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Wilfrid Laurier University Office of the Vice-President:  Finance  and  Administration
October 1, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

Frequently Asked Questions



The Frequently Asked Questions portion of the IPRM site will be a dynamic section - updated regularly as new information and questions arise throughout the process. If you have a question that you would like answered, please email IPRM@wlu.ca



Frequently Asked Questions
 
Why are we undertaking IPRM?

As resources tighten, and as global competition escalates, it is increasingly important that we make choices about defining and enhancing Laurier’s areas of excellence, and that we do this together as a community. No university can be exceptional in all areas, and for universities to flourish in the future it is necessary that they define and support the principles and priorities that make them strong.

The Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) process is an essential initiative for the future of Wilfrid Laurier University that is intended to accomplish this objective.

At the heart of this process is the question, “How will we continue to make Laurier a better institution?” To answer this, we need to identify key principles and priorities that are critically important as we look strategically toward the future. Then we need to put resources toward those priorities.

In other words, the IPRM process is about putting incremental resources in the hands of those who will help us to thrive and placing us in the best position to meet the challenges and opportunities of our second century.

 
How will the IPRM process work?

Please click here for information on how the IPRM process works.

 
How were IPRM workshop participants selected? Who attended?

The first IPRM workshop took place in April, 2012. Participants were identified by a number of vice-presidents and included: members of the Board of Governors, Senate, President’s Group, Vice-president Academic Advisory Council (VPAC) and a cross-section of faculty members, union members and administration. The second workshop in June, 2012 included members of the same groups as the April workshop. In addition, deans were invited to put forward names of faculty members who they would like to attend. Invitations were made to ensure proportional representation by all academic faculties. 

Additional workshops took place on August 27 (Waterloo, Faculty only), August 28 (Brantford, faculty and staff), September 13 (Board of Governors), September 18 (Waterloo, faculty and staff), October 10 (faculty and staff) and October 11 (faculty and staff).

 
What is the structure and mandate of IPRM working groups?

There are four IPRM teams as illustrated in the project structure. These teams were constructed according to established criteria for membership and a clear mandate. Neither the president nor any vice presidents are members of these working groups. Members of the working teams were identified through a process of nominations followed by a blended process of both elections and appointments. This process is described in the call for nominations document.

 
Who can nominate team members for IPRM task force/working groups

All members of the university community were invited to nominate people based on established criteria for membership on each team. Individuals were also able to self-nominate. The nominations process resulted in a list of nominations for all four IPRM teams. The teams were constructed from the nominations list via a process that involves both elections and appointments.

Although not essential, people were advised to participate in one of the IPRM workshops before putting forward a nomination.  


 
How can I provide my input?

All Laurier faculty and staff will have multiple opportunities for meaningful input. There will also be opportunities for student input.

All members of Laurier faculty and staff along with student representatives were invited to participate in one of the IPRM workshops that took place up to October 2012. As IPRM progresses, there will be further opportunities to participate in IPRM. More information will be provided about these opportunities as they are defined. 

All academic and administrative units will be invited to make submissions – using a specific template – about their programs. In addition, there will be other opportunities to provide views including at workshops and town halls, and other methods that will be implemented by the PTF and working teams throughout the process.

 
Can contract academic staff participate?

Yes, all members of the Laurier community including contract academic staff can participate. CAS members were included in the open invitation for August faculty-only IPRM workshops and they were eligible to be members of the PTF, and Academic, Administrative and Resource Allocation teams.

 
Is there a budget-reduction target associated with IPRM?

No.

 
Are we doing this because of our financial situation?

No. While the financial situation for post-secondary institutions in the province of Ontario is challenging, the focus of the IPRM process is about setting priorities and putting resources toward those priorities for the long-term improvement of the university.

This exercise will secure our future success in a competitive post-secondary education environment.

 
How will programs be prioritized?

The PTF has approved criteria by which all academic programs and administrative programs will be evaluated. Different criteria will apply for academic and administrative programs. The academic priorities team will carry out the evaluation of academic programs and the administrative priorities team will carry out the evaluation of administrative programs. 

