Increase in RDC deans stirs concern

A change in the administrative structure at Red Deer College has faculty concerned about the cost.

A change in the administrative structure at Red Deer College has faculty concerned about the cost.

The college is expanding from four deans to seven, adding seven associate deans and one academic vice-president.

Brad Donaldson, RDC VP academic, called it a realigning of responsibilities, likening it to putting a super-charger on a car to make it perform better.

“We’re taking administrative responsibilities and putting them into positions that are best suited to perform them,” said Donaldson. “We need to have a stronger engine driving new programs or redeveloped programs and we want to put a much stronger emphasis on having a learner-focused delivery and assessment method and the curriculum to support that.”

But the Faculty Association of Red Deer College has concerns, saying the college’s administration is adding new positions in a time of funding uncertainty.

“The big issue is when they brought this out they said it was going to be a cost-neutral change by eliminating the chair positions,” said Ken Heather, faculty association president. “But they’ve gone away from that completely.

“I asked in a recent meeting what the real cost would be and was told it’s going to have to come out of operations. As soon as you do that, it will end up affecting the classroom and teaching and learning because if we’re not getting new money, it’s the same amount of money just being divided up more.”

As a result of the 2013 provincial budget, more than 30 positions were cut at the college and some programs were eliminated.

The 7.2 per cent reduction in an operating grant meant the college was short $6 million.

As well, two certificate programs were suspended for the 2013-14 academic year and a diploma program was suspended starting this year.

In November, $1.152 million was returned to RDC by the provincial government.

“They have all the right to restructure their organization, but at what cost to the students in the end?” said Heather.

He said the chair position that is being replaced by the deans and association deans were the go-between from departments and administration.

Donaldson said it will end up taking some of the responsibilities of the chairs, which were positions faculty used to have, and put them into administrative positions — because they were in fact doing administrative work — and allowing faculty to spend more time in the classroom.

The recruitment process has started for the positions and the hope is to have them filled by the end of June, getting ready for the next academic year.

“Change is always difficult and we’re making a substantial change,” said Donaldson. “I suspect there is an element of concern about what our world is going to look like, are we in fact going to be making ourselves more effective?

“The roles and the responsibilities are changing. We believe the moves are for the benefit of our students, that’s why we’re doing it.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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