Not retreating

Last week we held our first Office of the Deputy Provost all day retreat. My office contains the Office of the Registrar, Learner Support Services, and the Centre for Learning Accreditation (at the moment, it will expand, more on that another time). We had games, we celebrated our achievements over the last year, we talked about some of the big change initiatives that are happening, and we worked together to think about how we might develop some KPIs to better evidence what we do today and quantify the improvements we want to make for tomorrow.

We also took some important time out to rest and relax with a wonderful guided mindfulness session led by Dr Melissa Jay.

Taking the time to celebrate our achievements is important because on a daily basis it often feels like we aren’t making progress. Only when we step back for a moment can we really see all that we’ve achieved.

Last year, when we were in the thick of the first wave of the pandemic we achieved incredible amounts in a very short space of time. This year, when we look back, although our patterns have changed, and maybe settled a bit, we’ve continue to achieve and make headway.

We’ve changed the way we work

  • Combined Exam Units into one team in the Office of the Registrar
  • Partnered with Information Centre for first line triage of emails
  • (Re)launch of Telax phone service supporting a remote, distributed phone model
  • Launch of MS Bookings for student appointments
  • Increased use of SRM to improve case handling and passing
  • Launch of Teams video for student sessions
  • Regular review prioritisation of work with IT
  • Working with University Relations on COVID comms to learners
  • Improved knowledge of PLAR within AU learner support teams

We’ve improved the learner experience

  • Alternate accessible invigilation option via Office365
  • Mobius and Lyryx for exams via ProctorU
  • Digitised more exams!
  • Extensions available to end-date (with extras available)
  • Supported virtual Convocation
  • Fully digital PLAR workflows (portfolio and assessment)
  • Communications review with University Relations to improve the tone and style of our letters
  • Launched monthly Student Financial Aid newsletters
  • Supported English and a Second Language policy implementation
  • Updated PLAR website (brand and accessibility)

We’ve enhanced our learner supports

  • Rename/relaunch of Accessibility Services
  • Launch of Students in Distress Protocol (formerly Suicide Intervention Protocol)
  • Mental Health Strategy for 2021-2023 – approved and released
    • Student of Concern Protocol soft launch
  • Launch of Mental Health and Wellness website
    • Launch of staff training and crisis management modules
  • $1.5M in bursaries and awards (44% increase)
    • $444,000 disbursed in Emergency Bursaries

We’ve enhanced our systems

  • Digitized the majority of our course maintenance workflows
  • Upgraded Catch My Data to improve financial aid processes
  • Moved a number of institutional policies into our Calendar
  • Moved of websites and Calendar to Cascade
  • Helped develop AU’s Business Continuity plan
  • Stage 1,2,4 letters sent via email
  • Positioning ourselves for MyCreds

We’ve (barely) coped with growth

  • Increase of 35% in Student Financial Aid funded students
  • 97% increase in award applications from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021
  • 67% increase in course reviews completed in Q1 2021
  • 28% increase in evaluations completed in Q1 2021
  • Lost and then gained a portfolio mentor in CLA
  • 1540 students have complete their program with AU 20/21 convocation year

We’ve shared what we do

  • CBC interview on accessibility accommodations and impact of COVID
  • CTV interview – International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • CTV interview – Stress and Time Management
  • Presentation on Learning Plan Creation Services to Network of Ontario Assistive Technologists (NOAT)
  • Presentation – Mid-life Career Transitions – U of C conference
  • Live webinar – Mid-life Career Transitions – Graduate Student Professional Development Network – AU and Memorial University
  • Welcome webinar – collaboration with SFA, IC, and Advising
  • Guest blog in the Hub – Eight considerations for your career
  • Advised Dalhousie and Capilano on PLAR processes

We’ve been recognised

  • Accessibility Services won the 2021 Alberta Student Services Conference Team Award
  • Secured $25,000 kick-off grant from Bell Canada for implementation of the Canadian Post-Secondary Mental Health Standard
  • Secured $645,000 as our Provincial Post-Secondary Mental Health Grant over the next three years (2021-2024)

2 thoughts on “Not retreating

  1. Egads, I am more than humbled at all you and your team do and have done. Astounding achievements, A-M, if I had a badge worthy of any weight, it would be already bestowed.

    Cheers from 2 provinces away.

  2. Thanks Alan. There’s a reason we’re so tired…
    And there is more to say about some of the big change initiatives. Trying to find my way back into blogging and sharing. Did I mention I was so tired?

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