Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.1

September 9, 2004


Senate Notes

A regular meeting of University Senate, held May 21, 2004.

PhD program: Among the curriculum changes, a doctoral program was approved in the Political Science Department. Dean Martin Singer called this “a historic day” for Arts and Science. In 1997, there was talk of closing the program; there had been nine retirements and a long administrative leave, and the department had only 11 professors, some of whom did not have conventional qualifications. Six years later, under the leadership of Reeta Tremblay, Concordia has 26 professors and one of the three largest and best political science departments in Canada.

Graduate students’ representative Rocci Luppicini said that without diminishing this accomplishment, a study by Martha Crago, of McGill, showed that the completion rate for graduate students was less than 50 per cent, due not to academic quality but to institutional factors. He asked if Concordia had statistics to track this phenomenon. Dean of Graduate Studies Elizabeth Saccà said she would supply data to a future meeting. Provost Jack Lightstone said Dr. Crago is playing a leading role in this issue, but Concordia’s ability to produce the relevant statistics is limited.

Regarding the new PhD program, Lightstone said it is the first in eight years; there will be others. Some programs still have no graduate programs; the entire John Molson School of Business, for example, has only one PhD. Dean Nabil Esmail said the university cannot retain faculty without PhD programs. Such programs need substantial financial support, Lightstone said. However, Luppicini said it’s not enough just to throw money at the problem. Singer said that while statistical background for undergraduate programs is excellent, efforts to provide statistics for graduate students have proved frustrating; while Arts and Science has doubled the money it spends on graduate support, the Faculty is “operating blind.”

Creative Arts Therapies: A proposal was advanced by the Faculty of Fine Arts to give this program departmental status; it has operated autonomously from its parent department, Art Education, for many years, and there would be no resource implications. Ellen Jacob (Arts & Science) asked the size of the faculty complement. Catherine MacKenzie (Fine Arts) said there were five full-time faculty members and 24 graduate students (there would eventually be 48). Singer noted that there were other programs that could make the claim of operating autonomously within their department, such as in Education, English; currently there was discussion about elements of the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics. However, Lightstone pointed out that the process also works in the opposite direction: several years ago, a number of departments in Fine Arts were merged into Studio Arts. The proposal was carried.

Senate composition: Steering committee proposed in principle a response to requests for increased representation of graduate students and part-time faculty members. Faculty members were increased from 18 to 22, students from 12 to 15 and senior administrators from eight to nine; total voting membership would increase from 38 to 46. Singer suggested that there might soon be a change in the number of deans; Lightstone replied that this would be addressed if needed. Esmail noted that ENCS now had 175 faculty members, and this growth had not been addressed in the proposal; he served notice that his Faculty would address this matter. The Vice-Rector, Services, currently a non-voting member, was added to the voting members to preserve the balance of senior administrators; Alison Beck (CSU) opposed this via an amendment, but it was defeated. The motion itself was passed.

Research: Vice-Provost Research Truong Vo-Van told Senate that the consultation report had been sent to SSHRC, and he hopes it will be well received. It is posted on the university’s website. He also gave an overview of the new research funding to date. He mentioned that over 400 grant applications were submitted, and the new dollar amounts requested showed an increase of 34 per cent over 2002-03. Despite some setbacks, Concordia had a good success rate, with overall new funding that totals $30.8 million. He also mentioned the appointment of eight new Canada Research Chairs.

Interim Dean, Arts and Science: Rector Frederick Lowy announced that June Chaikelson would fill this post for a year or until a permanent successor was chosen.

Lightstone departure: Lowy led Senate in thanks to the Provost for his exceptional leadership of Senate and the academic sector for a decade. Catherine MacKenzie proposed, to some amusement, that he be given his metal nameplate, to which Lightstone responded that the lettering was already fading.

Officers of Senate: John O’Brien was unanimously re-elected Speaker. Dr. R.O. Wills was elected Deputy Speaker, a new post.

This was the last meeting of the 2003-04 academic year.