A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held April 7, 2000.
Rector's remarks: Rector Frederick Lowy said that both student and faculty federations had protested the new funding formula. Though no firm details are yet known about changes planned by the government, there is concern among administrators about the impact of proposed performance indicators. He also congratulated the winners of the recent student union elections.
Report on skills: A report to SCAPP (academic planning and priorities) was presented on general high-level skills that could be provided at university. These were numeracy, communication and teamwork skills, critical thinking, analytical or problem-solving skills and computer literacy. The report was prepared by Professors Bill Knitter, Andrea Fairchild, Terry Fancott and Danielle Morin.
Appraisal manual: A new manual on the appraisal of academic programs has been approved, and was tabled at Senate for information.
Research grants: Dean Claude Bédard reported that the success rate for Concordia applicants has gone up in all categories: NSERC, SSHRC and FCAR.
Teaching award: The criteria were approved for the award for teaching excellence in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.
Professor emeritus: As at the last meeting, this subject occasioned considerable discussion. Several senators expressed doubt about establishing a two-tier or "elitist" system of rewarding only a few retiring professors with the emeritus title, and objected to the automatic designation "Professor (retired)." One said it sounded like the military. Dean Martin Singer said the object should be to foster a positive feeling towards the institution on the part of departing faculty. "I would rather just be a retired professor than a professor (retired)," he said. A motion to establish "Professor (retired)" or "Associate Professor (retired)" as the automatic designation to be applied to faculty retiring in good standing was withdrawn. An amendment was passed, eliminating the criterion of having held the rank of full professor at Concordia for 10 years. The altered resolution was passed.
Fast-track approval: This subject also provoked discussion, as some senators felt that the fast-track process for approving new programs would neglect some interested parties. Several senators objected to Senate being left out, and Dean Singer felt that the dean of the relevant Faculty, and of the other Faculties, should be on the approval committee. Dean Bˇdard mentioned that with luck, the existing process can be as fast as six weeks. However, Provost Jack Lightstone said that the regular approval system is often slow because it is subject to the scheduled dates of existing bodies; the fast-track committee would meet only as needed. He added that by definition, the fast track sacrificed some accountability; if there were any doubt about a program, it would go to the regular appraisal process. An amendment was passed that would ensure final approval by Senate, with the assurance that the motion would be redrafted appropriately; the motion passed.
Curriculum changes: Changes in undergraduate programs will affect the BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education (to comply with government requirements), several courses in Geography, several courses in Journalism, and Music, where a major and minor in electroacoustic music will be offered. Changes in graduate programs affect Design Art (a graduate certificate in digital technologies), Journalism (online magazine), Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Also, a Master's program in the Creative Arts Therapies was approved; it is to be offered jointly with UQAM.
Budget, 1999-2000: Chief Financial Officer Larry English presented an update on the budget for the current year. He forecasts a $3.8-million deficit from operations; however, with the funds promised in the provincial budget, namely a $9-million injection to cover current, as well as past, deficits, the results for the current year would show a $6-million surplus. He enumerated recent budget shortfalls: $700,000 in the Faculty of Fine Arts, which occasioned some remarks from senators from other Faculties; $400,000 in the sector of Vice-Rector, Services, because of increases in fixed costs, such as fuel; and a steady increase in bad debts, which now stand at approximately $550,000.
Compiled by Barbara Black
Next meeting: May 5.
Copyright 2000 Concordia's Thursday Report.