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Faculty of health initiative

May 9, 2023 (updated Feb. 23, 2024)

Through a Senate-led process, UVic is exploring a new faculty at UVic to enhance our health profile. This would not be a net-new faculty but the reimagining of existing faculty/division(s) that already include several health-related programs. The Faculty of Human and Social Development and the Division of Medical Sciences are viable options, given their existing teaching and research strengths, but there is no pre-determined outcome.

This new faculty will highlight our strengths in health education, training and research and provide a stronger external profile to attract students, faculty, research chairs and partners. The intention is to lift up all Faculties across the university while also serving vital community needs, including through Indigenous-led scholarship and addressing systemic barriers to healthcare.

Consideration must be given to the potential impact on all faculties, including to avoid units competing for top-performing teachers and researchers.

Special meeting of Senate on Feb. 9, 2024

At a special, livestreamed meeting of Senate on Feb. 9, the Committee presented recommendations for the establishment of the Faculty of Health and received feedback. An omnibus motion, with supporting materials, will be posted and shared with Senate for a vote at their March 1, 2024 meeting.

Background

In 2018, the Offices of the Vice-President Academic and Provost and the Vice-President Research and Innovation launched the UVic Health Initiative (formally known as the Health Sciences Initiative) to enhance the quality and raise the profile of health research, programs and related activities at UVic. The resulting concept paper, released in November 2019 following nine months of consultations with leaders and stakeholders, recommends ways to unite health learners, educators and researchers.

While much of this work paused during the global pandemic, we have emerged in an even better position to address many of the recommendations from the concept paper that have yet to be advanced, including a structure for interdisciplinary academic programs and research related to health.

Opportunities

UVic has a compelling and timely opportunity to strengthen our health profile—delivering essential programs, training professionals and conducting community-relevant research here on Vancouver Island.

The vision supports a health structure that external stakeholders will see and recognize. It will be transformative for UVic in many positive ways, including with respect to:

  • interdisciplinary research, teaching and work;
  • engagement with the community on population health, Indigenous health and other priority areas;
  • student recruitment, including graduate students and post-docs; and
  • faculty and staff recruitment and collaboration. 

As well, it has the potential to generate more donor funds, sponsored research and government support, including for academic expansions.

Ad-hoc Senate committee

This is a Senate-led process, with academics comprising the majority of the committee. As per the BC University Act, final approval for a faculty rests with the Board of Governors on the recommendation of Senate. An ad-hoc Senate committee chaired by the Deputy Provost is leading this initiative, including identifying and consulting with stakeholders, moving through the approval processes, and developing communications.

Senate Committee on Academic Health Programming

  • Helga Hallgrímsdóttir, Deputy Provost (ex-officio and Chair)*
  • Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey, Associate Vice-President Academic Programs (ex-officio)*
  • Carrie Andersen, University Secretary (ex-officio)
  • Vanessa Andreotti, Dean, Faculty of Education (ex-officio as of July 1)*
  • Lisa Bourque Bearskin, Faculty of HSD (VP Indigenous nominee)*
  • Tony Eder, Associate Vice-President Academic Resource Planning (ex-officio)

  • Lindsay Gagel, Director, Academic Communications and Projects (ex-officio)
  • Lois Harder, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences (ex-officio)*
  • Robin Hicks, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies (ex-officio)*
  • Fraser Hof, Associate Vice-President Research (ex-officio)*
  • Sandra Hundza, Faculty of Education (Senate nominee)*
  • Cole Kennedy (graduate student representative)*
  • Darryl Knight, Providence Health Care (President nominee)*
  • Nathan Lachowsky, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of HSD (ex-officio)*
  • Peter Loock, Dean, Faculty of Science (ex-officio)*
  • Simon Minshall, Faculty of HSD (Senate nominee)*
  • Nathaniel Sukhdeo (undergraduate student representative)*
  • Wendy Taylor, A/University Registrar (ex-officio)

  • Bruce Wright, Head, Division of Medical Sciences (ex-officio)*
  • Ashley Fitterer, Senior Project Officer (support)

*Voting

Process

We are undertaking a consultative, collegial and transparent process, with faculty, staff and students empowered to participate in consultations towards enhanced collaborations, connections and scholarship.

Project phases

The project will have at least three distinct phases:

  • Phase 1 (September 2023 to March 2024) - consulting and determining an initial set of recommendations to Senate regarding the foundational programs and units, a draft rationale, a name, and interim appointment procedures for the dean.
  • Phase 2 (March 2024 to fall 2024) - additional consultations, refining the rationale and organizational structure, and the launching of parallel processes outside of Senate's scope (e.g., labour relations, operations, etc.), including to support transitions and individuals impacted by change.
  • Phase 3 (fall 2024 to 2025) - the scope of phase 3 will be determined during phase 2, with the new dean, and could include new or continued parallel processes. It's important to note that, as per the University Act, faculties have agenda to determine their own vision and strategic priorities.

