundamental weaknesses: "Its major weaknesses stem from fragmentation of efforts and the neglect of its own community."
The reasons for not achieving more are only partly circumstantial, more fundamentally I see them as resulting from failures/weaknesses in my leadership, in the ways I have undertaken the Directorship. Undoubtedly the circumstances of competing pressures on all of us, diminished resources for the School and our dispersion among three buildings on campus have been contributing factors. But to dwell on these causes is to ignore what more I could have done by adhering more closely to my espoused ideals and being more vigorous in their pursuit. In my mind the latter are more significant causes and reflect in part a lack of resolve to live up to them and in part poor judgement in making choices among them. On some occasions I have failed to adequately exercise the authority that is inherent in the powers and responsibilities of the directorship. On other occasions I have misjudged the appropriate balancing of authoritative and consensual decision making. In some instances I have failed to hold people accountable. In other instances I have neglected the creation of sufficient incentives, positive and negative. Too often, I have failed to delegate the administrative responsibilities of running the School.
But, one of my shortcomings looms larger in my mind than any of the others because its impacts are profound and ramify throughout all of our endeavours. Put simply, I have neglected the fundamental importance of us, the faculty, talking with each other. On reflection, I am surprised at the extent to which I have ignored all that I have learned from my professional practice, research and teaching as a facilitator, mediator and planner. In retrospect, I feel I have done us a disservice by focusing too strongly on ensuring our faculty meetings are efficient in getting through lengthy agendas to the detriment of discussion. Likewise, I have yielded too readily to the expressed desires to keep meetings of the faculty to a minimum because of all the other things needing to be done. Most detrimentally I have given insufficient emphasis to creating the opportunities and facilitating the interaction and deliberation that are essential to understanding differences in views, creating new ideas and building consensus and commitment. The School's huge potential inherent in the rich diversity of its faculty will never be achieved if we do not give greater attention to the conversations - one-on-one, in small groups and in plenary - that are essential if fragmented efforts are to be avoided and our community developed and sustained.
To remedy my Directorship weaknesses I commit to greater resolve in pursuing the ideals I have espoused and more reflective balancing amongst them. I will re-enforce this by actively seeking greater accountability for my performance from the School and the Dean. One mechanism that I will employ is to distribute to all faculty, staff and students a Director's evaluation form at my annual report meeting in April of each year to seek anonymous feedback in the same way as we do for course evaluations. The feedback will be collated for me by the staff and I will write a response which will be distributed to everyone.
A second mechanism will be to request an assessment of my performance each year by the Dean. There is presently no established procedure for doing this. I will propose an approach to her that is based on setting goals/targets for the upcoming year as reflected in the School's annual AP and assessment of my performance that is derived in part from the report that is included with the revision of the Plan one year later. The School's feedback on my performance would also be included.
A third mechanism will involve more explicit feedback to faculty members on my assessment of their performance when I am making my annual recommendations to the Dean on merit awards. Beginning next year I propose to review my recommendations in draft with each person before forwarding them to the Dean. In preparation for this I will indicate how I draw on information provided to me in the individual annual reports from faculty members and seek advice on how the information included in them might be improved to reflect the new expectations of them in TREK 2000 and the University's AP.
I am also proposing to make a number of other specific changes in the internal organizational arrangements for governing the School and in our external relations both on and off campus that further my responses to perceived weaknesses and these are indicated in the next two subsections. They include, in particular, measures designed to catalyze and facilitate greater discussion among the faculty relating to the breadth of issues associated with the School's vision and mission.
After two years as the Director I now have a much better understanding of how the School's organizational arrangements operate in practice and their relative merits. There are four aspects of our existing arrangements where I believe changes can be made to greatly assist us in achieving our goal of being the premier sustainability planning school in North America.
