On December 18th, USPC submitted to the French National Research Agency a new initiative of excellence project, named “Université Paris 2019”, which provides for the creation of a target university born from the IPGP, Paris Descartes and Paris Diderot. The spearhead of this new establishment, Marc Chaussidon, Frédéric Dardel and Christine Clerici present us, with three voices, the transformation plan.
Now that the IdEx file has been submitted to the ANR, how do you begin the transformation process?
For us, the transformation process is a long-term deployment that will be carried out over several years, with milestones and progressive development to achieve optimal performance over the next five-year period (2019-2023). The new university will be created on 1st January 2019, a first step as a political and legal act. In the meantime, we are starting to roll out our project and are launching numerous construction projects in 2018. All of them are not intended to be finalised as of 1st January 2019, but will need to be continued over the following months and years.
Our objective for the next few weeks is to identify a path that specifies the various steps to be taken during 2018 to ensure the creation of the new establishment on January 2019. The payroll of staff at the end of January 2019 is a concrete example.
To design this transformation process, we have created a steering committee composed of the two university presidents, the IPGP director, the general directors of services, the directors and chiefs of staff and the project team leader. We meet every Tuesday to work on the methodology to be implemented. At the same time, a project team is being set up at the IPGP to begin implementing this methodology.
In parallel, working groups will be launched at the end of February to work on key issues such as the drafting of statutes or human resources monitoring.
All of you are at the head of an establishment involved in the UP19 project. What is your position ?
Paris Descartes and Paris Diderot are two universities that historically have strong links and a common culture, particularly in the health sector. Similarly, Paris Diderot and IPGP have strong research and training interactions. The convergence of our three establishments is a reality. We share a common vision of the future and thisfacilitates the co-creation. There is an honest shared ambition for this university, even if the IPGP retains its legal personality, which is necessary for the execution of its national missions.
The three of us see each other almost daily and we form a functioning troika. We will meet with the communities together and participate in extended workshops with our management teams. We are totally involved and in solidarity because we are convinced of the importance, the stakes and the ambition of this project. This co-creation works is essential.
We are often asked direct or indirect questions about the positioning of each of us and the functioning of our troika. Our collegial functioning is a strength, linked to the history of our establishments. This collective investment in this project will be continued in the new university. We reflect on this together with a view to ensuring the stability of the project in its implementation phase.
From now on, how will you transform your establishments? What are the next major steps of the project?
The two teams, the steering committee and the project team, play an essential role in defining the transformation plan and implementation. We have a great deal of work to do concerning final the statutes because it is an experimental establishment outside normal rules for which we must specify many aspects. To this end, we are accompanied by a member of the Conseil d’Etat who specialises in higher education and research.
Second, we need to work on the definition, role and transfer of powers at the faculty level. We must define a general framework for the governance of these Faculty groupings, while maintaining a degree of freedom for disciplinary specificities to be expressed in Faculty councils. Faculty and inter-Faculty seminars will be organized to promote co-construction.
How do you prepare community involvement in the creation of the new university ?
At the beginning of the year, we worked closely with management teams to define a methodology, steps and timetable. Now we will engage the communities. We owe it to them to communicate about the progress of our first works and the direction in which we wish to evolve.
In addition, we will invite the communities to work together again. We will systematize inter-institutional work on key issues. These are specifically the problems that we have to solve before the 1st of january 2019 and before september 2019. To achieve this, we will mix teams with joint management committees and ensure that the administrative services meet and work together.
Together with Frédéric and Marc, we lead information sessions for the communities, we travel to each institution to present the project and the methodology. The universiteparis2019.fr website is a point of contact for communities to inform and question us. On the other hand, this year will be strewn with important steps that will lead us to establish regular contact with staff and students.
In a context of renewal of the Higher Education and Research landscape in Ile-de-France and at thenational and international scale, what will be the specificity of the University of Paris?
Our specificity? A multidisciplinary university, which unites the entire spectrum of training and research from the exact sciences to the humanities and social sciences, with a unique health sciences center in France and Europe and a reference institute in earth and planetary sciences. And all this is very visible nationally and internationally. Once created, it is a university that, due to its multidisciplinary nature and the quality of the laboratories that will constitute it, will have an important weight and a leverage effect on the future.
How do you respond to people who tell you that it is impossible to create a new establishment on 1st january of 2019?
Marc Chaussidon, Frédéric Dardel and Christine Clerici
First of all, we believe in it and we are putting everything in place to make it work. And we are not alone, since many players are now being solicited, supporting us and striving to make this new establishment flourish. In view of the evolution of national and international HER landscapes, we are convinced that this is an essential strategic choice.
How do you intend to support the staff in this transformation?
When we approved the first project in January 2017, we made two commitments: to conduct a social dialogue with employees and to set up an HR monitoring committee that will accompany the changes that strongly involve staff. The role of this committee is to identify the difficulties or concerns encountered along the path of transformation by administrative, teaching or research staff and to accompany them throughout the process. This monitoring committee will be set up very quickly and one of the first working groups will be set up.
It is essential to be able to anticipate the preoccupations of employees staff, particularly in terms of working conditions and jobs. We are very aware of this and we want to prevent psychosocial risks as much as possible.
Change can be scary, that’s natural, but the creation of this university will also offer great opportunities for career development, training in new professions or internal mobility. It is a wealth that is offered and there will be no mobility imposed on staff. At the level of business lines, strategic and coordination functions will be created; some may seize these opportunities to evolve.