Pierre Shakes It Up

Posted by: | May 2, 2009 | 2 Comments

Pierre Ouillet, UBC’s recently hired VP Finance, Resources, Operations is getting down to business. In a memo dated April 2, significant changes to the structure of many units in his portfolio were outlined. At first, it may seem strange that one of the stated aims was “an imperative to streamline and simplify our organizational structure to improve impact and efficiency” when in fact it could be argued that even more layers of bureaucracy were added. Nevertheless, let’s press on and find out more about these changes.

There used to be a log-linear graph in the Physics department of the number of Presidents, VPs, AVPs, students and faculty over time, extrapolated to the point where there’d be more AVPs than students. Adding more admin positions? Is it Thursday already?
– Darren Peets

The revised organizational chart can be found here. Although there are a number of blank spaces on the chart, no positions are actually vacant. Other than, that, it’s a pretty standard, boring org. chart.

Wait a minute… Al, is that you? Al Poettcker?! OH MY GOODNESS, what are you doing there? UBC will be going to court to claim that your organization is not under their control. But somebody snuck you and Philip Falls onto that org. chart anyways, perched right beside Pierre in the top middle. This must be some sort of conspiracy.

The Bare Necessities: Food and Housing

The merger between Food and Housing is already running full speed ahead with Andrew Parr, formerly Director of UBC Food Services, on top of the combined unit. UBC Food is now moved into the VP Students portfolio and the UBC-O food and housing units are also included. This merger coincides with the departure of Fred Fotis, former director of UBC Housing, for greener pastures. Most student politicians I have talked to were not fans of Mr. Fotis and Andrew Parr will bring a more student-focused approach with him.

The merger makes sense in that there is obviously a lot of interplay between the departments already. Cafeterias in residence are already integrated, while conferences and catering certainly do plenty of business together as well. However, Andrew Parr has no experience dealing with housing and childcare issues. While he considers housing a functioning department already (meaning that there is no need for any major overhaul; just continued management), long-standing challenges remain. The childcare situation is still at the top of many people’s minds, while the length of the waiting list for residence still poses problems.

Two different strategic planning processes are now underway: one for childcare and one for housing. We’ll see how much of a priority the AMS and GSS truly put on these issues, since there is a much bigger opportunity to drive change at this point in the process rather than simply bitching about the results later. The strategic planning will also be influenced by the results of the ongoing campus plan process. As we all saw during the last round of consultations, C&CP was hedging their bets on being able to use the “future housing reserves” (aka the UBC Farm) in every one of their plans. Now that that appears not to be an option, don’t hold your breath waiting for C&CP to come up with some wonderful plan for all this stuff. I’m going to tentatively say that Andrew Parr’s lack of experience in housing and childcare issues may actually be a good thing if he’s able to cut through the bullshit and end up with a plan that could actually work.

Pierre puts UBC on a diet: Let’s lose those LBS!

Some ancillaries have operated in an environment where funding had to come from charging services to other units. While it sounded like a good idea at the time, it had [created] some adverse behaviors – overcharging for services, creating internal bureaucracy.
-Pierre Ouillet

The Land and Building Services portfolio, which was responsible for infrastructure at UBC, has been dispersed among a few portfolios. UBC Trek and the Sustainability Office now find themselves under Campus and Community Planning. Building Operations takes over Plant Ops and Utilities. Infrastructure Development comes into its own with former Plant Ops head John Metras on top. I’ll let Alex explain this one:

Putting the former director of Plant Ops responsible for liaising with Properties will hopefully fix one of the problems with Properties: they don’t give a shit about life cycle–just capital costs.
-Alex Lougheed

Not only does this help advance UBC’s sustainability ethos, it just seems like common sense at this point. One of the themes of this shakeup is having UBC’s departments working together as a team towards a common goal. The point that Properties Trust needs to adjust their way of thinking about how they do business has been brought up before. This appears to be the follow through. I again feel compelled to point out the complete lack of control UBC has over Properties.

I guess any reform of Plant Ops at this point is a lost cause. They get shuffled, but with no real changes.

Despite the disappearance of Land and Building Services, the former AVP in charge isn’t leaving, he’s leading. Geoff Atkins is now UBC’s “Leader of University Sustainability”. I hope to expand on Geoff and his new role in a future post, but in short: Geoff is free to use UBC as his playground to test and implement new ideas about sustainability. What strikes me most about Geoff is that he takes problems and thinks about them completely differently that most people would. This is an amazing quality and makes him seem well-suited to a blue sky position like this; it also leads to his ideas sounding alternately brilliant and crazy (and sometimes both). He is truly passionate about sustainability issues which makes me hope he will be able to make the most of this opportunity.

HR moved under Toope

The VP Ops/Fin portfolio lost some more weight by having HR now report to President Toope. I honestly haven’t a clue why this change was made. Pierre Ouillet’s charming assertion that it “reflects the importance we are putting on our people,” definitely does not fly with me. This is where you are supposed to help me out in the comments section.

There were other changes as well; this post touched on the ones I found most interesting. The original memo is linked at the top, so read it for the full list.


2 Comments so far

  1. canuckmania on May 3, 2009 8:12 am

    If you don’t think Fred Fotis had a student centered approach to University Administration, you really need to get out of the UBC bubble and/or actually talk to the man.

    Or just ask someone who was around before Mr. Fotis came along.

  2. canuckmania on May 3, 2009 8:12 am

    If you don’t think Fred Fotis had a student centered approach to University Administration, you really need to get out of the UBC bubble and/or actually talk to the man.

    Or just ask someone who was around before Mr. Fotis came along.

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