The ongoing review of CHS has been most useful for me in clarifying the past, present and potential future roles of the Centre within the School. Here I summarize my own conclusions and the actions I propose to take on the basis of the present AP for CHS and the draft of the CHS review document developed to this point (see excerpt). In my view the SWOT assessment of CHS contained in these two documents provides a clear indication of the need for prompt action in several areas. Here I am only going to address selected key points and will follow-up separately, as indicated, on the further issues that need to be addressed in the context of our ongoing strategic planning.
I came to UBC in 1971 to help establish Westwater, one of the early interdisciplinary research centres in FOGS and have held an appointment in it (now as a unit within IRE) for 30 years. Over that time I have developed a deep appreciation of the immense value of such centres and a hard-knocks understanding of the significant challenges that they face if they are to achieve their potential and continue to thrive. Based on this experience I see CHS as having outstanding potential and advantages that most other centres lack in meeting the challenges common to all of them. All interdisciplinary centres face a continuing struggle to establish an identity, to obtain recognition for their achievements, to maintain a flow of funds to support their activities, to retain and reward the achievements of the people involved etc. CHS, however, has a major advantage in being constituted within a department/school because of the access this facilitates to faculty, students and a teaching program. At the same time, many departments/schools would like to have the immense advantages that derive from having a centre such as CHS within them to provide strong leadership and facilitate their research and related activities. To fully capitalize on these potential advantages it is essential to integrate the teaching, research and service programs and activities of the department/school. Succeeding in this integration makes both the centre (CHS) and the department/school (SCARP) exponentially stronger. My organizational vision for SCARP is founded on these beliefs. It can be summarized as: One School, Integrated Programs. It is in this context I see an urgent need to clarify the distinct roles and identity of CHS within the School.
As we have seen over the last six months, we do not have to wait until the CHS Review is completed to act on ideas we generate (e.g. the shift to organizing by Programs with the establishment of PPSD, and Peter's new course that is integrated with his research activities). There is also a need to act sooner rather than later in order to exploit opportunities associated with the arrival of the new faculty, to remedy problems we have been encountering with the existing organizational arrangements, and to facilitate the development of new programs and the acquisition of funding for them. I therefore propose to take a series of actions now.
First, produce a communications strategy and materials that present SCARP and CHS within the One School, Integrated Programs vision and highlight the remarkable strengths of CHS that derive from its establishment within the School, the people associated with it, and its international reputation. Fundamental to success is agreement on the organizational vision and the key concepts and terms that are used to articulate it. Once this is established we can prepare the print and web site information to consistently support all our communications both on and off campus. I give the highest priority to developing this strategy because without it all of our efforts and in particular my own as Director are undermined by lack of understanding among those with whom we need to work both inside and outside of the University. It is critically important to the success of CHS and SCARP that we all sing from the same sheet every time we have the opportunity to make music. I will take the lead in developing the School's communications strategy.
Second, create the position of Associate Director SCARP (CHS). As we have recognized during our review discussions, it is vitally important that CHS have a leader whose primary interest is the development of the Centre and its Programs. Designating this position as "Associate Director SCARP (CHS)" has the dual advantages of giving it the status it demands and reflecting the Centre's distinct and integral role within the School. Consistent with this the Associate Director should have a five-year appointment, reduced teaching load and receive an honorarium paid from funds raised by the School. Until an appropriate appointee can be identified, I will continue to act in this position.
Third, in my acting role, I will give immediate priority to facilitating and supporting the development and coordination of the CHS Programs and acquisition of funding to support them. In as much as possible, I will encourage leadership to be taken at the Program and project levels, while giving my primary attention to coordination, support and facilitation of efforts. In doing this I will give particular attention to fostering the engagement of the new faculty in existing Programs and the creation of new ones. It is also imperative that I focus our attention on the strategic decisions relating to the best allocation of scarce resources to meet existing commitments and to generate resources for new Programs and projects. More than anything else, it is vitally important that I identify the ways in which I can best work with the research and administrative staff. Once I have consulted with them and the faculty, I will make some further decisions on the approaches we will take in supporting and advancing the activities of the Centre including how we might most productively use the monthly CHS Management Committee meetings.