Project milestones

Working groups and parallel processes

Given the scope of the work, it will be necessary to break into working groups to advance this work in an inclusive and timely way. The following working groups have been formed:

  • Health Survey Working Group (July-September 2023)
  • Indigenous Health working group (September 2023-present) - discussing a distinctions-based approach
  • Senate Timeline Working Group (October 2023-present) - calendaring timelines and regulations for transfer and articulation

The committee will also need to coordinate with parallel processes that are outside of Senate’s jurisdiction and that are meaningful to the work. Processes underway include:

  • Health Futures Institute - led by VPRI
  • Academic Program Expansions (of existing programs) - led by VPAC

Parallel processes outside of Senate's scope during phase 2 and/or phase 3 will likely include labour relations and human resources, including supporting faculty who request to move to another unit as per the Collective Agreement process. We also expect to address space considerations in phase 2 or 3. There will also be a considerable amount of work for the Office of the Registrar and Enrolment Management.

Resources & FAQs

This proposal is connected to our university plans and direction, and in particular the new strategic plan and Aspiration 2030. It will be important to ensure any changes align with the Equity Action Plan and, once launched, the new Indigenous plan (for example, through increasing access and opportunities for systemically and historically marginalized groups). We need to ensure we have the structures in place to respond to community needs and find solutions to current and emerging crises.

  • In BC and across Canada there is urgent need for health care professionals and community health and wellness supports.
  • The BC Government is interested in expanding opportunities for health education to address urgent needs in BC communities across the province. They have indicated their willingness to fund new seats in medicine, nursing, and allied health professions such as social work, health information science, public health, health administration and leadership, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology.
  • It will be important for us to establish our strengths in health and wellness and their connection to community to remain competitive with other Canadian universities.

This proposal is not motivated by budget and we do not anticipate needing any new resources, as we are not creating a net-new faculty. Instead, we are re-imagining how we can reorganize existing academic units and programs. This means we will have no additional Deans than we currently do.

While this initiative may have positive resource implications and savings through centralizing or sharing resources, it is not a primary motivation for change. That said, this proposal also has the potential to generate revenue through enhanced student recruitment, government-funded program expansions, research grants and donor funding.

The Committee heard through the campus-wide survey that it will be important to “right size” faculties as we work to create a Faculty of Health. This includes the Faculty of Health as well as other faculties potentially impacted. (For example, as per the draft rationale, the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education has indicated that they wish to move from the Faculty of Education to the Faculty of Health.)

There is no formula for a "right" size, but there are considerations and comparisons that can be helpful. For example, number of schools and departments, number of undergraduate programs, number of graduate programs, number of faculty members, number of enrolled students, student-to-faculty ratio, and/or budget and resources. To support an informed vote, the Committee presented Senate with some of this information at a special meeting on Feb. 9, 2024.

Proposed Faculty of Health:

  • Number of schools: 6
  • Number of faculty: 104.1 FTE
  • Approximate number of students: 1,850 FTE
  • Student-faculty ratio: 17.7

See the proposed organizational chart.

When the Committee began their work, there were no predetermined outcomes and no departments, schools or programs yet identified to be included in the new faculty. Through consultations, the Committee is initially recommending the following schools be included in the Faculty of Health:

  • School of Health Information Science
  • School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education
  • School of Medical Sciences
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Public Health and Social Policy
  • School of Social Work

We plan to bring an omnibus motion to the March 2024 meeting of Senate for approval, and then to the Board of Governors. The process for determining the new faculty structure is iterative, and there may be additional program recommendations for the May 2024 meeting of Senate.

The process of moving units from one faculty/division to another will take significantly more time and will be part of the focus during phase 2 in 2024/25.

Based on other significant structural changes at UVic, including when we disestablished the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to create the Faculties of Social Sciences, Science, and Humanities in the early 1990s, this project will take several months of planning and consultation. 

The Committee first came together in June 2023, with project planning beginning in the summer. The bulk of the work and consultations began in September 2023, working towards taking a draft mandate and organizational structure to Senate in early 2024. We anticipate Senate and the Board voting on an omnibus motion in March 2024, with the Faculty of Health to become fully operational on May 1, 2025.

There are several phases of the project. Determining the faculty's foundational units and mandate in phase 1 will provide certainty to units and individuals who are wondering if they will be affected by the organizational change, and also allow the Committee sufficient time to determine supports and processes for those units and individuals, including through parallel processes in phase 2.

UVic is not contemplating a medical school at this time. We are also not creating a net-new faculty or division.

Parallel processes outside of Senate's scope during phase 2 and/or phase 3 could include:

  • Space, capital and operations – with Vice-President Finance and Operations
  • Labour relations – with Faculty Relations and Academic Administration, Human Resources, the Faculty Association, CUPE unions and the PEA
  • Partnership and innovation – with Vice-President Research and Innovation
  • Community engagement – with Vice-President External Relations
  • Government relations – with Vice-President Academic and Provost and Vice-President External Relations

*Recently updated

Updates to campus

If you have questions, please email healthfaculty@uvic.ca. This address is monitored by the Committee's support team.