15th November 1998
Dr. Robert Blake,
Faculty of Graduate Studies,
The University of British Columbia,
6371 Crescent Road,
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2
Dear Dr. Blake,
Thank you for sending me a copy of the advertisement for the position of Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning. This letter is to indicate my interest in being considered for this position. Below I briefly highlight my experience and qualifications for the position and sketch my vision for the School. The accompanying CV provides further details and the names of three referees are attached.
EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
I know the School and am a product of it
I have worked with the students, faculty and staff in SCARP since 1971 when I came to the University of British Columbia as a founding member of the Westwater Research Centre. Since 1982 I have been a faculty member appointed in the School. Over the last 26 years I have had the opportunity to observe and work with five previous SCARP directors who have brought the School to where it is the premier planning school in Canada and ranked among the best in North America by the Planning Accreditation Board.
I am a planner
Ever since my graduate studies in regional planning at the University of Wisconsin, I have considered planning to be both my academic discipline and profession. In the School's files you will find this documented in the cases for my tenure award (1987) and subsequent promotions to Associate Professor (1987) and Professor (1992). You will also note that I have been a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners for over 20 years.
My research and professional practice has focussed on planning
Most of my research and professional activity has had a planning focus even though it has been primarily associated with my joint appointment in Westwater and the Institute for Resources and Environment. Throughout the first two decades of my appointment in the Centre, I had extensive experience in not only funding and leading large interdisciplinary research projects but also administration involving the University's finance, human resources and purchasing departments.
I have facilitated multistakeholder planning processes from the local to the international level
Over the last decade, I have had increasingly varied research and professional experience, as a facilitator of multistakeholder processes from the provincial to the international level through challenging assignments outside of the university, including:
B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the
Economy (1990-'94). One of 31 provincial
government appointments to the Round Table mandated to develop a sustainability
strategy for the province I worked with ministers, senior civil servants
and diverse stakeholders from all sectors and travelled throughout the
communities of the province.
Inaugural Chair Fraser Basin Management Board
(1992-'94). Reporting directly to the
federal and provincial ministers and the mayors of the Fraser Basin communities,
I was responsible for establishing the 18 member multistakeholder Board
and its secretariat and leading its operations during its first two years
International facilitation and mediation (1997-'98). At the request of the World Bank and in association
with IUCN, UNDP and CIDA, I have been involved in designing and implementing
three facilitated international multistakeholder processes: the first resulting
in the creation of the World Commission on Dams; the second producing an
agreement for sustainable development initiatives among the 10 countries
in the Nile River Basin; and the third, which is just beginning, reviewing
the Bank's global forestry policies and developing a new strategy.
I have worked at the senior research administration level in UBC
Since 1995, I have been the Chair of the UBC Hampton Research Fund Committee which is responsible for the allocation of funding for research in the social sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts under the provisions of the Hampton Fund; International Travel, Small and Large Grants; and Grants to New Faculty. For the last three years, I have also been a member of the Executive Committee for Research of the Vice-President Research. These two assignments have given me a unique opportunity to get to know the University's incredibly diverse research community and to participate in developing the UBC Research Plan.
In summary, I believe my knowledge of the School, University and wider communities and my experience in teaching, research, professional practice and administration qualify me for the job. But more importantly the depth and breadth of my planning experience have prepared me well for capitalizing on the opportunities and meeting the challenges that I anticipate the Planning School will face as it enters into the next millenium.
The premier School for sustainability planning in North America
Over the years the School has articulated and pursued with great success a unique vision of sustainability planning. This is laid out in great detail in the documents prepared for the upcoming five year review by the Planning Accreditation Board. If I should become the next Director, I would aspire to build on all that has been achieved by the students, staff and faculty in pursuing this vision. My goal would be to have UBC recognized as having the premier sustainability planning school in North America by the time of the PAB Review in 2004.
My SWOT analysis
The primary strengths of the School reside in the rich diversity of experience and talent among its faculty, staff and students. Its major weaknesses stem from fragmentation of efforts and the neglect of its own community. The opportunities are immense with the growing demand worldwide for sustainability planning and UBC's emerging development plan focusing on the School's fortes in interdisciplinarity, internationalization and information generation. At the same time the threats are daunting as declining financial resources and increasing demands burn out staff, students and faculty and newly emerging programs increasingly compete against us.
My strategy - working together
If I am appointed Director my major focus will be on improving the ways we work together. I will focus on building new working arrangements and partnerships among faculty, staff and students within the School and with the larger community across the campus and outside the University. I believe there are huge opportunities for us to gain by working together more productively to exploit our strengths, remedy our weaknesses, capitalize on our opportunities and avoid threats.
My style - collaborative leadership
I will provide intellectual and administrative leadership by challenging our thinking, building consensus and acting in a timely fashion in the light of the advice I receive. When there is not a consensus or I decide to act contrary to the advice I receive, I will give my reasons. I will share the decision making responsibilities by establishing short-term task groups consisting of faculty, staff, students and various others, such as alumni, whenever appropriate. I will endeavour to give ample notice when decisions are needed and keep people informed of those I take. I will establish an intranet, along the lines of the one I have created for myself during the past year, to facilitate the distribution of information and foster dialogue among the SCARP faculty, staff and students and through the School's homepage involve our wider communities.
Among my priorities for early action
Below I indicate three closely related areas which I believe deserve priority and in which I would propose new actions:
Planning for Planning:
We need to make better use of our planning skills to better influence our
own destiny. To capitalize on the rich array of diverse opportunties and
head off the threats we face, there needs to be a greater emphasis on explicitly
and jointly choosing what we do, how we do it and when. I would establish
an annual planning cycle through which we agree on priorities; set targets;
make commitments; integrate teaching, research and community activities;
balance workloads; create incentives; allocate support; and stage change.
It would also consider the multi-year issues relating to renewing faculty
and staff; sequencing leaves; student recruiting; program development,
Review and Feedback on Our Performance: As Director I will actively seek continuing review and
feedback on my performance from the faculty, staff and students so that
I can learn how to do a better job. If at any time I sense that I have
lost the support of the School, I would resign. I will also give great
emphasis to constructive, supportive, and timely review and feedback among
faculty, staff and students in all areas of our teaching, research, community
and administrative activities. Performance indicators will be developed
in the planning process.
Professionalism, the Profession and the Community: Being one of the professional units of the university
makes us distinctive but being a professional school in planning makes
us unique and gives us a special relationship with the wider community.
I propose to draw on the University's emerging strategic plan and the results
of the upcoming five-year accreditation reviews by the CIP and PAB to initiate
a review of our activities and programs raising questions about what the
School's role should be in producing new academics and professionals, working
with the professions involved in planning, and serving the wider community.
In this context, we would consider future directions for the doctoral and
In summary, if I am appointed Director I would strive to work with others in making the School a place where we have deep satisfaction and immense pride in our achievements, celebrate our successes, enjoy working, and have fun.
I look forward to having the opportunity of discussing my ideas for the Directorship in more detail with the School's faculty, staff and students and the Search Committee.
Anthony H. J. Dorcey