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January 24, 2002 Senate Notes



A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held on January 18, 2002

Rector’s remarks:
Dr. Lowy told Senate that he is planning to make a three-stage presentation to the Board of Governors at successive Board meetings Jan. 23, Feb. 13 and March 20 about the need to start constructing the new buildings on the downtown campus as soon as possible. The science complex under construction at Loyola is on time and on budget ($85 million).

The downtown buildings are targeted at $300 million, of which it is expected that one-third will come from donations and one-third from government. Although it will be a challenge, Dr. Lowy said, he hopes that the Board will support a loan of $100 million so that ground can be broken as soon as permission is granted.

Graduate Studies and Research: Dean Claude Bédard announced that the Office of Research Services has a new director, Benoit Morin (See CTR, Jan. 10, page 4). The frais indirects (from research grants, to cover overhead costs incurred by the university) are being distributed. A Concordia researcher, Marie-France Wagner (Etudes françaises) has been awarded a major SSHRC grant for her project, Le spectacle du pouvoir: les entrées solonnelles des rois dans les villes françaises au XVIième siecle.

Co-op Institute: Provost Jack Lightstone announced that the Institute for Co-operative Education has a new director, Christine Webb, who directed co-operative education at Memorial University of Newfoundland for 10 years. Welcome to Concordia, Christine.

Textbooks: Patrice Blais (Concordia Student Union) remarked that according to a letter to The Concordian, a textbook that costs $98.95 at the Concordia Bookstore can be bought from chapters.com for only $80. Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa replied that Manager Lina Lipscombe has assured him that Concordia’s bookstores charge the lowest profit margin of any university bookstore in Canada. The price differential has to do with economies of scale.

Graduate students on Senate: A motion was introduced by Rocci Luppicini, president of the Graduate Students Association, that would increase graduate students’ representation on Senate from two seats to three. He explained that currently, the two are from one Faculty, leaving other three Faculties unrepresented. The graduate students in business and engineering do not pay fees to the GSA, and having three seats instead of two might encourage them to participate.

Lightstone said that this was putting the cart before the horse, and suggested that the GSA get its house in order. Robert Oppenheimer (Centre for Mature Students) and Cristelle Basmaji (CASA, business students) suggested that the motion be amended to ensure maximum representation across Faculties. Dean Jerry Tomberlin said that it has been difficult to persuade graduate students to fill available seats on JMSB Faculty Council. Dean of Students Donald Boisvert said that whether all graduate students pay fees to the GSA or not, the university recognizes the GSA as speaking for them.

Students senators argued for more student representation on Senate as a matter of principle. (Senate has 37 voting members, of whom 10 are undergraduates and two graduate students. The rest are faculty or administrators.)

Benoit Desgreniers (CSU) argued for more rights for independent students (who take three or fewer courses and are not in a program) and students like himself who can’t always pay their fees on time. The motion was narrowly defeated, nine for and 10 against.

Special Graduation Awards: Changes, mainly of a housekeeping nature, were proposed to this group of “community” awards, so called because they take into account non-academic achievements. The substantive changes included setting an expected minimum grade-point average of 3.0 for graduating candidates. Sami Nazzal (CSU) suggested that this might put engineering students at a disadvantage since they tend to have lower GPAs because their courses are “harder.”

Other student senators argued that the GPA criterion puts deserving students with lower marks at a disadvantage.

Lightstone said that since they are presented at spring convocation, an academic event, they should meet academic standards. Boisvert added that extra-curricular and academic achievement often go hand-in-hand. Bédard pointed out that in the case of the Stanley G. French Award, given to graduate students, a criterion of 3.0 is irrelevant because graduate students have to maintain a 3.0 GPA in any case, and another criterion, that 60 credits must be from Concordia, is also inapplicable to graduate students.

The motion was amended to read that a 3.0 GPA is “usually” expected in candidates, and it was understood that the French Award has its own criteria. Carried, though not unanimously.

The meeting scheduled for February 1 has been cancelled.