Internal Academic Review Committee

Report on the Review of the School of Urban and Regional Planning

The External Consultants and the University Review Team offered high praise for the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP). The Review Team report notes "its excellence is demonstrated by an efficiently run academic program, high quality faculty, vital research activities and innovative external initiatives". SURP enjoys the reputation of delivering one of Canada's premier academic and professional programs. Moreover, this commendable record has been achieved in a context of resource constraints.

The Internal Academic Review Committee (IARC) noted the extensive contributions of the unit to the goals and mission of the University particularly in the areas of promoting internationalism, nurturing the broader learning environment, encouraging interdisciplinarity and diversifying its resource base. The very dynamism of the unit highlights the need for strategic planning to refine priorities and focus energies. The IARC agrees that there is a pressing need for a new Strategic Plan and is pleased that the curriculum review, which will initiate the Strategic Plan process, is already underway.

The unit was commended by everyone involved in the review process for the attention that has been paid to curriculum development and delivery to achieve and maintain excellence in the academic endeavour. The result has generally been a strong and balanced program that produces well-educated and skilled professionals.

Faculty resources in this unit are under considerable pressure. This is noticeable at the level of both teaching and research activity. A retirement and a secondment have created specific pressure points, and have also resulted in a less diverse faculty complement. The IARC agrees that continued reliance on the commitment and goodwill of the existing faculty should not be embraced as a long-term solution.

The reviewers make reference to an apparent downward trend in the numbers of applications for admission. However, it is noted that enrolment levels have been maintained despite a decline in the number of applicants, and the IARC is pleased that the unit is undertaking a vigorous recruitment program.

It was noted that the unit is operating under space constraints, specifically in relation to the design studio and the GIS laboratory.

Overall, SURP is to be commended for its innovation and imagination, the extraordinary dedication and commitment of its faculty and staff, and the excellence of its program and its graduates.

Follow-up on these recommendations and issues will take place in the annual budget and staffing meetings between the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research and the Vice-Principal (Academic).