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Subcommittee on Planning and Priorities (SPP)

The following recommendation for the retirement of the Subcommittee on Planning and Priorities of APPC was approved on September 1, 2005, by APPC.

Historical background

On May 13, 1981 Senate approved a recommendation submitted jointly by the Academic Policy Committee (APC) of Senate and the Planning Commission (set up in 1970, and established as a standing committee of Senate and the Board of Governors in 1972), that a Senate Standing Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (APPC) should be established to replace APC and the Planning Commission. Concurrently, a Subcommittee on Planning and Priorities was established, whose role was to focus on the planning responsibilities of APPC and which reported to Senate through APPC.

This reorganization was the result of a recommendation by the Planning and Review Committee (P&R), a joint subcommittee which met regularly to coordinate the work of the APC and Planning Commission. P&R was concerned about overlapping areas of responsibilities and interests between the two committees. The Planning Commission had identified a growing need for setting academic priorities taking account of the quality of existing programs, and it had recommended that certain reviews including program reviews/evaluations should be undertaken. Instead of having one committee trying to determine academic priorities without being in regular month-to-month contact with the changes in courses and programs in the faculties, while another (APC) was supposed to review budgetary implications of academic program proposals without having distribution of resources as one of its primary concerns, P&R saw advantages to combining all of these functions in one committee.

Like the University Planning Commission before it, the APPC Subcommittee on Planning and Priorities, was chaired by the Vice-Principal (Planning), later Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources). It was a large and active committee which every year produced a University Planning Report, recommendations, position papers, and policies for submission to Senate through APPC. In addition to P&P’s regular responsibilities with respect to the University’s planning process, specific tasks and dossiers were referred to it by the Principal: the selection of Faculty and University priority projects for two major University fund-raising campaigns, a review of the role and budgetary situation of McGill ancillary units, the resolution of the case for closing the Faculty of Dentistry, to name but a few major items of business.

Following the departure of Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources) François Tavenas for the post of Recteur at Université Laval in May 1997, his position was abolished and his responsibilities were re-assigned. Vice-Principals (Academic) T.-H. (Bill) Chan and Luc Vinet successively assumed the Chair of the APPC Subcommittee on Planning and Priorities. P&P last met on May 23, 2000. No meeting has since been convened. The planning process at McGill has undergone radical change. The planning function formerly assumed by P&P under the leadership of a Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources) is now carried out under a different structure, making P&P redundant.

Recommendation to APPC

Be it resolved that the Subcommittee on Planning and Priorities of the Academic Policy and Planning Committee be retired.

Terms of reference

The Planning and Priorities committee (P&P) and its parent committee, the Academic Policy and Planning Committee of Senate (APPC), came into being in 1981 when they replaced two parallel committees, the University Planning Commission (which reported directly to both the University Board of Governors and Senate) and the Academic Policy Committee (APC, which reported to Senate). The new reporting structure and the broadening of APC's mandate were intended to ensure that planning issues were taken into consideration when academic questions are discussed.

The Planning and Priorities Sub-committee has retained some of its former autonomy in that on several occasions particular issues have been referred to it directly by the Principal, with a request for review and advice. P&P functions in a three-level mode: a) preparing and submitting reports for APPC's consideration and further submission to Senate, b) advising the Principal, and c) proposing appropriate courses of action to its chair. P&P reports to Senate through APPC unless specifically requested to do otherwise.

The committee's primary responsibility is to propose appropriate planning channels and procedures, policies, and guidelines for the development of academic programs and allocation of resources, so that these may reflect the University's vision, directions, and priorities, and may allow optimal use of available resources. P&P is called upon to carry out reviews of specific and broad University dossiers. It also has the mandate to initiate its own studies.


Planning process

1. to develop the overall planning process of the University and recommend adjustments whenever necessary;

2. to develop and review broad directions for the University in light of the overall mission of the University, available resources, and perceived needs;

3. to ensure the coordination of planning within the University by the assessment of the relative priority which should be given to various needs or new developments within faculties in light of the University's broader goals, priorities, and resources; more particularly, attention should be focussed on what constitutes a priority for the University;

4. to initiate and conduct studies into matters which impact on planning at the University; to keep abreast of developments in the field of higher education including government proposals, and to keep informed of social and political issues which might have relevance for the planning of the University;

5. to review periodically the implementation of recommendations arising from reviews of the planning process or formulated in previous P&P reports to Senate (for example, cyclical review recommendations, planning for capital budgets, discretionary allocations, self-funded program financing), and to report as necessary.

Resource allocation procedures and priorities

6. when requested, to review and make recommendations relating to resource distribution within the University; to review and make recommendations on administrative processes and related resource requirements; to initiate such action, and to respond to initiatives directed to it for review by the Principal;

7. to assess and approve the priorities for fund raising that have been identified by faculties and other sources and provide academic justification for the financial needs stated.

New and existing programs

8. to formulate financial guidelines and policies for new and revised programs, and request and review reports on the implementation of those guidelines;

9. to receive from the APPC Sub-committee responsible for the review of cyclical reviews and evaluation of programs regular reports on issues and trends identified in that Sub-committee's consideration of cyclical reviews and of proposals for new and revised courses and programs, so that P&P might take them into consideration when drafting policies and making recommendations.