As of Fall 2023, the Strategy for Excellence, Equity, and Enrichment in Service (SEEES project) has evolved into operationalizing three key projects focused on staff support and community building in alignment with the FAS Strategic Plan: Refining Processes, Communities of Practice (COP), and FAS-wide Community Building. See “Continuing Projects” for more detail on these ongoing projects, and “SEEES Project History” for background and key outcomes of the SEEES Project.
Beginning in November, an audit team from the University Ombudsman’s Office will work collaboratively with staff to review and map key processes, identify gaps/areas for improvement, and provide standardized templates/recommendations to be adapted to individual department needs. Priorities based on staff feedback:
- Standardized hiring/onboarding checklists/guidelines for different types of staff/faculty positions
- Standardized provisioning checklists/guidelines for different types of staff roles
- Streamlined processes around Academic Change Forms and Grade Change Forms
Communities of Practice (COP)
Communities of Practice (helping staff in similar roles to network, share ideas, resources, and expertise) will continue to be a priority, with a focus on strengthening existing COPs, exploring opportunities for new ones, and possibilities for cross-unit mentoring/onboarding support. The Research Admin Community and FAS Communicators COP will also be surveyed this fall to provide feedback on what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement within their respective COPs.
FAS-wide Community Building
Based on recent staff recommendations around the need for faculty-wide community building (including between academic units and the Faculty Office), FAS will be exploring opportunities to:
- Strengthen relationships and increase mutual accountability between Faculty Office units and academic departments (eg: similar to the existing FAS Finance support model).
- Encourage cross-unit connections and information sharing, beginning with opportunities for department staff and Faculty Office staff to learn about each other’s work.
- Refine the format of FAS Admin meetings to be more collaborative and interactive with intentional opportunities for community building and participant input.
SEEES Project History
Nov 2020 – Feb 2021: DEFINE
In light of fast-growing and diversifying demands on staff, the Faculty of Arts and Science began work on the SEEES Project with a view to creating a more equitable and consistent approach to service and support across FAS.
Through preliminary consultation with Dept. Heads and Mangers/Administrators, we defined some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing our faculty.
The following functions were identified as having the greatest potential to alleviate strain, increase staff/faculty support, and enrich the student experience if resourced appropriately:
- Student Accommodations
- Academic Integrity
- Remote & Online Learning Support
- Experiential Learning Support
- Marketing & communications (including website design, and Social Media)
- Human Resources
- IT Services
- Facilities Management
- Research Support
March – June 2021: DISCOVER
This phase of the project was all about discovering and learning more about the experiences, perspectives and needs of current staff, faculty, and students. Information collected via surveys, small group discussions, and strategic data analysis was used to expand our shared understanding of emerging challenges and opportunities.
At the same time, we uncovered best-practices at comparator higher-education institutions through benchmarking research.
July - Dec 2021: DEEPER DISCOVERY & PRELIMINARY DESIGN
Using the information and insights collected in the discovery phase, we collaborated with partner groups (via multiple workshops, focus groups, Thought Exchange etc.) to explore challenges and opportunities in more depth and began to imagine possible solutions.
Additional, role-specific focus groups with Undergraduate & Graduate Assistants/Administrators and Research Support Professionals shed further light on emerging challenges and opportunities and helped to kick-start communities of practice.
A SEEES Advisory Group (composed of Department Heads and Managers/Administrators from a diverse cross-section of FAS disciplines and department sizes) was also convened to provide departmental insight and advice on key elements of project strategy and solutions design. This group continued to meet for approximately 18 months.
Jan 2022 - Aug 2023: DESIGN & DO!
Faculty Office Recommendations
As part of a phased approach to solutions design and implementation, Faculty Office units began introducing recommendations related to their core functions in January 2022, including a Joint Training Series in response to staff desire for enhanced - and more consistent - training, education and resources related to Faculty Office functions.
Kick-Starting Communities of Practice
Communities of Practice (COP) were created for key staff roles related to SEEES priority areas (eg: MarCom, Research Admin Support, Student Support), allowing members to network, share ideas, tools, resources, and expertise.
During this period, the SEEES Project Team also met with individual Department Managers/Administrators and Heads to better understand department needs, resource capacity, and staff responsibilities related to emerging challenges and opportunities.
SEEES Advisory Group meetings continued until July 2023, with additional manager-to-manager and head-to-head consultation re: emerging challenges and opportunities.
Recommendations for FAS Budget Advisory Group
In August 2023, the SEEES Team presented the FAS Budget Advisory Group with recommendations re: staffing challenges, staff training and community building based on input from the SEEES Advisory Group and the extensive consultation with staff, managers and department heads over a 2.5-year period.