Fourth, establish a bi-weekly School seminar series scheduled for Wednesday noon hours. The goal would be to make this seminar the central node of intellectual dialogue and debate within the School. The series would be designed to inform members of the School about the evolving CHS Programs and to seek input on their development. This would be the regular time and place in which the faculty come together to engage each other on their research and to inform students about opportunities for working with them. All faculty members would be expected to participate in all the bi-weekly seminars and all students in the School would be encouraged to attend. The series would also be advertised to invite participation from across the campus and the external community, in particular planners.
Fifth, advance the integration of the School's teaching, capacity building, research and service programs. We have only begun to exploit the opportunities for multiple pay-offs from greater integration. Further courses could be developed like Peter's that are built around ongoing research programs. In the mold of those introduced by Penny and Harry Harker, more courses could be developed so that they are based in the community, respond to its planning priorities, develop capacity in the community, give students the opportunity to experience working directly with planners and community stakeholders, and identify research opportunities for students and faculty. There are immense opportunities for joint benefits if students would select internships, directed studies, professional projects and thesis research topics that relate to CHS Programs and that capitalize on the experience and enthusiasm of the research staff. Presentations during Orientation Week and the bi-weekly seminars can be used to encourage students to think about these opportunities. I will emphasize this integration in our strategic planning and all our decision making.
Sixth, focus more on ongoing strategic planning activities as opposed to the big bang activities of the annual AP and the CHS Review. In the two years since the University introduced the requirement to complete annual APs, it has become evident that these can be made into highly productive instruments for change if we exploit them to advantage. As we have seen to our great benefit they are being used by the Dean and President's office to make decisions on the allocation of additional resources. I therefore propose to use the annual submission of our APs as the key summary statements of our achievements during the preceding 12 months and our goals, targets and strategies for the upcoming year, specifically, and, in more general terms, the next five years. I propose to shape that statement (due in February each year) by an ongoing strategic planning process throughout the year undertaken through our regular administrative activities. Significant revisions to components of our APs would be posted to the School's web sites as they are developed.
Seventh, incorporate the CHS Review activities into the ongoing strategic planning and annual development of APs and the events marking the 50th anniversary of the School. As indicated above, I believe it is preferable to act sooner rather than later on the ideas that have emerged from the Review activities to date. I also believe it is essential that we give greater priority to advancing ideas on future CHS Programs and that this can be accomplished more productively and efficiently by incorporating this into the ongoing strategic planning. More specifically I am proposing to consolidate all the information that has been assembled on the past history and activities of CHS into one report and to use the upcoming annual APs as the evolving statement of the future goals and plans of the Centre. While there will be varied external reviews incorporated into the ongoing planning (e.g. the numerous consultations presently being conducted around the development of the new PPSD Program, and the Wall Institute workshop being organized for next spring by Tom) and in the responses to the submitted APs (i.e. feedback from the FOGS review committee and the President's office), I am proposing that events we organize to mark the School's 50th anniversary be designed to involve others in the generation of ideas for new directions in planning education, research and practice. Below I elaborate on this proposal and how it might incorporate review of the School's programs and plans including CHS.
Having now gone through two annual cycles of the administrative activities involved in operating the School and meeting the requirements of the Dean's Office and University Administration, I have a much better understanding of what is involved and a heightened appreciation of the fact that we are working in a period of major and frequent changes. Building on the preceding assessment and to better facilitate the changes I am proposing to make, I see the need for complementary action in three aspects of the School's administration.
First, rename what have been called "Faculty Meetings" as "School Management Committee (SMC) Meetings" to better reflect their purpose and participants. Since student and staff representatives now participate in the regular monthly meetings, it is inappropriate to continue calling these "Faculty Meetings". We should reserve this term for those occasions when only the faculty members meet. The issues dealt with in these monthly meetings relate to all aspects of the School's management and ongoing strategic planning, hence the proposed term.
