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October 25, 2001 Senate Notes



A regular meeting of the Senate, held on October 19, 2001.

Danielle Morin, an associate dean of the John Molson School of Business and co-chair of Concordia’s Centraide campaign, addressed Senate on the importance of donating to organizations that help the needy of the Montreal area. Mark Branch, Concordia alumnus and executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of LaSalle, spoke briefly about how Centraide supports its work.

Concordia Student Union senator Benoît Desgreniers asked if the Jewish organization B’nai Brith receives help from Centraide, and Morin gave him the booklet of members. [It doesn’t.] At another point in the Senate meeting, the same student asked why the Rector had not denounced B’nai Brith for linking the CSU with terrorism. The Rector replied that he had made several widely disseminated statements disassociating himself from such remarks.

Rector’s remarks: New statistics show that among Quebec universities, Concordia has the biggest increase in enrolment, 7.2 per cent in overall registration, and 10.8 per cent of new undergraduates this year. The construction of new campus buildings is on budget and on schedule. He expects the anticipated Quebec budget to honour the government’s commitment to increased funding; CREPUQ has been lobbying to ensure this.

The provinces have asked the Canadian government to contribute 40 per cent to the indirect, i.e., overhead, costs of university research, meeting the U.S. standard. (Currently, Quebec contributes 15 per cent; in some provinces, universities do not benefit at all.)

Student affairs: The CSU’s Patrice Blais announced that former vice-president Sheryll Navidad has been charged with fraud. He urged members of Senate to write to the authorities to urge that justice be done. Sabrina Stea read a letter of resignation as president of the CSU (See statement).

Blais said that members of CSU Council had had lawyer’s letters delivered to their addresses, and these addresses, which the CSU felt should be confidential, appeared to have come from university files. University Legal Counsel Bram Freedman said he had just heard about it, and would look into the matter.

Student André Munro also said that a Communication Studies professor has borrowed all copies of his own book from the Concordia library, apparently in an effort to force his students to buy it; Provost and Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone said he would look into it.

Academic planning: Lightstone said that SCAPP, the Senate committee on academic planning and priorities, will invite formal reports from the Faculties on their planning mandate, i.e. hiring and retention of faculty, increased research, information technology and the retention of students, and will discuss the university budgets for last year and this. He added that the university writing test must be re-evaluated, as large numbers of students are leaving this requirement for final graduation until the last moment, and some have to write it many times before passing. It is intended to be an aid to students, he said, but is proving otherwise. Access to information technology throughout the university has progressed (See story).

Lightstone announced that Professor Balbir Sahni has been re-appointed to a second five-year term as director of the Centre for International Academic Cooperation.

Senate procedure: Questions were asked about the presence of a student photographer, who said she was taking pictures for her own purposes. Several students said that the senators are public figures in the sense that they represent others at Senate. However, several faculty members objected to being photographed.

Curriculum: A student senator suspected that courses were being cut, narrowing choice for students; Lightstone explained that quantity was no substitute for quality in this matter, and that curriculum is constantly being enriched and overhauled. Student senator Patrice Blais objected at some length to what they felt was a lack of specific information about several changes in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. Dean Nabil Esmail, Lightstone and others said that engineering students had been involved at every stage in the development of these changes, many of which were of a minor nature, and as business dean Jerry Tomberlin said, they concerned that Faculty only. An effort by the students to delay passage of several of the changes failed, and all were passed. More discussion revolved around the criteria for academic awards. Once again, it was explained to the student senators that Faculty-specific and university-wide awards may have different criteria.

Writing at external sites: The university’s policy on this matter was expanded without discussion.

Next meeting: November 9