Based on information provided via templates by Laurier community members in each program area, the academic and administrative priorities teams will each make prioritization recommendations to the PTF. Prioritization recommendations will place each program in one of five categories: 1. Enhance, 2. Transform with additional resources 3. Maintain or transform without new resources, 4. Transform with fewer resources, 5. Phase out or minimize. The PTF will review the recommendations and will make final recommendations in a report. The final document produced by the PTF will be transmitted directly to the Senate and Board without modification by the president and vice presidents. The president and vice presidents have opportunity to comment on the PTF report when it is considered by Senate and the Board, and they may make formal representation to the Senate and/or Board with views that are independent of those contained in the PTF report.

 
What constitutes a program in the IPRM context?

For the purposes of IPRM, a program is defined as having a common set of activities that can be discretely defined, has clear and definable clientele, and consumes resources.

The Academic and Administrative Priorities teams have compiled a comprehensive list of academic and administrative programs based on input from and consultation with deans and administrative areas. 

The list of programs will be approved by the PTF.  

 
What are the criteria for evaluating Academic Programs?

The Academic Priorities Team has established program evaluation criteria that has been approved by the PTF. Please click here for a list of program criteria and weightings.

 
What are the criteria for evaluating Non-Academic Programs?

The Administrative Priorities Team has established program evaluation criteria that have been approved by the PTF. Please click here for a list of program evaluation criteria and weightings.

 
Will “potential for growth” of a program be one of the criteria?

Will “potential for growth” within a program be one of the criteria for determining the prioritization of that program?
Prioritization criteria has been approved by the PTF. "Opportunities" is included in the criteria for both academic and administrative programs. For a list of program evaluation criteria and weightings, please click here

 
How is IPRM different than what the university has done before?

This initiative is designed to identify and support university priorities, and it will lead to choices about prioritization and resource allocation for academic and administrative programs. IPRM builds on previous planning processes such as Envisioning Laurier, the Academic Plan and the Campus Master plan; however, its resource management and prioritization approach make it a unique process that has not been undertaken at Laurier before.

 
How does IPRM relate to Laurier’s annual goals and objectives?

The “Goals and Objectives 2012-2013” document sets out the university's short-term goals and objectives for the year beginning September 2012. These goals are developed annually to identify immediate institutional priorities that in turn guide the priorities and efforts of the senior administration team.

IPRM will likely last for more than a year. In the meantime, the normal operations of the university must carry on. This means that activities such as multi-campus governance implementation, new program development, or other strategic initiatives will not stop. It also means that major capital projects such as the Global Innovation Exchange and Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science will be advanced during this time. However, all programs, including those identified in the Goals and Objectives 2012-2013 document, will be subject to the same rigorous prioritization process.  

 
What is the role of the consultants?

An external consultant has been engaged to assist the university with the IPRM process. The external consultant brings to the project years of experience developing similar initiatives at other post-secondary institutions, including other Canadian universities. Their role is to advise on the project based on experience with what works well, but direct consultant involvement is actually very limited. IPRM is very much a process tailored to Laurier’s needs. The vast majority of the work and all decisions are in the hands of members of the Laurier community, including the many committee members and the PTF.

 
Will there be reallocation, and what does this mean?

It is expected that the PTF will make recommendations on the reallocation of resources. Reallocation means reallocating people, financial resources, infrastructure, space or time. Resources will be reallocated based on the priorities that are established, and some units will receive more resources than currently, while others will receive less.

 
How would phasing out work within the collective agreement?

If programs or positions are phased out, how will they be phased out within the collective agreement?
Collective agreements will be respected throughout the implementation process. It is unknown at this time whether any positions will be phased out.

 
Will people lose their jobs?

Not necessarily, but there is potential for budget reductions imposed by the provincial government, layoffs or transfers to high priority areas from low priority areas (this would be one form of reallocation of resources).

 
How will Laurier's sense of community be affected?

Laurier’s sense of community is often cited as one of its main strengths. How will this be affected by this process? 

It is because of, rather than despite, Laurier’s strong community spirit that the process of defining priorities must be carried out collectively. The PTF and three teams, based on input and evidence from the community, will be posing and answering challenging questions about the activities the university does well and the activities we are doing that do not support Laurier’s priorities.

Because the process of setting priorities and making choices is challenging it is important that all members of our community have an effective voice.