Second, add a representative of the CHS research staff to the School Management Committee Meetings. In my view the integration of the School's programs has been given insufficient attention because the two key administrative mechanisms (i.e. Faculty Meetings and CHS Management Committee Meetings) have had foci that neglect their interrelationships. The origins of this lie in earlier times when only a subset of the School's faculty were engaged in CHS activities and the separateness of thinking has been reinforced by the spatial separation of offices. To remedy this problem I propose to add a representative of the CHS research staff to the School Management Committee Meetings, so that it becomes the focal mechanism for pursuing the One School, Integrated Programs vision.
Third, establish six standing committees that will be responsible for key tasks involved in the continuing administration of the School. Each committee will be chaired by a faculty member, who will work with the relevant administrative staff person as indicated below. I will consult directly with each of the chairs in drafting mandates for each committee and establishing how they might operate most efficiently. The committee chairs would provide updates at each School Management Meeting, would be responsible for coordination as necessary with other relevant chairs (e.g. admissions and scholarship), and could add others to their committee as they see the need. The committees and the people I am asking to work on them would be:
I have not asked Michael to Chair one of the committees because of his appointment and responsibilities as Director of the Centre for South East Asian Research.
Provisions for student involvement in the governance of the School have been greatly expanded over the last two years and all aspects of SCARP's programs and activities have benefited immensely from their contributions. These provisions, in combination with the students' invitation to the Director to participate in the biweekly meetings of the PSA Executive, have established forums and channels of communication that are essential for building and maintaining a strong community. Now that we have had two years of experience with these provisions, I would like to assess their strengths and weaknesses and identify how we can make them work more productively and efficiently for everyone.
The provisions for student involvement impose heavy responsibilities and demands on the PSA, in particular its Executive, that previously it has not had to meet. The President of the PSA and other students who serve on the various committees and task groups established by the School have heavy responsibilities in that they are charged with representing the views of the students as a whole, not just their own opinions. For the process to work effectively, there have to be appropriate procedures for selecting student representatives and for those representatives to obtain a mandate from and report back to the student body. Given the relatively short time that students are registered at the School and the many demands on them during that period, there are particular issues to be considered in ensuring continuity and an institutional memory in the PSA.
In my individual meetings with faculty members I would like to obtain their views on how we could build on the strengths and remedy the weaknesses in the ways in which we have been involving the students in the governance of the School. I have already indicated to the current President of the PSA, Sean LeRoy, that I would like to review the range of issues with the PSA and he has responded positively indicating they have already prepared a draft statement.
SCARP's Adjunct Professors make major contributions to the School's program. They make unique contributions in providing our students with knowledge, skills and insight from a wealth of experience as practitioners in a wide variety of planning contexts. They are a critical element of a professional planning school that aspires to being the premier sustainability planning school in North America. Each of them does it because of their strong desire to help in developing the next generation of planners. They do it because of the satisfaction that they derive from working with students. The extremely modest fees that we pay for teaching courses ($6,000 for 3 units) can only be a symbol of our appreciation. We are indeed fortunate to have their support and commitment.
I have been remiss in not doing more to involve the Adjunct Faculty more fully in discussions relating to the advancement of the School. I recognize that each of them have many other heavy demands to meet outside of their role as Adjunct Professors but many of them have told me that they would like to do more. I have therefore invited those who taught in the School last year to a dinner to thank them for their contributions, brief them on new developments and to explore with them the ways in which they might like to be more fully involved in SCARP. We were unsuccessful in finding a convenient date for everyone earlier in the summer and presently hope to meet in September.
Among the possibilities that I would like to explore with them are a special meeting each term involving all Adjunct Professors and the School Management Committee, and specific ways in which they might like to also be involved in our Programs beyond the courses they offer (e.g. participation in the research Programs of CHS, advising students on professional projects or theses). I am particularly interested in exploring how they might assist in strengthening our collaboration with practicing planners. When I meet with you individually I would appreciate your comments and suggestions on ways in which you feel we might work more productively with the SCARP Adjunct Professors.
