Rector Frederick Lowy set the tone for the year at yesterdays first
Board of Governors meeting, with a frank overview of both the positive
developments that have strengthened the university, and recent negative
publicity that threatens to damage the institutions reputation.
On the positive side, he pointed to a continued increase in our student
population and improved retention rates, closer to the goals set by the
performance contract with the Ministry of Education. Sixty-five new professors
have been hired since Jan. 1, 2001, and in the next two years, another
65 to 70 will be hired each year.
Over 90 per cent of our professors now hold PhDs. There are now 44 classrooms
that are Internet-ready; there will be 94 by next January. The accumulated
debt of $38 million in 1995 has been eliminated, and we continue to work
with a balanced budget.
Our research profile and success with granting agencies have improved,
and the internationalization of our student body and international agreements
with other institutions are expanding.
Speaking of ongoing tensions on campus linked to the Middle East situation,
the rector announced a proposal for a Concordia dialogue committee,
an initiative to be led by Provost Jack Lightstone and Dean of Engineering
and Computer Science Nabil Esmail.
The rector then spoke frankly about disruptive events that have resulted
in many calls to his office from concerned parents and university supporters
in the community. He read several excerpts for the CSU agenda, Uprising
2001-2002, including attacks on the Office of Rights and Responsibilities,
accusations that the university supports genocide and the encouragement
of illegal activities such as stealing and non-payment of rent. He also
read excerpts from The Unabridged, a CSU publication, that have
led some companies to pull out of student job fairs.
A long discussion of recent CSU activities followed, culminating in a
motion of strong support for the actions and leadership of the rector.
Several board members added details about an ongoing petition in Engineering
and Computer Science, informal and formal gatherings of business and graduate
students, and a CUFA council meeting where recent events were discussed
and the negative impact of recent CSU actions were denounced.
These actions included accusations against the rector in the exclusion
of two CSU representatives and a set of CSU proposals advocating the repeal
of the student capital campaign contribution and the banning from campus
of several companies.
Lightstone said that the executive group at the CSU had a defined ideological
position that neither reflected the broad mass of Concordia students nor
lent itself to open, critical debate of valid issues. He accused the CSU
of lending its political and financial support to the forwarding of a
sole point of view, and misrepresenting and smearing the valuable work
being done at the university.
Mirroring these comments, William Byers questioned whether the CSU actions
constitute a direct threat to the openness and academic freedom that the
Community-at-large representative Alex Potter insisted that the CSU must
be held responsible for its publications and declarations that damage
Student representative Patrice Blais, who voted against the motion supporting
the rector, appealed for the opportunity to tell his version of the events
that he witnessed which led to the exclusion of the two CSU individuals,
and pointed to certain provisions of the Universitys fact-finder
proposal that he found unacceptable.
Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa concluded by asking for a clarification
about a statement made to him by a CSU executive that he interpreted as
a veiled threat to either himself or the university. CSU president Sabrina
Stea was asked to look into the matter.
Pointing to the small number of votes cast in the last student election
(1,855 out of 21,000 eligible voters) and the fact that only 853 voted
for the current CSU slate, community representative Jonathan Wener expressed
the hope that more students would now get involved in their student government.