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December 6, 2001 Senate Notes





A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held on November 30, 2001

CSU election: Dean Martin Singer wanted Senate to note that the claim by one of the slates running in the election that 190 programs were being closed in the Faculty of Arts and Science was completely false; in fact, that is roughly the number of programs in the Faculty. Dean Nabil Esmail said that a charge by some student politicians that he had interfered in Engineering and Computer Science student affairs was completely unfounded.

Vice-Rector Institutional Relations and Secretary-General Marcel Danis asked CSU president Patrice Blais for a progress report on the election. He replied that as far as he knew, the election would be extended to Dec. 4 to allow those students who voted the morning of Nov. 27 to re-cast their ballots. He said he was sure that even when the results were in, they would be contested.

Student senators asked Danis for transparency regarding the new distance-education company eConcordia. Danis said he would ask eConcordia’s board in January to make more information known.

Preliminary operating budget (2001-02):
Chief Financial Officer Larry English answered questions about last year’s budget, and then presented the preliminary budget for this year. The budget foresees a grant of $134,926,623, plus additional revenues that would bring the university’s total revenue to $223,398,916. As always, the university is expected to balance its budget.

Provost Jack Lightstone said that SCAPP (senate committee on academic planning and priorities) recommended that this budget be given to the Board of Governors for approval because it accounts for how every penny will be spent, and accords almost entirely with the budget principles adopted last year. He said that $9 million out of $11 million in additional funding will go toward the hiring of new faculty, and this hiring process will not be altered in any way for budget reasons. Approved.
Funding changes: English said that “the crystal ball is quite cloudy,” and the changes to weightings (relative financial values given by the government to various types and levels of students) are not in Concordia’s favour (see CTR November 8).

When pressed, he said that a worst-case scenario would be a loss of $4.5 million, but Lightstone said that he very much doubted it would come to that. Specific scenarios are being worked out for each course. Rector Frederick Lowy said that intense discussions with government representatives had gone on for a full week, and “we are not going to easily accept a large reduction.” The funding formula is contrived to distribute a finite amount of government money, he added. Sometimes we can deliver a program for less than the estimated amount, but sometimes it costs more.

Harvey Shulman (Arts/Science) said that this kind of funding exercise takes away our flexibility, and Lightstone agreed, saying that to some extent we are boxed in by our academic mandate [to be accessible and emphasize undergraduate education].

Dean of Fine Arts Chris Jackson said Lightstone should be congratulated for the vigour and effectiveness with which he defended Concordia’s interests in this matter, and there was applause. Arshad Ahmad (JMSB) commented that the professionalization of universities represents values that many of us do not share, and we should make our views known. Dr. Lowy agreed that it is a trend, “whether by design or by society’s pressures.”

Curriculum changes: A number of changes were approved in all four Faculties. There was discussion of the introduction of a certificate and a minor in Canadian Irish studies. Dean Singer explained that the bulk of the money to fund this program had come from fundraising in the Irish-Canadian community, and that the Faculty and the university retained full control over the content. Some senators from the School of Business questioned the fact that only students from Arts and Science were eligible to apply for the new Loyola International College, and as a result, Dean Singer amended it to include students in any undergraduate program. (More about the College in a future issue of CTR.)

Tribunal chair: A lawyer, Janet K. Oh, was approved as a chair of the tribunal hearing pools, the fourth to be so named.

Next meeting: January 18