My experiences as Director over the last two years have impressed on me the critical necessity of building and maintaining strong relationships with individuals and organizations outside of the School, both on and off campus, if SCARP is to thrive. Achieving our vision depends on the support of others. It depends on creating and sustaining partnerships that enable shared interests to be met and scarce resources allocated to the greater advantage of all participants. The President's TREK 2000 vision and the University's Academic Plan recognize the importance and diversity of the relationships that need to be established and enhanced from the local to the global level. SCARP is seen as an interdisciplinary unit that in many regards is already doing what the University needs to do more generally and the School has received remarkable allocations of new resources because of this.
Building and maintaining strong relationships is highly demanding. It takes a great deal of concerted and consistent effort both within the School and among the diverse array of individuals and organizations with whom we need to work. While it is an area in which the Director needs to take a major leadership role, I can only be successful if these responsibilities are shared with and strongly supported by the faculty, staff and students. All of the actions that I have proposed above are designed to assist in building partnerships internal to the School, which are the essential pre-requisite to being successful externally. In this section I focus on four key areas of our external relations where I believe we can do a better job. They reflect the special characteristics of the School that are associated with its establishment in FOGS; its interdisciplinary activities; being a professional program; and its community focus.
As one of the units in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, it is imperative that the Director and the School, have a strong working relationship with the Dean. I have worked hard on building and sustaining this relationship and believe that the School's preferred treatment in being allocated significant new faculty resources is tangible evidence of the results. The Dean has worked hard on our behalf and with great success to obtain new funding from both the President's Office and off campus (e.g. CRC, Bombardier and CN Chairs).
I believe it is most advantageous for the School to be located in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. As a highly interdisciplinary graduate teaching and research unit in its own right, it is singularly appropriate that SCARP be located in FOGS. No other Faculty's mandate comes close to fitting so well. As one of only two schools in a relatively small Faculty there are significant benefits; I doubt that we would receive such good access to and support from the Dean and the Assistant Deans in the other larger Faculties.
After two years experience as the Director, I have not only an enhanced appreciation for the strengths and opportunities but also the weaknesses and threats associated with the ways in which the School and FOGS work together. The five-year external review of FOGS scheduled for this fall presents an excellent opportunity to contribute to the SWOT assessment and discussion of new strategies.
I would like to prepare for the School's submission to the FOGS review by initiating a discussion now among the faculty, staff and students. The FOGS retreat scheduled for October 4th provides a potential opportunity to discuss preliminary ideas with others in the Faculty and I have proposed this for the agenda. Looking beyond the FOGS Review, I believe it would be useful to include in our annual AP a sub-section that deals with these issues on a continuing basis. The following are among the topics that I would like to include on an agenda for discussion:
Being a highly interdisciplinary unit with a focus on sustainability planning in its varied environmental, economic and social dimensions both locally and internationally, the School not only has much to offer other units of the University but also needs to build and maintain strong working relations with those that are closely related. Enhancing these interdisciplinary relations are key goals contained in TREK and the APs for the University and particularly FOGS. The School already has a remarkably diverse array of working relations with other units concentrated within FOGS. Four faculty members hold joint appointments in other units (Tim and I, IRE; Michael, IAR; Nora, Womens Studies) and there will be more with new hiring for joint chairs (i.e. Bombardier, SDRI; CN, Commerce). SCARP faculty members are involved in various ways in the programs of additional FOGS units (e.g. Bill, Peter and I in SDRI; Tom in the Liu Centre; Penny in IHPR, Tim in OCHP). At the same time, the School's courses are increasingly important to the growing array of interdisciplinary graduate programs of other units within FOGS, all of which have much more limited course offerings, some of which have approved degree programs (e.g. RMES, IAR, Journalism, IIGP) and others of which do not (e.g. SDRI, Fisheries).
