As we look back on the 2021-22 academic year, one word in particular stands out that describes our sector’s efforts: balance.
In the face of ongoing uncertainty, and setbacks regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on society in general, Services and Sustainability came together to support a more pronounced return to campus by students, faculty and staff. We continued to support work in hybrid mode, as that term continued to evolve, and beyond that we forged ahead with a number of significant initiatives and projects.
Committed to supporting outstanding student experience and engagement, we delivered fully renovated, state-of-the-art classrooms as well as research and innovation spaces that prioritize and foster collaboration. We conducted much preventative and maintenance work to support a heightened use of our campuses, no small feat for an institution with approximately 80 buildings that each have their own unique profile and needs. We were certified LEED Gold for the Applied Science Hub, and some of our buildings have also been recognized for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As Concordia continues to grow, planning for the future is one of our priorities — and the comprehensive Campus Development Plan is one of the tools we are working on to develop our vision of space, in collaboration with the City of Montreal. We also take such an exercise as an opportunity to integrate components that support sustainability, resilience and biodiversity on our campuses.
Our Security team continued to be present and available to our community, welcoming them back on campus. Throughout the previous year and this one, the unit introduced new training sessions regarding de-escalation and implicit bias, among others, to ensure that we remain responsive and heighten our sensitivity, in alignment with the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism.
IITS’s contribution to the university’s success in implementing a hybrid workforce continued to be considerable, managing increasing cybersecurity threats and the implementation of mitigation measures; providing in-person and virtual help with an increasing level of demand from our community members; the development of new technologies to support new teaching and learning models; and the implementation of university-wide management solutions for cloud-based technologies like the new human resources and financial services information systems.
In November 2021, Human Resources replaced its decades-old payroll system and launched the new HR information system — never an easy task, given the scope and complexity of the system, but made exponentially more difficult during a pandemic. It features highly improved capabilities and greater capacity.
In the spring, HR launched three additional modules on UNITY: recruitment, onboarding and training. The recruitment module allows potential candidates to not only apply for jobs but to create a profile and set up an automatic feed and alerts that will simplify and expedite their job search. The final module is focused on learning management. It is a portal with access to all HR training courses as well as courses offered elsewhere within the university related to learning and professional development.
Environmental Health and Safety continued to navigate the difficult COVID-19 pandemic realities, staying abreast of the most current research and public health recommendations to keep the Concordia environment as safe as possible, as well as responded to faculty, staff and student questions to alleviate their concerns regarding the return to campus.
The team also launched its new workplace health and safety application, which will help EHS fulfill its role of ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all Concordians. We were proud to learn that the entire EHS team received the Outstanding Staff and Faculty Award at the 2022 Alumni Recognition Awards, in recognition of the team’s innovative approach to its work and for sharing its knowledge and contributing to the university community. Well done!
We also had the pleasure and privilege of welcoming Recreation and Athletics back to our sector a year ago. Being able to support student athletes and varsity teams in the achievement of their goals and dreams is certainly an exciting component of what our sector does. This year, the women’s hockey team won the Canadian national championship after the disappointment of the cancellation of the previous year. A huge congratulations to them — the players, coaches and support staff — for their relentless efforts and dedication.
Our commitment to sustainability is everywhere we look — it’s everywhere we work. From the way we plan and conduct our events to the funding of community-led initiatives that help propel all of us towards the achievement of our Sustainability Action Plan, our collective objective is to infuse all our activities with a sustainable, integrated approach, so that we provide ourselves the means to match our ambitions.
On a final note, it’s important for me to mention the limitations of this report. While it provides a bird’s-eye view of our most visible, or most palatable, achievements, it is by no means an exhaustive list of what our team accomplished. No report can do justice to just how much work our teams accomplish on a day-to-day basis. The work is largely behind the scenes, in the back end of things, and sometimes there is no visible result simply because all these processes enable something to simply “work.” When things work, they are often overlooked.
And so, I want to say thank you to each and every member of our sector for their work and dedication. Everyone has a role to play, without which the end result, the continuous and reliable support of the university’s academic and research mission, cannot be achieved. Your contribution is not unnoticed; we see it, and we continue to be grateful.
Michael Di Grappa
Vice-President, Services and Sustainability
© Concordia University