We have taken as a basic principle that Councillors want two-way communication. You want to know what we are doing and planning to do, but you also want to make suggestions, ask questions and discuss ideas and proposals in detail. This has traditionally been very difficult to do in a single day.
To deal with that, we have made several changes.
First, the Principal’s State of the University address will be made before the April Senate meeting. The video and text will be placed on the web, following the model of his reports to the community of September and February. Councillors are strongly encouraged to consult this text. It will form the basis for a Question-and-Answer session at the beginning of the Council meeting in which participants are encouraged to ask questions on any topic. The Principal and Vice-Principals will all be available to answer these.
Second, we have condensed the Business meeting. Materials for information will be posted on the web before Council. Only essential items of business will be discussed.
Third, we have collected a set of background readings which Councillors are encouraged to read and consider before the meeting. A Panel session at the end of the morning will use these as a basis to focus the day’s discussions.
Fourth, recognizing that Council is also a social event, we have allotted an hour and a half for lunch, to allow for freer interchange. However, the tradeoff is that in the afternoon sessions, there will be no coffee break. Food and beverages will be available outside the meeting rooms to be taken as individual Councillors see fit.
Finally, the afternoon session has been structured to provide an opportunity for detailed discussion of specific issues in smaller groups. As part of their registration form, Councillors have been asked to rank their preference for each of three sub-themes.
We have attempted to optimize the match between Councillors and their preferred themes.
Each theme is coordinated by a Vice-Principal or senior university administrator. They have divided their subtheme into smaller groups focussing on a single question for which background material will be provided. Each of these smaller groups will have a facilitator and a scribe. Over the course of the afternoon, each of these groups will be expected to grapple with their issue and bring its conclusions back to the theme group. At the end of the day, the core findings will be presented briefly in a plenary session and an electronic copy of discussions and recommendations will be circulated to all participants in the day.