Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.14

April 21, 2005


Senate Notes

A regular meeting of University Senate, held April 1, 2005.

Five-year plan: The Senate Committee for Academic Planning and Priorities (SCAPP) presented “Concordia: Canada’s University for the 21st Century,” which was developed over eight months and approved in principle at the March 17 meeting. It outlines seven challenges and strategies to meet them. It will be circulated to the faculties for feedback and presented for approval at the May meeting of Senate.

University Writing Test: The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science presented two motions. One, which was endorsed by the Academic Programs Committee, would create a new course, ENCS 272, to improve the English writing skills of undergraduate engineering students; students could avoid taking the course by passing a challenge test set by the faculty. After considerable discussion, the motion was carried.

The second motion would have established ENCS 272 as the official writing course for engineering students, rather than the UWT and its required make-up courses. The arguments advanced on either side were as follows.

Dean Nabil Esmail, Terrill Fancott, Christopher Trueman and William Lynch said that word had got out among Quebec colleges that Concordia’s writing test was challenging, and this was hurting the faculty in relation to its local competitors.

In 2001, in an effort to help students identify their own writing weaknesses, the faculty set the UWT in the first term. Fully 50 per cent of new students from Quebec colleges, excluding international students, failed to pass.

It was subsequently decided that the UWT and its courses were unsuitable for engineering students because they didn’t suit professional requirements, and because the four-year program has no elective courses. In response to this challenge, the faculty had developed an alternative, ENCS 272, Composition and Argumentation for Engineering Students.

The arguments by other faculty members against the motion were that a single three-credit course could not adequately replace three 3-credit courses; that the UWT and its courses are aimed at clear English communication, nothing more; and that engineering students should not be deprived of the opportunity to take the UWT if they wanted.

Business dean Jerry Tomberlin said the UWT is not an issue in his faculty. Acting Dean of Arts and Science June Chaikelson said that the best results in the UWT, which can be taken in English or in French, come from Fine Arts students. Both said they would vote against the second motion, and it was subsequently defeated.

Next meeting: May 6.