 
What support will be provided to faculties and departments?

What support will be provided to faculties and departments as they proceed through the IPRM process?

Every reasonable effort will be made to provide faculties and departments the data necessary to complete templates. Other support will include facilitation of planning efforts and guidance on the criteria for evaluation. As the IPRM process rolls out, the needs of departments will become clearer and every effort will be made to provide appropriate levels of support. The President and Vice Presidents commit to making themselves available for discussion throughout the process.

 
Will programs be shut down?

Not necessarily. If administrative or academic programs are identified that no longer align with our principles and priorities as currently structured then they may be transformed or phased out.

 
Why IPRM? Why not use another process?

IPRM was identified as highly appropriate to the Laurier community because it is led by the faculty, staff and students of the university and it engages the entire university community in the task of making choices about our collective future. It is a community-based and highly inclusive process for decision-making about choices that are important for the future of the university.

 
Will there be course remissions for those on IPRM committees?

Will there be any course remissions for participation on the IPRM committees?

No, except possibly for those chairing the PTF and the three support teams. Participation in IPRM is part of service to the university community.

 
Will part-time employees be paid for participation on the PTF?

Will part-time employees (such as CAS) be paid for participation on the PTF or a support team?

No, this is considered university service. Participation is voluntary.

 
How will Laurier’s Senate & Board be involved in IPRM?

How will Laurier's Senate and Board of Governors be involved in the IPRM process?
Laurier’s Senate and Board of Governors will have review and decision-making roles in the IPRM process in accordance with their respective governance roles outlined in the Wilfrid Laurier University Act. The Senate and Board of Governors will not do anything as part of the IPRM process that is in contravention to their legislative authority and contractual obligations.

While the work of the PTF is in progress:
  The PTF will be asked to provide Senate and Board of Governors with periodic reports and updates outlining progress of the IPRM process.  

Report from the PTF: As part of its mandate, the PTF will be asked to prepare a report outlining recommendations on Laurier’s academic and administrative priorities along with recommendations on a new resource allocation mechanism for the university. This report from the PTF will be given directly to the Senate. When Senate receives the report from the PTF, it will review and, if so desired, ask for further information from the PTF. Senate may choose to comment on the report, and will make a recommendation to the Board of Governors. The recommendation may be to reject the report, to accept the report with changes, to approve some recommendations of the PTF but not all or to approve all recommendations in the report.  

When the Board of Governors receives the PTF report along with the comments and recommendations from Senate, the Board of Governors may reject the report; they may ask for clarification on certain items; they may approve some recommendations of the report but not all; or they may approve all recommendations in the report. It is expected that the Board of Governors will include in its considerations comments and recommendations from the Senate, and any comments it receives from the President and Senior VPs in a letter accompanying the report. The President and Senior Vice Presidents will not modify the original report. Following its review, the Board of Governors will make a recommendation for further action.

Implementing Recommendations: The implementation process will take place over time. The implementation of the recommendations approved by the Board of Governors will follow the regular Senate and Board processes already in place at the University for academic and non-academic areas as outlined in the Wilfrid Laurier University Act. For example, if it was recommended that a program get new resources or be transformed, Senate and the Board would be involved in these changes in the same way they have in the past, as outlined in the University Act. IPRM will not change any existing governance processes.

For more information about the specific roles of Senate and the Board of Governors, please click here.

 
Is IPRM allowed within the University Act?

Yes. IPRM is an input-gathering process that works within existing University processes; it is not an entity unto itself. Through IPRM, information will be gathered from the University community and given by the PTF to Senate and the Board of Governors in the form of recommendations – in the same way as other processes such as multi-campus governance. Nothing about IPRM changes the existing rights and processes that are already in place for Senate and the Board of Governors under the University Act. The implementation of any recommendations that come out of IPRM will also follow the regular processes in place for implementing academic and financial decisions. Senate and the Board of Governors’ involvement in implementation will be consistent with their roles as identified in the University Act. 

 
What will Senate do when it gets the IPRM report from PTF?