As the Director of the School, I have become increasingly aware of the challenges involved in building and maintaining the growing diversity and complexity of the interrelationships among an expanding number of units. There are difficult choices to be made in striking an appropriate balance between the interests of the School and the interests of other units or the wider University. Most of the issues are not new in kind but they are becoming more difficult and frequent with the TREK priorities and initiatives such as CRC and CFI. As Director I must give first priority to ensuring the interests of the School are met and this raises questions such as:
Dealing with these issues requires action both within the School and outside of it. In the case of the latter, I propose to raise these issues as part of our input to the external review of FOGS and to include them as a subsection of future annual APs. To assist me in managing these issues more effectively on a continuing basis I propose to do two things.
First, I will ask appropriate faculty members to take the lead in building and maintaining our relations with other key units in which they are already engaged (e.g. Tim, IRE; Michael, IAR; etc).
Second, I will establish a task group to assess the pros and cons of the School's relationships with other units and to recommend strategies that we should employ and incorporate into our AP. I will specifically ask the task group to consider how best to use coordinating arrangements that already exist such as the Community Design Council (SCARP, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Civil) and whether it would be in our interest to propose creation of others where there is the need to better coordinate the development of course offerings.and degree and certificate programs (including joint possibilities).
As a professional planning school it is fundamentally important that we work closely with practitioners and their organizations. Being a professional school and one that is accredited in Canada (CIP) and the United States (PAB), differentiates us in important ways from most other units of the University. It means that the School has to respond to not only the academic goals of the university but also the developmental and practice goals of the profession and the communities it serves. How best to respond to these twin demands has been a long continuing and unresolved debate among academics and practitioners in planning.
Even though the School has worked with the profession in various ways over the years, I believe we need to engage more strongly with planning practitioners if we are to become the premier sustainability planning school in North America. In part this means doing more systematically, strategically and productively things we do already: involving practitioners in mentoring, teaching courses, hosting interns, directing guided studies, and advising students on professional projects and theses; partnering with practitioners and their organizations in capacity building and research projects; faculty, staff and students providing professional services to planning programs; members of the School joining organizations for professional planners and becoming active in them; and participating in each others conferences and workshops. But I believe we should also engage practitioners as well as other planning educators in a discussion about new directions for planning school programs including questions such as:
To begin engaging more strongly with the planning profession I am proposing to take three steps. First, I would like to identify a faculty member who would serve as the primary contact for the School's relations with each of the key groups of planning practitioners and educators. I will continue to work with PIBC and serve on its Education Committee and with ACUPP and the CWRA. I know others of you have been involved with CIP, ACSP and WPSC and will speak with each of you about being the School's contact with these organizations. Since many planning professionals do not belong to these organizations, I will be looking for ways to establish a point of contact with them. One way to do this would be to have a faculty member designated as the primary contact for employers of our graduates and another for our alumni.
Second, I propose that we utilize the events that we organize to mark the School's 50th anniversary as a key means to engage more strongly with the profession and address the questions identified above. Examples of how we might do this are
Third, as part of a fund raising campaign associated with marking the 50th anniversary, I propose to seek support for a "practitioners-in-residence program". The program could take various forms but would be intended to support experienced practitioners, for a period upto a year. During this time they would be located at the School and pursue a program of teaching, capacity building and research with faculty, staff and students. The program would be designed to meet both their interests and the School's and to engage other practitioners in specific ways that result in some enduring product such as a new program or project or a publication. Based on preliminary discussions possible contributors to funding would be the B.C. Real Estate Foundation and the new PIBC Foundation.
We are the School of Community and Regional Planning. Our vision is "Sustainability Through The Democratization of Planning". We advocate community-based planning and are engaged in it from the local to the international level with work ongoing in the communities of seven or more countries. Clearly working with communities is central to all that we do in our teaching, capacity building, research and service activities. In this we exemplify one of the core themes of TREK and the University AP.
Building and sustaining relations and partnerships with communities is extraordinarily time and energy consuming and the results are highly uncertain. For a small school, our faculty, staff and students are engaged in an enormous number of communities. It is my conclusion that we need to be much more strategic in developing and conducting our work with communities so as to generate greater pay-offs to them and for our efforts.
