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October 24, 2002 Senate Notes



A regular meeting of University Senate, held March 14, 2003

Studies unit: Dean of Engineering and Computer Science Nabil Esmail introduced a motion to recommend to the board the establishment of the General Engineering and Computer Science Studies Unit. He explained that about one-third of the courses required for engineering and computer science programs are now administered by the dean’s office, which creates confusion.

The GENCS unit would give these programs an academic home. The resolution was passed unanimously without discussion.

Tribunal hearings: Two lawyers were proposed as additions to the tribunal hearing pool, which is made up of volunteers who are qualified to chair all first-level an appeal hearings under the code of rights and responsibilities, code of conduct (academic) and academic re-evaluation procedures.
Several student senators said that students should have an opportunity to examine the candidates.

Rector Frederick Lowy replied that it is difficult enough to find qualified volunteers for this task, and he would not like to see them subjected to public quizzing, but it may be possible to set up a committee for this purpose. The recommendations of Kurt A. Johnson and Georgia Pagidas were accepted.

CSU elections: Graduate student senator Rocci Luppicini proposed a motion that senate recommend that the provost “strongly encourage faculty to allow, insofar as they deem it possible, students to leave class 15 minutes early on March 25, 26 and 27” to vote in the CSU election, and that senate “mandate the provost to write to the faculty informing them of senate’s resolution.”

Luppicini asked for the framer of the motion, Tyler Woodsworth, to have speaking privileges. CSU senator Adam Slater objected on the grounds that Woodsworth himself is a candidate in the election, and asked if he had had contact with the administration.

Woodsworth said he had not, that he had found the senate steering committee through the University Secretariat Web site, and that the experience of presenting his motion to the committee had inspired him to present himself as a candidate. He said that the policy of letting students out of class early provided both a reminder of the election and an opportunity to vote.

Several faculty members remarked that this motion had been brought to senate every year, and was invariably supported. Sabine Friesinger, CSU president, also supported the motion.

However, Slater read from several documents to support his view that senate was meddling in the affairs of the CSU. Youri Cormier (CSU) proposed an amendment that would have required the provost to consult with the CSU’s chief electoral officer before informing faculty; Dr. Lowy said he could not accept it, as senate is paramount in academic matters such as this. The amendment was defeated. Slater proposed another amendment that would have removed the phrase “insofar as they deem it possible” from the motion.

CSU electoral officer Stephan Herman arrived and was given speaking privileges. He said that the deans had always been co-operative, even proactive, in giving students an opportunity to vote, and he didn’t feel this motion was necessary. Slater tried to have the motion tabled, but this was defeated. Ted Stathopoulos (ENCS) said it was the “insofar” clause that made the motion possible; the provost said that early release from class remains the professor’s decision; Dr. Lowy said that the amendment was contrary to common sense and good academic practice. Slater withdrew the amendment. The question was called on the main motion, and it was carried. This discussion lasted over an hour.

Budgets: Chief financial officer Larry English presented the final results of the operating budget 2001-02 and a preliminary operating budget for 2002-03. The results for 2001-02 show a surplus of $1,846,000 and an accumulated surplus of $25, 003,799. However, ultimately, there will be an accumulated deficit of $11,164,058. This is due to expenditures that are committed but do not yet appear in the financial statements as expenditures.

He showed graphs to illustrate Concordia’s success in greatly reducing a $36-million accumulated deficit during the lean years of the mid-1990s, and contrasted it with some other Quebec universities. As a result, when the government provided deficit relief on a pro rata basis, this became a windfall for Concordia.

Dr. Lowy added that virtually eliminating the deficit would not have been possible without the co-operation of the faculty and staff unions and associations, which made large numbers of early retirements possible. It was also achieved through careful academic planning.

Regarding the budget outlook for 2002-03, English said that changes in ministry of education are slowing the emergence of a clear picture.

He explained that the government’s money for higher education is a fixed sum that must be divided among the universities and colleges; as a result, allocations are relative.

The latest funding formula is based on relative costs of academic programs, and is likely to be to Concordia’s disadvantage. The programs that are attracting the largest increases in en-roment, such as computer science, will show the lowest cost, and therefore, according to the funding formula, will receive the lowest weighting.

English welcomed requests for his full budget package, which can be obtained electronically at larrye@alcor.concordia.ca.

Inquiry into racism: Frie-singer said that at a CSU general assembly on March 5, members voted in favour of holding an inquiry into racism.

Advocacy files: Lightstone said that measures are being taken to respond to CSU requests to provide more information to students whose cases have been denied.

Lawsuit against CSU
: The civil suit by Hillel against the CSU is moving through the court system.

Next meeting: April 4.