Please enable Java in your browser's "Options" (or "Preferance") menu to view this page Concordia's Thursday Report  

June 11, 1998

Senate Notes

Compiled by Barbara Black >The last meeting of the academic year, held May 29, 1998.

Rector's remarks: Rector Frederick Lowy summed up the academic year as "exceptionally positive"; there was a slight increase in enrolment over the previous year, and the Capital Campaign reports pledges and donations of about $44 million. He made special mention of recent efforts by the Public Relations Department that have resulted in increased coverage of Concordia by the francophone media. He reported briefly on the recent administrators' visit to China (see CTR, May 28).

Services: Vice-Rector Services Charles Emond reported that the enrolment management project recommends a new student information system, which could cost $8 million and have a life span of 10 years; it will be helpful to observe the performance of McGill's new system. Emond also reported that the academic services committee will set up a Year 2000 working group.

Commerce and Administration: Dean Mohsen Anvari reported that the Faculty has won an award from CIDA for a project in China. (See CTR, May 28.)

School of Graduate Studies: Dean Claude Bédard reported that Concordia researchers have increased their rate of acceptance from the major granting agencies in most areas, climbing back to the national average with SSHRC, slightly above the national average with NSERC, and, in the FCAR programs, at or above the Quebec average. The first phase of applications to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation have been successfully concluded, with 10 projects wholly from Concordia and three more with other institutions.

Ecotoxicology: William Byers (Arts and Science) expressed his concern about this program, for which applications have been suspended, saying that such small interdisciplinary units are vulnerable. Dean of Arts and Science Martin Singer said the program had become too dependent on one faculty member; thought is being given to broadening the program, he added, and in any case, the suspension of admissions is only "for the time being"; indeed, considering developments in other departments, environmental studies at Concordia "may be stronger than ever."

Operating budget, 1998-99: The operating budget forecasts a deficit of $5.3 million, which would be added to the University's long-term debt. Lowy remarked that public support for universities appears to be waning in Quebec, and CREPUQ has finally decided to take a more aggressive stand toward the government. Chief Financial Officer Larry English said this may be the last year of such cuts; the year 2000 may bring relief. However, he outlined a six-point plan, which includes several measures to be implemented in January 1999, pending Board approval:

1. An administrative/academic fee increase of $6 per credit the first year and $3 per credit more in each of the second and third years. (One million dollars will be requested from the Capital Campaign foundation to help the neediest students pay this fee.)

2. An increase in enrolment of 175 full-time-equivalent students in 1998-99, 175 in 1999-2000 and 125 in 2000-2001, resulting in a projected increase in the per-student government grant of $612,500.

3. Resulting from the same projected increase in enrolment, an increase of $280,000 from tuition fees.

4. An increase of STIP (studies-in-progress) fees, to be imposed on graduate students who fail to graduate in the time for which government grants are paid.

5. Overall budget cuts of 0.5 per cent in the academic sector and 1 per cent in the administrative sector in 1998-99, and the same the following year.

6. Increased profit from the University's ancillary services.

Abolhassan Jalilvand (Commerce and Administration), who is head of Senate's ad hoc finance committee, agreed that there is no alternative -- but that it was difficult to see how accumulating an annual deficit of around $5 million, not to mention carrying a debt of some $40 million that is never likely to be repaid, could continue indefinitely. It was difficult to verify figures in the budget, and he questioned the internal consistency of a plan that hoped to increase enrolment at the same time as it increased fees. While nearly $1 million recovered by the plan would be returned to the Faculties, he questioned whether this would be enough, and called for stronger emphasis on activities aimed at generating revenue.

Further discussion included mention that cost-saving measures taken this year take a while to prove themselves, that there were non-recurring expenses this year, and that interest rates are not fully predictable. Emond said that Bob MacIvor, who last year took over directorship of Mail Services as well as Printing Services, has overhauled and integrated these operations to the extent of $200,000 annual profit. He also said that while the joint McGill-Concordia Purchasing Services Department has not yet merged offices, they share one director and are fully exercising their joint purchasing power.

