The Provost and Vice-Rector, Research, has initiated a broad-based
consultation based upon the following document. Faculty Councils, Senate
and its principal committees and the Council of the School of Graduate
Studies have been asked for their views. Others may write to the Provost
and Vice-Rector, Research, by March 31, 2002.
Proposal to Establish a Chief-Research-Officer
Consultation of Senate and the Academic Governing Councils
In the process of preparing for and conducting a search for a Dean of
the Graduate School, there has been much informal discussion about the
evolution of the position. The discussion has been informed by the emerging
provincial and national contexts and the current academic planning mandate
established by SCAPP under the aegis of Senate.
The emerging context in which Concordia must succeed, and for which we
are planning, requires greater attention to, and coordination of, the
various complex elements that comprise the research portfolio at the University-wide
level. Concordia cannot continue to be served well by the elements of
this portfolio being attended to in part by the Provost and Vice-Rector,
Research and in part by the Dean of Graduate Studies together with their
other respective duties. It is within this context that it is recommended
that serious consideration be given to establishing a position whereby
the University-wide research portfolio be the sole fulltime responsibility
of a specific University academic officer.
Between the mid-80s and the mid-90s the Vice-Rector, Academic was supported
by an Associate Vice-Rector, Curriculum and an Associate Vice-Rector,
Research. Supporting and coordinating those research-related matters which
required attention at the University-wide level was the fulltime duty
of the latter, who worked under the authority and supervision of the Vice-Rector,
Academic. When in the mid-90s the University dealt with the enormous budget
cuts imposed by the government on all Quebec universities, the Vice-Rector,
Academic decided to eliminate both Associate-Vice-Rector positions. The
Vice-Rector, Academic (re-titled Provost and Vice-Rector, Research) assumed
some of the day-to-day duties of both of the Associates portfolios),
and other day-to-day duties once carried out by the Associates were devolved
elsewhere. Many of the duties once assumed by the Associate Vice-Rector,
Research were at the time devolved to the Dean of Graduate Studies (re-titled
the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research).
What has changed such as to recommend the (re)establishment of a chief-research-officer
position, whose fulltime responsibilities would lie with the duties of
the research portfolio proper to the University-wide level?
1) The block federal grants to provinces to support universities
operating budgets have in effect been replaced by truly massive and ever
increasing federal funds to support research. The former funds were distributed
by formula; the latter funds are directly or indirectly available on a
competitive basis. Moreover, this massive federal investment in research
has been effected not so much via the augmentation of the budgets of the
established federal granting agencies and their traditional
grants programmes, but via the establishment of new programmes. There
has been a plethora of new opportunities and proliferation of programmes.
As a result, university research officers and university researchers are
increasingly more hard-pressed to keep up with these opportunities. To
do so requires advance information gathering, lobbying, the formation
of alliances and partnerships, intense follow-up and debriefing, the coordination
of major interdisciplinary and inter-institutional proposals, and a times
the engagement of professional consultants to put major proposals
2) Quebecs support for research has also evolved significantly,
sometimes in response to, sometimes in anticipation of the federal initiatives.
Therefore the Quebec scene is fast becoming as complex and diverse as
the federal one as regards support for university-based research.
3) The above coincides with a renewal of the Universitys fulltime
faculty ranks which is unprecedented in its scope and unparalleled in
its long term impact upon the University. By about 2005 or 2006 nearly
50% of our full time faculty will have been hired since 1997. Because
of demographics, Concordia will not get another opportunity so rapidly
to evolve the research strength of its faculty for another 25 to 35 years
by making so many new hires of junior faculty. However, to seize this
opportunity and ensure that the research careers of so many newly hired
faculty are well started in a very competitive environment, both for research
funding and faculty hiring, is an immense challenge and will require a
great deal of hard work and effort on the institutions part.
4) The above also coincides with an explosion of demands by federal and
provincial agencies for the development or rewriting of institutional
policies regarding research. The increased burden this has and will continue
to place on university-research administration is considerable.
To maximize our potential and opportunity within the aforementioned context
will require much more in the way of support, services and proactive leadership
and activity at the Faculty levelcloser to the content
level as it werethan most other Canadian universities have instituted
to date. However, it will certainly require a great deal more action and
activity proper to the University-wide level than we have had. Hence the
proposal to (re)create a position at the University-wide level to deal
with the latter on a fulltime basis.
This document has throughout used the term chief research officer (without
capital letters) to refer to this proposed position. It does so in order
not to prejudice either the nomenclature for the position or to predetermine
where such a research officer should fit within the structure of the universitys
academic administration. Both the title and officers place within our
academic administrative structure must be appropriate for Concordias
internal organization and our own quite distinctive mode of academic planning.
It must also accord with the level of responsibility and accountability
which we have given the Faculties and with the particular role the University
has given the Office of the Provost for the leadership and coordination
of academic planning and related budgeting mechanisms.
At the same time, the title of this officer and his or her position within
the Universitys administration must be appropriate coin to those
outside the University, at other universities, in the offices of the federal
and provincial governments, those of the granting agencies, and at both
national and quebec associations (like CREPUQs comite de recherche)
of research officers.
A number of questions, which follow, are, then, the precise object of
this consultation. Note that these questions go beyond the hypothesis
that the Provost reestablish the position of Associate Vice-Rector, Research.
That, the Provost and Vice-Rector can do as an administrative staff appointment
within his office as the minimalist or default solution. With the default
position in mind, this consultation seeks input on the following questions:
1) What should the title of such a chief research officer be, given Concordias
internal structure and the needs for appropriate representation externally?
(Possiblities are: Associate-Vice-Rector, Research; Vice-Rector, Research;
Chief Research Officer; or some other title. The title of the Provost
and Vice-Rector, Research would require revision under certain circumstances.)
2) To whom should the chief research officer report administratively,
to the Provost, or to the Rector? (An Associate-Rector, Research would
presumably report to the Provost. However, a Vice-Rector, Research or
a Chief Research Officer could report either to the Rector or via the
Provost, depending upon how one envisages maintaining coherence and integration
across all aspects of the Universities academic mission.)
3) Should the chief research officer be a member of Senate, as he or she
will almost certainly chair the Senate Research Committee and probably
should be a member of SCAPP? (Currently the Chief Financial Officer is
a non-voting member of Senate, as was the Associate Vice-Rector, Research
when the latter position existed. Would this level of participation in
Senate be appropriate for a Chief Research Officer or Vice-Rector Research,
or would the fact that the research mandate is core to the Universitys
academic mission, with respect to which Senate is the highest legislative
authority, suggest that he or she should be a voting member of Senate?)
It is apparent that the timeframe for making such an appointment and the
mode of identifying an appropriate incumbent will be a function of the
answers to these questions. However, the more expeditiously we can proceed
to establish a chief research officer position, the better off we shall
Jack N. Lightstone
Provost and Vice-Rector, Research
March 12, 2002