Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.16

May 20, 2004


Senate Notes

A regular meeting of University Senate, held May 7, 2004.

Capital budget, 2003-04: Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa said the government grant now covers repairs and alterations only, and not equipment, which is now in the operating budget, and the grant has been reduced. As a result, the capital budget shows a $445,000 deficit. The MEQ made a special allocation of $2.79 million to take Concordia’s recent growth into account. This has been used to restore the finances of the Faculties to previous levels of funding. Approved.

Operating budget, 2003-04: Chief Financial Officer Larry English said enrolment had grown by 25 per cent over five years, much faster than the other Quebec universities, but the rate for funding remained the same. While this growth in enrolment had generated more revenue and a cut of $5.8 million to Concordia’s grant had been rescinded, the budget would show a $6-million deficit.

English said this would be the first deficit budget since he had come to the university. He showed a graph comparing the accumulated debt of the Quebec universities. Concordia has the least, followed closely by McGill and U de Sherbrooke; Laval has the worst, $120 million, because it refused to cut back during the cuts of the 1990s.

Rector Frederick Lowy added that if Concordia hadn’t reduced costs by offering wholesale early retirements and thereby balancing its books, it would not have been able to finance its building program by issuing a $2-million bond.

The shortfall has been taken out of buildings and grounds rather than from the academic sector, because the senior administration had decided to maintain the push to renew faculty. English mentioned the added burden of maintaining the new science complex and the rise in the cost of heating oil, and Di Grappa added that Concordia is acknowledged to be the most energy-efficient university in Quebec.

Lightstone said that the financial constraints show that the government chronically under-funds fine arts and business, and while Concordia is relatively healthy, university financing is in deep trouble. Approved.

Code of Rights and Responsibilities: This policy had been reviewed by a committee chaired by Rita de Santis, and its recommendations were distributed to Senate. Lightstone said that definitions, such as what constitutes a student, were a welcome addition. The report emphasizes the need for training for students on the tribunals; there is also a new composition of the appeal panels. Dean Nabil Esmail said that research was not sufficiently protected by the code, and this was noted. However, it transpired that the student senators had a later version of the report with suggested changes that had not been considered by the committee, such as unauthorized use of the library, loitering on university premises, students having to identify themselves to security officers, etc. Student Adam Slater, given speaking privileges, raised concerns about civil liberties. Harvey Shulman (Arts & Science) was concerned about the blurring of free expression with action. These and other comments will be taken back to the committee.

Admissions process: Lightstone said that applications were down by eight per cent since last year, no doubt due to the passing of the Ontario double cohort, but acceptances are up by 16% (11 % of the from CEGEP, 22% from rest of Canada, 31% international). Pending files still in the system amount to only 577, compared to more than 4,000 at this time last year; this shows that the automated admissions system is working.

International fees, JMSB: In response to a question from a student, Dean Jerry Tomberlin said that fees were $8,500 for 30 credits, but as of Sept 2000, they were “privatized,” and raised to $14,000. In September 2002, because the MEQ had plugged the loophole that allowed universities to charge out-of-province students directly and circumvent the FTE-equivalent funding formula, the JMSB brought fees back to $8,500. Refunds were made halfway through the year. Then it was discovered that McGill had ignored the prohibition against privatizing fees and had not been sanctioned. It was decided to reinstate the higher fee. Students who could demonstrate financial need according to the established government norms would get help from Financial Aid and Awards through what would in effect be a partial tuition waiver. Asked by a student about other Faculties, Lightstone said Arts & Science is considering following suit. In response to another student, who questioned the justice of reinstating the higher fee, Lightstone said that privatization enabled the JMSB and Arts and Science to provide scholarships. Tomberlin added that despite the higher tuition, enrolment of international students had gone up, because where Concordia had been unknown before, now it was benefiting from recruiting efforts.

Next meeting: May 21