Dean of Faculty of Extension reappointed

Katy Campbell set to lead next five years of bringing UAlberta to the community.


(Edmonton) The University of Alberta Board of Governors has reappointed Katy Campbell as dean of the Faculty of Extension. Her second five-year term is to begin July 1, 2015, following an earned administrative leave.

“I grew up in Edmonton and I’m an alum, and come from a few generations of alumni—it has always been an aspirational place to be in Alberta,” said Campbell. “I never would have thought I would end up as a dean at the U of A, in a faculty where social action and social justice really underlines the decisions that we make and what we decide to work with.

“It’s kind of a faculty of my soul.”

In making the announcement, Carl Amrhein, university provost and vice-president (academic), said Campbell has done a tremendous job of building the identity of the Faculty of Extension over the last five years.

“Her passion for the goals of engagement scholarship and engaging with communities is fundamental in order to advance the model of engagement within education,” said Amrhein. “Dr. Campbell demonstrates a high level of integrity and commitment to the university and its values and inspires a shared vision of the faculty.”

A professor in the Faculty of Extension’s Master of Arts in Communications and Technology program, Campbell made her first foray into administration in 2001 when she was named associate dean of extension, a role she held until 2007, when she was suddenly called to fill in as interim dean.

Rather than being installed just to keep the status quo while the university went in search of a new dean, Campbell was asked to preside over the faculty’s move from the Terrace building next to the north campus to the university’s first downtown presence, Enterprise Square.

“As you can imagine, staff were resistant and morale was low,” remembers Campbell. “My first priority was to get us get downtown, get settled and working productively and collaboratively together and in the community, working productively and collaboratively as representatives of the U of A in a new part of the city.”

She says that today, people who would have been the most resistant to leaving the north campus can hardly remember what their issues were. “We’re quite happy downtown. It allowed us to open a portal for the university to work with a community that we haven’t worked with before.”

Campbell’s leadership during the move won her accolades among her faculty and her peers across campus, and in 2009 she successfully competed for the position of dean of the faculty.

Her next priority was to fill the gaps left behind by the move downtown.

“We’ve managed to recruit the most amazing internationally recognized and valued scholars, “ she said. “One of the things I’m most proud of is how we’ve done an excellent job in recruiting and retaining staff who are creative and passionate about community engagement.”

With a full staff and a new home, Campbell set about to develop an academic plan that answers the question, “What makes us a faculty?”

“Our founder, Henry Marshall Tory, was passionate about social justice and access. His original order was basically to take the university out to the people, keeping in mind that knowledge is not only created in labs and hallways of the university, it is created in communities,” she said. “Engagement scholarship acknowledges that reciprocity of that co-creation of knowledge.”

Besides formulating an academic plan, extension is doing its part to define its area of expertise with the creation of a master of arts program in community engagement, which is coming soon.

“Step by step by step, we are solidifying the discipline as a legitimate discipline.”

With six faculty partners, Campbell has also helped shepherd in extension’s Enhanced Bridging Program, which was developed to improve students’ English language competency. The program has grown about 20 per cent in each of the three years it has been underway.

Besides continuing to be a leader in providing all manner of programming for more than 10,000 students annually at all levels of the educational spectrum, Campbell says the Faculty of Extension continues to a incubator for new ideas and new models.

Extension adopted the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth and Family, or CUP, which brought together a steering committee of community agencies, learning providers and university members to develop impactful approaches to community-based research and evaluation.

Researchers with the faculty are also working closer with Aboriginal communities and special interest groups to develop curriculum and learning pathways that the communities themselves are in charge of.

In recent years, the faculty has worked with the Ismaili community in Edmonton to develop a credential in entrepreneurship, and to find mentors and placements for the learners—the majority of whom were all business owners in their former countries.

“These are people who would not have had the opportunity to go to university at all. It is a life-changing experience for them and it’s amazing to be part of the process that supports that.”

There is still much work to be done. Campbell wants to increase the international involvement to help international partners build capacity themselves, and to do more work on pathways across Campus Alberta to develop credentials that are quick and concise that will enhance knowledge to give people a niche in the marketplace.

“We know how to do these things; we’ve done them for 100 years,” said Campbell. “To be involved in that sort of legacy and to work with the kinds of people across the faculty is an honour.

“The U of A really grew up the right way. It is of the community and it still is.”

Bill Connor, vice-provost (academic programs and instruction), has agreed to serve as acting dean in the faculty for the year Campbell is on leave.