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June 7, 2001 Senate Notes





A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held May 25, 2001

Budget, 2000-01: During question period, Harvey Shulman (Arts and Science) asked whether it had been wise for the senior administration to balance Concordia’s budget, since other Quebec universities seem to have increased their deficits without penalty.

Rector Frederick Lowy said that it was the right decision, both in principle and in practical terms. It enhanced Concordia’s reputation for efficiency, fulfilled our contract with the government, and saved large sums in debt charges. Running a deficit would not have attracted more government money, and would probably have discouraged some of the large grants and private donations that have been received.

Chief Financial Officer Larry English substantiated this argument when he presented a financial statement for the academic year now ending. The university’s long-term debt has been whittled down from $36M in the early 1990s to $8M, saving millions of dollars in interest payments.
He talked about the apparent arbitrariness of Quebec government funding, not only the difficulty of achieving a final accounting of operating funds even after the year in question is over, but in the allocation of monies as a result of performance contracts signed this year with the Ministry of Education.

Of this $95M, Concordia received only $1.5M. English produced some research into the money received by other universities through their performance contracts, and the somewhat obscure titles given to these allocations, which appear to bear no relation to each university’s debt, or, indeed, to any formula. “There is no rational, discernible basis for these sums,” he said.

Regarding long-term debt, English said, the universities vary widely in their approach. HEC’s debt is almost negligible; Bishop’s was nearly $1M but has been reduced by two-thirds in the past year. Université Laval’s debt has increased from $81M to $89M, and the debt of the Université du Québec network has doubled in a single year to more than $72M. McGill’s debt has increased somewhat, from $16.5M to $19.5M, and the Université de Montréal’s has decreased from $56M to $45M.

While bemused by the government’s approach and disappointed by the amount of money that Concordia received, English said that an increase in rental revenues will virtually wipe out the anticipated deficit for 2000-01 of $1.1M. “We’re in fine financial shape,” he concluded.

Malcolm Coker, of the Graduate Students Association, said that in a referendum, graduate students overwhelmingly approved an increase in their student fees. Dean Martin Singer (Arts and Science) said that since the Faculty’s privatized fees for international students are tied to government funding, these are likely to rise. Elizabeth Saccá (Graduate Studies) said that this spring’s convocation includes four of the special individualized program students from South Africa; more are expected to graduate next year. Patrice Blais (CSU) suggested a debate in future on the role of the School of Graduate Studies, in the light of the search for dean now going on.

Academic policies: University Counsel Bram Freedman presented revisions to the code of Conduct (Academic), revisions to the Academic Re-Evaluation Procedures, a policy on the establishment of tribunal hearing pools, and (for information only, as it is under the Board’s jurisdiction) revisions to the Code of Rights and Responsibilities. These procedural changes were developed over the past year by a task force to make the policies clearer and more effective, and were recommended to Senate by the Academic Programs Committee (APC).

The senators representing the Concordia Students Union succeeded in having the make-up of the tribunal hearing pools discussed first, and proposed a series of amendments, one of which would eliminate the task force’s restriction on eligibility to students in good academic standing.

At this point, citing the lateness of the hour, the absence of the Provost, and lack of clarity behind the intent of the amendments, Dean Singer proposed that the matter be sent back to the APC, and this was approved, on the understanding that the APC would consider it in time for it to be proposed at the first Senate meeting in September.

Post-doctoral fellows: A policy proposed by Elizabeth Saccá (Graduate Studies) was approved without discussion.

This was the last Senate meeting of the academic year.