Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.5

November 6, 2003


Faculty of Arts and Science plans to rebuild Physics department

by Laurie Zack

At its last council meeting on Oct. 17, the Faculty of Arts and Science adopted a plan to rebuild the Physics department. The plan, spearheaded by the dean and the chairs of all the Faculty's science departments, came out of an analysis of the weaknesses of the department. The rebuilding process will be led by the new department chair Mariana Frank.

The department has been the subject of much speculation over the last two years with media reports even claiming that the department was to close. The Dean was emphatic that this was never considered and that the Council motion was guided by a desire to build a new Physics Department distinguished by its cutting-edge teaching and research.

Several deficiencies were found in the present level of teaching and research in Physics. On the research end, there is a lack of a critical mass of full-time professors engaged in peer-reviewed externally funded research and a subsequent lack of funding support for graduate students. In terms of teaching, both the undergraduate and graduate programs need to be overhauled and the pedagogy and equipment brought up to date. Added to this, the Council report underlined a lack of collegiality in the department and the need for renewal in a department having the highest average age in the Faculty and a high cost of operation.

The action plan adopted by Council calls for rebuilding the faculty ranks with an eye to cross-disciplinarity. As a transitional measure, new full-time faculty appointments will be joint appointments with other science departments and both hiring and curriculum renewal will be overseen by special cross-disciplinary science sub-committees. The suspension of admissions to both undergraduate and graduate physics programs, which has been in effect since the 2001-02 academic year, will be lifted once a revised curriculum has been approved and new professors to teach the curriculum are in place.

The Council motion was approved with one vote against.