Academic plan falls short

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By Ian Vandaelle
Biz & Tech Editor

Three years into provost and vice-president academic Alan Shepard’s five-year Shaping Our Future plan; Ryerson is still lagging behind many of the outlined goals.

The plan consiting of 25 suggestions and five priorities for the university’s future has largely gone unfulfilled since it was published in 2008.

The strategies are scheduled to be implemented by 2013 in a bid to improve Ryerson’s academics, athletics and reputation. Many of these strategies have gone unfulfilled, and others may go beyond their allotted time frames.

A main focus in the plan is to expand and improve the infrastructure of the university, with specific plans being the rapid completion of the Student Learning Centre, updated athletic facilities and the Gould Street photo gallery, to be located in the

new Image Arts building.

The Image Arts building’s opening was delayed for one year, as it is slated to open this September, instead of opening at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year as planned.

Maple Leaf Gardens has met similar delays, with the planned completion of the facility pushed back from its original March 2011 opening to November.

Ryerson is slated to break ground on the Student Learning Centre sometime this year and hope to complete construction in 2013, just in time to meet the five-year goal Shepard set out.

Other goals have met somwhat disappointing results.

Shepard’s plan outlined an increase in course accessibility and more choices in course options. However, in November the university proposed a three per cent budget cut which would further force Ryerson to cut down on the number of courses offered each semester.

The plan did however result in three more doctorate programs for the university in computer science, molecular science, and physics.

Despite the issues with the Shaping Our Future plan, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said Shepard has been doing a good job.

“I think [Shepard] has done an excellent job. I think he has moved the university forward in many academic ways,” Levy said.

“He’s a great colleague, he’s the university’s budget officer and does an excellent job, so I have nothing but praise for how well he’s performed.”

However, Shepard may not be employed at Ryerson by the end of his plan. Shepard’s current contract with the university ends next June, though Levy expects Shepard will return for a second term.

“I’m absolutely certain, and I hope it does happen, that Alan will be a candidate for that process,” said Levy.

But Shepard is not guaranteed to retain his post. Ryerson policy dictates that a selection committee must be convened before they name a provost for the next term.

“I’ll be clear. Alan’s first term is over, he wants to stay a second term. But our policies require that there is a search process, even when someone wants to continue,” said Levy.

Shepard has been mum on the subject thus far, saying that it’s “too soon to tell” what his plans for the future are.

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