Senate Notes

A regular meeting of Senate, held January 14, 2000.

Rector's remarks: Rector Frederick Lowy thanked members of Senate for their good wishes and said that he is fully recovered from minor surgery. He also thanked the service staff responsible for ensuring a smooth calendar turnover on January 1, and encouraged everyone to attend the open house and winter carnival on January 21-22. An open information meeting to present candidates for the position of Vice-Rector, Services, will be held on January 31.

Task force on advisory search committees:The deadline for accepting material on this subject has been extended to January 31.

Government incentives: Provost Jack Lightstone reported that over the past six months, negotiations have been held with the Quebec government on incentives for education in information technology. Nearly all Concordia's proposals were accepted, and Concordia got more than $800,000 of the $2.1 million set aside for capital expenditures by universities in this sector. However, in an FCAR incentive program aimed at hiring new faculty (stratégies des chercheurs), our proposals were turned down; these results will be contested. Dean of Engineering and Computer Science Nabil Esmail said policy-makers assume that the Faculty is already well funded, but it is not the case. He hopes at the least to increase the number of professors in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from 26 to 32. (more..)

Computer failure: A breakdown January 12 and 13 of the university's e-mail and Internet network was described by Vice-Rector Services Charles Emond. Despite help from staff at McGill University, the system was virtually unusable for about 30 hours, until a new part (a router) arrived. While inconvenient for users and a difficult task for IITS staff, the breakdown had its lighter side, Emond reported. When the first package was delivered, staff were puzzled that "it looked remarkably like a windshield-washer part. Somewhere, there was an equally mystified mechanic." The packages were soon exchanged, and the problem fixed.

Late grades: Registrar Lynne Prendergast reported that as of January 13, the fall term's grades had not been reported for 147 course sections affecting 2,928 undergraduates and 134 sections affecting 1,057 graduate students. Dean of Arts and Science Martin Singer apologized to students for this "unacceptable" omission by professors, and promised that it will be investigated. He added that the deadline had been extended to allow as many students as possible to change their courses. Dean Esmail also expressed his regret.

Curriculum: Lightstone reported that Concordia's Psychology program has had its accreditation renewed by the American Psychological Association; it is one of the few programs in Canada so recognized. The proposed curriculum changes in Adult Education, Philosophy and Studio Arts were carried.

Professor Emeritus: The criteria and procedures for appointments to this position are being reviewed. Lightstone said one suggestion is to create two positions, one for retiring professors and the other to acknowledge outstanding contributions. The subject was tabled for further discussion.

Core issues: This is part of a continuing discussion led by Charles Gigu¸re (ENCS) of major academic issues, namely professional development and the objectives of research-oriented programs and research. The marketplace and the ivory tower can be reconciled, Dr. Gigu¸re said. Short-term courses aimed at professionals should be flexible and, wherever possible, self-supporting. Claire Cupples (Arts and Science) said that research partnerships are of benefit to the university, but the benefits to faculty members are sometimes overlooked, especially in Arts and Science. Dean of Commerce and Administration Mohsen Anvari said the world is changing rapidly. The Harvard Business School is invading Silicon Valley, and Stanford is giving an MBA on the Internet. Athabaska University, a specialist on distance education, now has the highest MBA enrolment in Canada. Mistie Mullarkey (CSU) said that much of the so-called real world is not market-driven; Sabine Freisinger (CSU) added that the real world is what we make it. Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Claude Bˇdard said that we can expect more incentives to commercialize intellectual property. The short-term, thesis-free doctorate is coming, and the Master's degree may decline. Opportunities to do research outside the university campus will increase, and barriers between disciplines will continue to shift. Dean Esmail said he would never give up academic autonomy to government and industry, though he welcomes them as partners. Dr. Lowy said that comprehensive universities like Concordia must strike a careful balance in providing both research and widely accessible basic education. Dr. Lightstone suggested that the next installment of this discussion be more concrete.

Canadian Federation of Students' Day of Action: Senate approved a resolution virtually identical to that passed for the Quebec Day of Action held in November, calling on professors and students to work out academic arrangements if students participate. Student senators tried to introduce an amendment that would preserve all posters, etc., around the university, but this was withdrawn after some discussion. The Day of Action (February 2) calls on the federal government to restore post-secondary education funding to 1994 levels.

Compiled by Barbara Black

Next meeting: February 4

Copyright 2000 Concordia's Thursday Report.