Apropos of the administrative fee, Registrar Lynne Prendergast reminded Senate that students are already registering for the winter term. She asked for "a statement" for front-line workers to use to explain the increased fees, and additional support for the increased admissions. She also asked where these new students were going to go. Emond agreed, saying that the Office of the Registrar, like other services, has seen an increased workload at the same time as it suffered budget cuts.

To those who questioned whether enrolment could be increased, several Senators said that the
estimates are conservative. Engineering and Computer Science Dean Nabil Esmail said that many more students apply to the Faculty than it is able to admit into its programs. Dean Singer said that Arts and Science now has a full-time admissions manager, Donald Chambers.

While some Senators balked at approving what they saw as an incomplete budget, others said they should distinguish between the broad picture and the details. Dean Singer said that after long analysis and "excruciating discussions," the fact that his Faculty faces only a 1-per-cent cut gives him "a tremendous sense of relief. It's a reaffirmation of our commitment to quality." However, he asked for a report to Senate next September on how this cut will be applied, and the Rector agreed.

Senate voted to recommend that the Board approve the proposed budget, but will convey its regrets that students' fees will likely be raised and the University will run a deficit.

Capital budget, 1998-99: The government has allocated approximately $5 million for renovation and alteration projects; the University must contribute an additional $2 million, and the projects must be completed by June 1, 1999. In order to cover Concordia's share of the projects, which include building larger classrooms and addressing CSST issues of health and safety, approximately $1 million a year for the next two years has been committed from the capital budget allocation. Vice-Rector Emond said that as a result, very little funding remains for other capital renovations and alterations for the next two years. The capital budget was recommended for approval by the Board.

Academic regulations: On the recommendation of a task force, revisions were approved to re-evaluate procedures, the academic code of conduct, and criteria for high academic achievement.

Curriculum changes: Changes were approved in Arts and
Science, Commerce and Administration, and Engineering and Computer Science. In ECS, the changes included acceptance of a new program in Software Engineering (see CTR, May 7). Dean Esmail said there is enormous demand, and his Faculty is determined to be the first in Quebec to offer this degree. Fifty students will be accepted in September, and within four years, there will be 170 students; attrition will be slight, because the calibre of students will be so selective. Esmail said it would cost between $637,000 and $880,000 to offer the program, including the hiring of a minimum of four full-time faculty. The proposal for the program was carried.

Student bill of rights: Once again, this document was tabled until the next academic year. Dean of Students Roger Côté paid tribute to Concordia Student Union (CSU) vice-president internal Christine Cogger, who had worked on it for several years, and is about to graduate.

Graduate students' fee structure: These measures include a substantial increase in the STIP fee over three years, beginning in 1999-2000, plus measures to address longstanding inequities, particularly the requirement that Diploma students pay an $80 fee for not taking unavailable courses. A graduate student representative said there had been insufficient consultation with students. The proposed changes were presented to Senate for information only, and will be presented to the Board for approval.

Loyola: Included in the plan quinquennal (five-year plan) recently submitted to the government was the proposal to revitalize the Loyola Campus. The Rector said he had received hundreds of messages and phone calls on the subject, even at home. Data are being analyzed having to do with moving costs and construction, and he hopes for a response from the government in the near future. June Chaikelson (Arts and Science) remarked dryly that Senators had had a taste of the degeneration of services at Loyola when they broke for lunch and found no food services open on the west-end campus.

John O'Brien was re-elected Speaker of Senate for another term, and was thanked for his work during his current term. In closing, the Rector introduced incoming CSU president David Smaller, and Christine Cogger read a statement from outgoing president Rebecca Aldworth deploring the closing of the Centre for Ecotoxicology.

Rector Frederick Lowy, L.-Jacques Ménard, deputy chair of Nesbitt Burns, and Gilles Jarry, first vice-president, Quebec, of the Bank of Montreal, have a little fun at an automatic teller with a giant mock-up of a cheque for $550,000. It represents a five-year pledge to the University's Capital Campaign from the Bank of Montreal and Nesbitt Burns. The money will go toward scholarships and student awards.

Copyright 1998 Thursday Report.