Academic Plan: The first five-year plan

The University of Calgary’s Academic Plan-like five-year plans from Soviet Russia, Communist China, the Liberal Red Book and almost every other university across Canada-presents itself as the guiding force uniting and strengthening the organization’s activities for the years 2002–2006. And like the other aforementioned plans, very few people outside the leadership circle understand the plan’s true meaning. Precious little is known about the inner workings of the regime in executing the plan, despite every outward appearance of consultation and responsive action. Carefully orchestrated presentations at U of C regime President Harvey Weingarten’s every public appearance attempt to reassure the people of the merits of the plan, and to lessen their surprise when the other sabot drops.


Like all other political platforms, the plan conservatively extrapolates into the obviously foreseeable future. Any successes achieved when the plan is coincidentally in effect are attributed to the plan, while failures come from non-conformity to the plan. The drafters admit: "A plan of this kind cannot be unduly prescriptive," leaving open to question their actual commitment to the goals spelled within. The plan is presented to the outside world as a great tool of advancement, but is seen by some victims as a convenient instrument to extract sacrifices for great infrastructure and other isolated projects for the benefit of all (researchers and graduate students).


To show the regime’s commitment to the plan, buildings are apparently being erected to achieve three of the four "strategic academic priorities." "Leading Innovation in Energy and the Environment" is a large part of the CCIT building in the northwest while "Creating Technologies and Managing Information for the Knowledge Society" is embodied in the ICT building in the north. The CCIT and ICT buildings are distinguished from the rest of campus as classic examples of the nouveau-functionalist-bolting-green-and-grey-things-onto-concrete school of architecture.


The other important strategic priority, "Advancing Health and Wellness," will be pursued in the distant O’Brien Centre and Children’s Hospital, while "Understanding Human Behavior, Institutions and Cultures" will get a new policy research centre in some non-descript part of campus.


To satiate the masses, the four areas are liberally interpreted to encompass everything that goes on at this university when necessary, but can be used to exclude certain activities from favor when convenient. To accomplish its goals, a number of "action items" have been put forth by the regime.


The top action item-increasing the population of graduate research students-does nothing for frosh, while the second seeks to "manage" undergraduate enrollment to favour elite research-oriented frosh, a necessity in population control. Fortunately, most undergraduates escape the attention of the regime under the other three action items: to retain and build its academic and non-academic staff, to "ensure that our core principles inform the future development and review of programs at the University of Calgary," and to enhance the U of C’s portfolio of non-degree offerings. For convenient reasons, the one aspect of the plan that focused on undergraduates, EULE, has now concluded, leaving many undergraduates questioning how they are better off now.


In 2003, students may finally see benefits from the academic plan started seven years ago, though ex-President Terry White’s vision may not be acknowledged.


To summarize, the academic plan as the end result of this glorified corporate visioning exercise is probably better than no plan at all. Some students privately hope the academic plan is not just the first of three phases of something ending in "profit" with an unknown middle step.

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