When Senate receives the report from the PTF, it will review and, if so desired, ask for further information from the PTF. Senate may choose to comment on the report, and will make a recommendation to the Board of Governors. The recommendation may be to reject the report, to accept the report with changes, to approve some recommendations of the Board but not all or to approve all recommendations in the report.  

 
What will the Board do when it gets the IPRM report from Senate?

What will the Board of Governors do when it gets the IPRM report from Senate?
The Board of Governors will review the report from the Planning Task Force, along with the comments and recommendations it receives from the Senate, and any comments it receives from the President and Senior VPs in a letter accompanying the report. The President and Senior Vice Presidents will not modify the original report. The Board of Governors may reject the report; they may ask for clarification on certain items; they may approve some recommendations of the report but not all; or they may approve all recommendations in the report. Following its review, the Board of Governors will make a recommendation for further action. The implementation of the recommendations approved by the Board of Governors will follow regular processes in place at the University for academic and non-academic areas as outlined in the University Act.

 
What happens after the review and approval process?

After the review/approval process, the implementation process will begin. The implementation will follow the regular Senate and Board processes already in place at the University for academic and non-academic areas that are outlined in the Wilfrid Laurier University Act. For example, if it was recommended that a program receive new resources or a program be transformed or phased out, these recommendations would be implemented in the same way they have in the past – they would go through existing University processes and the Senate and the Board would be involved according to their appropriate roles outlined in the University Act. IPRM will not change any existing governance processes.

 
Why does the Board have a role in academic matters within IPRM?

Why does the Board of Governors have a role in academic matters within the IPRM? Isn’t that reserved for Senate?

The Board of Governors’ input into academic matters within IPRM is consistent with its legislative authority as outlined in the University Act.

The University Act gives the Board of Governors the power of management of the University.  This includes control over all financial matters, such as property and revenues, and authority over its business and affairs, except with respect to matters assigned by the Act to Senate.

The Act gives the Senate the power to establish the educational policies of the University and over academic matters, except where there is the expenditure of funds, which is under the authority of the Board of Governors. Senate also has authority to make recommendations to the Board of Governors on any matter relative to the operation of the University.  

The bicameral governance system is a truly shared one in which both Senate and the Board of Governors are required to act in carrying out their respective obligations. For example, Senate and its standing committees would be directly involved in the development and approval of a new academic department in a Faculty at Laurier. The Board of Governors and its standing committees would also be directly involved and responsible for the final approval of the establishment of the proposed new department by virtue of their responsibility to approve the expenditure of university funds.

The implementation of any recommendations that come out of IPRM would follow existing governance procedures as outlined in the University Act.  

 
How much of IPRM is tied to government's SMAs?

How much of this initiative is tied to the government’s strategic mandate agreements?
IPRM is an internal process. The timing is right based on the planning that we’ve done in the past, especially given mandates from the government. We need to align ourselves to be able to respond strategically and have the ability to effectively meet the mandate from the government.  

 
How can program evaluation criteria be fair to all areas?

How can the criteria used for evaluating the programs be fair to all areas (such as smaller programs)?
The academic and administrative prioritization teams will have responsibility for selecting the criteria and weightings that will be used to evaluate programs. They will be responsible for ensuring that the criteria are appropriate for identifying the strengths of all programs.  All criteria are weighted differently. It is likely that different programs will score differently under different criteria depending on their characteristics and relative strengths.

 
How do you ensure task force members don't lobby for their area?

How do you ensure that task force members don’t simply lobby to protect their own areas?
All task force members must make decisions that are in the best interest of the institution. Maintaining this perspective will be a big part of the task force training sessions. It is expected that an institutional perspective will be a key part of the mandate of the IPRM working groups. Co-chairs will be charged with ensuring that this principle is adhered to during the course of the work.  

 
I'm hearing skepticism about our financial process.

I’m hearing skepticism about our financial process. People don’t understand why our budget shows a dire financial forecast and then our financial statements show a surplus.
The university’s budget is a plan for the upcoming year that incorporates assumptions based on the best information available at the time the budget is prepared. Budgets are essential financial tools for guiding any organization. They are entirely different from year-end financial statements, but both play vital roles in the financial health of an organization. Over the past several years, the University has actively communicated key budget assumptions to the Laurier community regarding government funding and pension-plan deficiency payments. The government-funding assumptions have turned out to be better than predicted, which has contributed to surpluses in the operating fund. While this outcome is most welcome, it does not change the fact that the university must still set its budget each year with the best available information at the time of budget preparation.

