Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.13

April 8, 2004


Senate Notes

A regular meeting of Senate, held March 19, 2004.

Quebec legislators: Rector Frederick Lowy described Concordia’s presentation of a brief to the education committee of the Quebec National Assembly. Natalie Pomerleau and Tyler Wordsworth, of the Concordia Student Union, also made a brief presentation, urging the committee to keep the tuition freeze in place.

Lowy said he told the legislators that Concordia’s operating grant of $178 million would have to increase to $248 million to meet its needs. Moreover, there was unanimity among the university presenters that the post-secondary system is currently under-funded. However, the Liberals have pledged not to raise tuition in this mandate, and it is unlikely the government can afford more funding.

An alternative would be a federal transfer to the province such as those for health and social services. If this is not possible, other ways should be examined, including lifting the tuition freeze. “We don’t feel we can wait for the next mandate, but we would only raise tuition under certain conditions.”

He cited policies by the U.K. and Australia by which the students continue to pay low tuition, and the government pays what would have been a tuition increase to the university; the hidden tuition increase is considered a loan to the student, who repays it after graduation through the tax system.

Graduate scholarships: Dean Elizabeth Saccá reported the introduction of a $1-million initiative to recruit highly qualified students to Concordia research programs through scholarships. These will be allocated to Faculties on the basis of the number of graduates from PhD and master’s programs they produce. The awards are $15,000 a year, three years for a PhD and two years for master’s. As a result, Arts and Science will get 11 (for 446 graduates), JMSB three (for 100), ENCS seven (for 290) Fine Arts three (for 132) and the School of Graduate Studies one (39).

Two new courses will be offered for graduate students in September 2004, one in oral English, and another in written academic English.

She reported that the new proposed master’s in exercise science is at CREPUQ, and there will be a site visit in the spring or early summer.

A regular meeting of Senate, held April 2, 2004.

Change of name: A motion was approved that changes the Department of Computer Science to the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. As Professor V.S. Hoa explained, this not only reflects a change in curriculum, but it signifies the unusually close integration of hard and soft technology in the department. Provost Jack Lightstone added that Concordia has one of the few such departments in Canada.

Rector’s remarks: On behalf of Senate, Dr. Lowy congratulated Dean Martin Singer on his appointment as Provost, effective June 1. The Rector, Vice-Rector Marcel Danis and Dean Singer have just returned from South China, where they met with prospective students, and alumni who still show interest in the university.

Funding: Dr. Lowy expressed disappointment in the recent Quebec budget, which gave nothing new to universities. He reminded Senate that where education is concerned, the federal government has the money, but the provincial government has the constitutional responsibility, and is jealous of its jurisdiction. He has hope for a resumption of transfers to the provinces to make up the shortfall in educational funding. During question period, a student asked about Quebec’s having reduced the allocation for bursaries. The Rector agreed that this was discouraging, particularly after the message sent to the government through the standing committee on education last month. He could only hope the government was waiting for the committee’s report.

CEGEPs: Lightstone said that CREPUQ will likely issue a statement on the future of the CEGEP system. This would be in reaction to the announcement by the government of a public consultation and proposals from the CEGEPs themselves about an expanded role.

Membership of Senate: Lightstone said that steering committee sought feedback on two requests, one to increase representation by graduate students, and the other to increase representation by part-time faculty members. Senate currently has 38 voting members: 12 students (of whom two are graduate students), 18 faculty (of whom two are part-time), and eight senior administrators. He asked whether Senate should be larger, whether the current balance between faculty and students should be changed, and whether the proposals should be accepted. A number of members, both students and faculty, said that they felt Senate operated smoothly. Asked for some idea of how other universities operated, the Provost indicated that most have larger senates (some of well over 100), and are more heavily weighted towards faculty (e.g. 3/1 or 4/1). Dean Singer remembered the much larger Senate of some 25 years ago, whose meetings were long; however, Catherine MacKenzie disagreed, saying that those debates were exciting. Reeta Tremblay (Arts & Science) preferred a smaller Senate, but said there was nothing magic about the number 38. Maria Peluso, president of the part-time faculty union CUPFA, was given speaking privileges, and called for an increase in part-timers. David Vivian (Fine Arts) pointed out that as there were no part-time faculty on steering committee, it would be hard to make the case. When Lowy said there was nothing preventing a part-timer from being elected to steering committee, Peluso said that was like saying any woman can be prime minister of Canada. Rocci Lupiccini, president of the Graduate Students’ Association, said that he had introduced his motion last year not so much to have more graduate students on Senate, but to ensure representation of all Faculties.

Research results: Vo-Van presented results in the operating grant programs from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, i.e. Discovery Grants. He said that at 42 per cent, the success rate in the SSHRC Standard Research program would be the highest obtained so far at Concordia. The number of applications in this program was quite high (91). In the newly launched program of Research/Creation in Fine Arts, our success of 29.4 per cent is exceptionally high compared to the national rate of 17 per cent. However, it is hoped that SSHRC will look closely at this new program and reinforce it so that the success rate is improved to a more acceptable level. (For more on SSHRC)