Academic leaders take on Maple League governance

Acadia University’s top academic leader, Dr. Dale Keefe, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, will join a new governance body within the Maple League of Universities, which comprises four primarily undergraduate schools – Acadia, Bishop’s, Mount Allison, and St. Francis Xavier.

The new governance model shifts responsibility from the university presidents to academic vice presidents and provosts to enhance quality, innovation, and sustainability at each Maple League campus.

“Acadia is pleased to be a member of the Maple League, which is unique in Canada because it fosters strategic collaboration amongst its members,” says Dr. Keefe. “Our faculty, staff, and students meet regularly with Maple League counterparts to enhance academic and experiential learning experiences. By working together, all students attending a Maple League university have opportunities beyond the walls of their campuses.”

High-quality undergraduate education

Inter-institutional collaboration is a strategic priority for each Maple League institution, including Acadia.

Due to rapid growth in multiple areas – sharing academic courses, supporting student leadership, leading a virtual teaching and learning centre, decolonizing education abroad, and attracting over $1 million of external funding – the Maple League is moving into a new phase of working together.

The new governance model, recommended by the presidents, is designed to enable the academic consortium to grow and become more deeply ingrained in the four institutions.

The new Governing Board will be chaired by Mount Allison University’s Provost and Vice-President Academic, Dr. Jeff Hennessy. Each university has renewed funding for the Maple League from 2023 to 2028 at current levels to operationalize inter-institutional collaboration through the intentional design of systems and structures.

“The Maple League consortium stands out as innovative in the landscape of higher education in Canada,” Hennessy says. “At Mount Allison University and across the four universities, we value inclusive, accessible, and high-quality undergraduate education.

“As four primarily undergraduate universities with common values and vision for 21st-century liberal education, our institutions are committed to helping students lead while they learn,” Hennessy says. “The potential is simply extraordinary.”  

As the only academic consortium in Canada, the Maple League leads conversations on quality undergraduate education. Each institution is dedicated to graduating highly employable and deeply ethical individuals. The Maple League provides collaborative and innovative opportunities to students, faculty, and staff, which enhances resilience, engagement, and civic engagement.

Excellence is achieved through collaboration

Each Maple League university appeared in the top six spots in the primarily undergraduate Maclean’s 2023 University Rankings. Moreover, each Maple League university had a student named as a 3M National Student Fellow out of only ten spots awarded across Canada.

A project shared across the Maple League called the Online Teaching and Technology Consultants (OLTC) program won the D2L Award in June 2022, the highest recognition of innovation in higher education by a team.

A new chapter in Maple League leadership

On the heels of national and international achievements, Dr. Jessica Riddell finishes a stellar five-year term as executive director of the Maple League on June 30, 2023.

“Under her direction, our consortium grew from a beautiful idea to a thriving, collaborative community of scholars, students, and staff,” Hennessy says. “We would not be where we are today without Dr. Riddell’s leadership and vision...Her new book project, Hope University, will no doubt shape what excellence looks like in undergraduate education well into the future. We are so grateful to Dr. Riddell for her tremendous leadership as the executive director of the Maple League.”

Dr. Riddell says she benefitted from working with the four Maple League institutions by seeing inside their policy development and implementation, governance, funding structures, and strategic planning.

“The experience has offered me a nuts-and-bolts understanding of systems – and constraints – and a greater understanding of how universities strive to fulfill their mandate to contribute to the broader society,” she says. “I am excited to take this knowledge into new spheres and share these insights with the post-secondary sector.”

The Governing Board will initiate a search process for a new Executive Director in November 2022.

Learn more

Visit the Maple League of Universities website.

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