Furthermore, the university is planning for IPRM in the context of a very uncertain provincial environment relating to our capacity to set or increase tuition fees, deal with our pension deficit and the overall funding envelope for post-secondary education.

 
Why can faculty be on admin grp but admin can't be on academic?

Why can faculty members serve on the Administrative Priorities Task Force but administrative staff can’t serve on the Academic Priorities Task Force?
Faculty members are permitted to serve on the Administrative Priorities Task Force because they are stakeholders who have an interest in and are affected by the services the administrative programs provide. Administrators do not have the same stakeholder interest in academic programs.  

 
Will new or transforming programs be evaluated? If so, how?

What about new programs that don’t have enough data or those going through transformations. Will they be evaluated, and if so, how?
These programs will be evaluated as part of the process, but consideration would be made of their early stage of development and time needed to grow and meet their potential.  

 
Who will collect the data necessary to complete the templates?

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning will provide all relevant program data that is held centrally. Program areas will be asked to identify and fill gaps and also provide qualitative data and information on the future plans and direction of the program area.  

 
Are we changing Laurier’s mission statement as part of IPRM?

Laurier’s official mission statement will not be changed.

 
Will IPRM be incorporated into cyclical reviews going forward?

How does the IPRM work long-term? Will it be incorporated into existing cyclical reviews?
IPRM is intended to provide a road map for the continued future success of the university.  Although there are no current plans that the exercise will be repeated in the coming years, it is envisaged that the time will come when it is appropriate for Laurier to repeat IPRM as part of ensuring its continued success. Cyclical reviews of academic and administrative reviews will be informed by the future choices made by the Senate and Board regarding the IPRM report.  Cyclical reviews are always informed by the current context of a program within its unit and of the university within the Ontario PSE system.

 
How can students participate in the IPRM process?

Students will have an opportunity to be involved throughout the IPRM process.

The PTF will have one undergraduate and one graduate student member, the Academic Priorities Team will have two graduate student members, the Administrative Priorities team will have two undergraduate student members and the Resource Management Team will have one graduate student member and one undergraduate student member. At least one of the undergraduate student members will be a Laurier Brantford student.

Nominations are not required for students. Students will be appointed by the Wilfrid Laurier University Student Union (WLUSU) and by the Graduate Student Association (GSA).

WLUSU and the GSA have been engaged in the IPRM process and were invited to send representatives to the training workshops. The President, VP Academic and VP Finance & Administration have extended an offer to speak with all interested groups, which is open to students as well.

 
When will the PTF commence its work?

The PTF began its training and initial meeting in early 2013. 

 
Will new program development be put on hold during IPRM?

No. Nothing will be put on hold while the IPRM process is going ahead.

 
Who ran the IPRM elections?

The University Secretariat ran the elections process. For further details about the elections process, please click here

 
Why weren't all university employees eligible to vote?

Voter eligibility was determined based on the nature and scope of the IPRM initiative. Because IPRM is a strategic planning exercise with long-term implications for the university, it was decided that those eligible to vote should have some history with the institution.

Therefore, to be eligible to vote, CAS members required seniority status in at least one course (and have an appointment in the Fall term 2012) and non-faculty employees must have been employed with the university for more than 90 days, regardless of non-faculty employee group. For further details about voter eligibility, please click here

 
Why do CAS members need a Fall '12 appointment to vote?

Why do CAS members need to have an appointment in Fall term 2012 to be eligible to vote?
To be eligible to vote, an individual must have be employed by the university during the voting period. Therefore, CAS eligibility depends on an appointment during Fall term 2012 (as well as seniority status in at least one course). For further information about voter eligibility, please click here

 
Why weren’t the election process details announced sooner?

A number of days were required to finalize the details of the elections process after the decisions taken at the November 2012 Senate meeting.

 
Do people know who was elected and who was appointed?

Was it be made public which members of the IPRM working groups were elected and which were appointed?
No, to protect the integrity of the committees, this information was not made public; even the members of the groups themselves do not know if they were elected or appointed.