To begin being more strategic I propose to take three sets of actions. First, develop a subset of pages on the School's web site that provides information on faculty, staff and student involvement in communities. This can provide us with a much better appreciation of the extent and nature of ongoing activities with communities. In turn it can inform communities and others outside of the School as to what we are already working on and appropriate individuals to contact for further information or exploring future possibilities. Much of the information for this can be collected in the annual activity reports by faculty members and a summary set of pages can be linked to the extensive supplementary information about projects available on the CHS site. I will hire a student to create and maintain the community pages. I will also discuss with the PSA their interest in taking a lead role in this as building the School's community relations was a key goal and action item of the CAPS Conference organized last year by the SCARP students.
Second, organize events to mark the 50th anniversary so that they advance our thinking on how the School can be most productively involved in working with communities. The time is right to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the diverse approaches that we have been taking in partnering with communities and to explore experience from elsewhere in shaping our future initiatives. This topic can be pursued as an integral part of the events suggested in the previous section focusing on relations with the planning profession. It too is an excellent candidate topic for us to organize at next year's CIP conference in Vancouver. And likewise, the results can be published in articles and commemorative books and progressively incorporated into our strategic planning and annual APs.
Third, explore how the School could better balance and complement the strengths of its work focused on other countries with a more substantial program of activities relating to Canada and particularly B.C. For all kinds of reasons we should be making a strong contribution at home. There are many ways in which such activities might be focused and build on work that is already ongoing. I see three foci as particularly meriting consideration: Greater Vancouver, interior B.C., and First Nations. Maged and I have re-designed the second offering of the Omnibus to begin exploring the Greater Vancouver possibilities more specifically and we will be sending you information about that shortly. The B.C. Real Estate Foundation has responded most positively to the idea of the School working more closely with communities struggling to cope with adjustment and I am discussing with them the possibility of additional funding that would support courses like those in Royston and Sechelt and that would provide financial support to students who undertake related project and thesis research. Peter continues to work with First Nations communities and I will seek his advice on what we might do in this area. Through the fall I would like to identify what kind of 50th anniversary events we might organize to advance our thinking and planning about the foci for our work with communities in B.C.
I want to first discuss this letter with each of the permanent faculty members before distributing it to the staff, students, Dean, adjuncts and others for their comments and suggestions. I would like to have it generally available for the beginning of the new term so that it provides the context for a variety of key decisions that we need to make as a School and that I need to take as Director. I will post the text of the letter and its attachments on my web site to facilitate ready and continuing access.
My primary purpose in drafting this letter is to re-confirm your support for my Directorship. I felt this was necessary because I am proposing significant changes in the light of my experiences over the last two years and my perception of our future prospects.
Fundamental to my proposals is my belief that we need to unambiguously and resolutely commit ourselves to the One School, Integrated Programs vision and all it implies. Key implications for me as Director are that I make myself more accountable, share responsibilities more widely, and make much greater efforts to ensure we have the conversations without which we can never achieve all that we aspire to and is possible.
I have indicated a series of actions that I would propose to take in putting this into practice. They include both decisions that would be made immediately, such as establishing the position of SCARP Associate Director (CHS), and processes for making further decisions in the upcoming months and years, in particular through ongoing strategic planning, the production of our annual AP, and the opportunities for capitalizing on the School's 50th anniversary.
I see the anniversary as presenting a great opportunity to organize a series of interrelated events that are strategically selected and designed to advance our thinking, recognition, and achievements in key areas for the School. I will take the lead in organizing this and will establish a task force to plan and implement it.
In presenting my original vision and plans for the Directorship, I established three tripwire questions for guiding my future decisions on whether I should continue in the position. First, do I have the support of the School and the Dean? Second, does my family support my continuation as Director? Third, am I still able to meet my target time for the Grouse Grind? Over the next few weeks, I want to use this letter to initiate the discussions that are necessary for addressing the first two questions. At the same time, I need to challenge myself to do better on the Grind and find out the answer to the third.
I look forward to discussing my ideas with you.