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June 6, 2002 Senate Notes



A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held on May 24, 2002

Opening remarks: Provost and Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone spoke on behalf of the Rector, who is travelling with Deans Singer and Esmail to Nanking, Hong Kong and London. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new downtown buildings was held May 13, and bulldozers will go into action as soon as final approval is received from city council.

Curriculum changes: Major undergraduate changes in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science were approved. These changes reflect requirements of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, including more engineering economics, and increased exposure to ethics, equity, public/worker health and safety considerations, and concepts of sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

CCSL: Professor Frances Shaver was re-appointed as one of the faculty representatives on the Concordia Council on Student Life.

Budgets and projections:
The capital budget was presented for information by the Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa. It shows an allocation of $6,004,000, $1.4 million more than expected; this will be rolled over for future use. Lightstone added that SCAPP is pleased to see that it takes academic priorities into account.

The estimated operating budget for 2001-02, as of April 2002, was presented by Chief Financial Officer Larry English. While the financial picture is healthy, he said, the most troubling development is that the government says it will disallow the privatizing of tuition of international students at Quebec universities unless it is extended to all students.

This would represent not only the closing off of a source of needed revenue and the waste of strong recruiting efforts, but the loss of some $2.5 million in revenue over the past two years in Arts and Science and the John Molson School of Business, since the government has indicated it will claw back this revenue retroactively.

The Rector and McGill principal Bernard Shapiro are meeting with government representatives to prevent at least the retroactive clawback. Lightstone added that the move is patently unfair, since the universities asked the government in writing before undertaking this privatization two years ago, and were given not only approval, but instructions on how to proceed.

Among other items noted by the CFO and senators were: relatively low contract research revenue; continuing high rate of bad debts (i.e. unpaid fees), i.e., $800,000, or 1.6% of all billing; and the anticipation of resumed payment of employee pension fund premiums by the university, based on changing market conditions.

The CFO said that the government indicates that it will adopt the changes to the funding formula put on hold over the past year; this would amount to a reduction in the grant of 4.7 to 4.8%. A sum of $10.8 million promised as a result of the performance contract has not arrived, and has had to be covered by borrowing; it is expected in August. Research overhead is now being covered by the federal government; in response, the Quebec government will not cover overhead incurred as the result of federal agency research grants.

The preliminary financial picture for 2002-03 includes a cost-of-living raise for employees, although the rate is slightly higher for teaching than for non-teaching staff (2.5% vs. 2.25%).

Mission statement: Comments on the university’s mission statement, adopted and unchanged since the late 1980s, had been solicited. Among the suggestions were the insertion of a clause on “wellness” by the former head of Recreation and Athletics, and accountability regarding the ideals of the statement from the CCSL. The University Ombudsperson and Advisor on Rights and Responsibilities submitted a plea for a revamped statement with less cumbersome wording, and indicated a number of elements that should be reflected in it.

During discussion, Céline Leduc (GSA) objected to the word “tolerance,” as being a rather tepid endorsement of diversity; others agreed. It was decided that Senate should set aside time to discuss the mission statement thoroughly, and this will be done in the fall. In the meantime, it was moved that a phrase be added, at the suggestion of a member of the Board of Governors, viz, “fostering an environment of academic and pedagogical freedom.” This was approved.

Senate: Outgoing CSU president Patrice Blais said that as the new student executive will take office June 1 and he expects to graduate, this would be his last Senate meeting. He said that of all the bodies on which he sits, it is the most dynamic, and the one he’ll miss the most.

Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Claude Bédard will leave his post shortly, and Dean Jerry Tomberlin moved a vote of thanks to him, not only for his participation in Senate, but for his intelligent and conscientious service to the university; it was unanimously carried, with applause. The Speaker of Senate, John O’Brien, was acclaimed in his post for next year, with a round of applause.

Next meeting: September 13