by Laurie Zack
The planning process began in 1995 just after the government made cutbacks
that saw the university lose over 25 per cent of its funding between 1994
and 1999. Lightstone explained that two models for planning were tried
at other universities across North America.
Bottom-up planning looked good on paper, but serious restructuring
could not be undertaken with so many vested interests at stake. Top-down
plans proved too general, and any real academic restructuring, unless
restricted to generalities, ended up stymied by protests.
The model finally adopted was that SCAPP, a university-wide planning
body of senate, would fix the general objectives and the faculties would
develop and implement the concrete measures knowing that if they
didnt do it, SCAPP would.
The latest round began in the fall of 2001. Four main themes were identified:
renewal, rebuilding and retaining faculty ranks, developing our research
capacity, adapting to the impact and developing new information technology
in our pedagogy and maintaining accessibility while increasing student
Concordias balanced budget allowed new provincial funds to be put
to hiring instead of trying to bring our annual operating budget to a
balanced situation. Finally, while other Quebec universities shrank, continued
enrolment increases added revenue to reinforce hiring.
The impact of faculty renewal was also felt on the research side. Young,
dynamic faculty were well placed to take advantage of a federal commitment
of $5 billion to be spent over five to 10 years in programs like the Canada
Research Chairs, CFI and opportunities created by boosted funding to the
granting agencies CIHR (medical), NSERC (science and engineering) and,
to a lesser extent, SSHRC (social sciences and humanities).
Finally, accessibility and student retention, cornerstones of Concordias
identity, remain a constant challenge, but also an enriching experience.
Seventy per cent of our students work and 45 per cent are part-time
students, Lightstone said. This is very different from the
usual 20- or 21-year-old full-time student profile. Factor into this our
large representation of students from the cultural communities and many
recent arrivals and you have a rich and diverse population, with many
Where do we go from here? Lightstone is rolling up his sleeves.
SCAPP is discussing several adjustments in this cycle, including the mix of undergrad to graduate students. Were at 14 per cent grad students; wed like to be 20 per cent as soon as possible.