 
Why did the working groups have interim co-chairs?

It is important that the IPRM working groups have strong leadership and operate as a cohesive team. The interim co-chairs for each group provided leadership during the initial one-to-two meetings as members gained a sense of how they would work together to accomplish their goals. The role of the interim co-chairs was to call the first meeting(s), set agenda(s) and prioritize finding the long-term co-chairs. After the first one-to-two meetings, group members were in a better position to select permanent co-chairs. The interim co-chairs were identified by the vice-president: academic and vice-president: finance and administration as part of the appointment process for each working group. The permanent co-chairs for each working group were selected by the members of each team from among existing team members.

 
Is Laurier approaching its process like other schools?

Is Laurier approaching its process in the same way as other schools?

While there are some similarities to the processes at other universities, Laurier’s IPRM process was designed to suit the Laurier culture. For example, faculty, staff and students involved in the prioritization process at Guelph and the University of Saskatchewan numbered around 20; eleven faculty and staff were appointed to the process at Brock.  Laurier’s process involves more than 90 people; 47 of these are faculty and librarians, who were either elected or appointed from a pool of people nominated by their peers.

 
Are academic programs evaluated against admin programs?

Are academic programs and administrative programs evaluated against each other?

Each program is evaluated individually on its own merits. The administrative priorities team evaluates administrative programs and places them in categories and the academic priorities team evaluates academic programs and places them in categories. Programs are not evaluated directly against each other.

 
Is Laurier following the Dickeson model?

Laurier does not follow the Dickeson process “in lockstep”; we have customized the approach in an effort to ensure that the process is bottom up, collaborative and transparent, as well as to avoid a pre-defined outcome. We have also customized the templates and the criteria used for program prioritization to better suit Laurier’s culture and mission: to ensure a balance between teaching and research and to recognize service teaching, for example.

 
How will academic programs access data necessary for templates?

How will academic programs access the data necessary to complete their templates?

AcPT members worked with Laurier’s Institutional Research staff to define the data needed to evaluate programs. This data set is provided to academic program leaders; the same data are provided for all academic programs.  A data dictionary provides transparency as to how data are derived.

 
Are there quotas for the evaluation categories?

The Laurier IPRM process does not force programs into quintiles.  There is no expectation that an equal number of programs will fall into each of the five categories.  There is a reasonable expectation that recommendations for enhanced resources will be balanced with recommendations for the same or fewer resources, and ranges have been provided to the committees to assist with this.

 
Are programs put into categories based on their template scores?

While numerical scores will inform the evaluation process, programs will not be assigned to categories based solely on numerical scores.  Categorization will be based on open discussion, quorum and decision rules (75%, with a fallback of 70% consensus on program categorization).

 
How can you ensure evaluators don’t make subjective decisions?

Those who are evaluating the programs have gone through detailed training. They are using the same software program that is used for proposal evaluations by Laurier’s procurement office. Evaluators are using a method designed to avoid errors and subjective judgments and they have clearly defined decision protocols in place. All programs are evaluated against the same criteria within their group, i.e., all academic programs are evaluated against the same criteria; and all administrative programs are evaluated against the same criteria. Programs are evaluated based on the information provided.

 
How can evaluators rank programs they may know nothing about?

The templates are very detailed in order to give the evaluators the information they need to make informed evaluations. If necessary, evaluators can ask programs for clarification.

 
How much of this initiative is tied to the government’s SMAs?

The government deadline for finalizing the Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) was before the completion of IPRM. The SMAs paint the broad objectives of the university, while the IPRM process will identify specific priorities. The IPRM prioritization teams are not bound a priori to the program strengths defined in Laurier’s SMA.

 
Isn't completing the templates an excessive amount of work?

Filling out the templates will take time; however, we have tried to minimize the work by limiting the template requirements and making changes in response to feedback received during the pilot test. 

 
How does the 2% budget cut for 2014/15 affect IPRM process?

How does the January 2014 announcement about a recommended two per cent budget cut for 2014/15 affect the IPRM process?
The mandate of the IPRM process remains unchanged. Any recommendations of the IPRM process that are implemented will ensure that future resource allocation can be managed according to the results of the process.