The first Senate meeting of 2016 kicked off with heated discussions about post-secondary funding, job and internship opportunities and perceived over-enrolment at Queen’s.
In his report, Principal Daniel Woolf discussed a report released by Ontario governmental consultant Suzanne Herbert about proposed funding models that could improve student outcomes and experience.
Woolf said that the report was “disappointingly silent” on research and graduate education, and that, with a decreasing demographic of 18 to 24 year olds, there are more spots being funded in post-secondary education than there are students to fill them.
He said Queen’s has seen growth in first-choice applicants, unlike other universities, and that enrolment was at an all-time high.
Senator Jordan Morelli argued that increased enrolment has some risks. He said students he had spoken to chose Queen’s for the smaller class sizes, which shouldn’t be jeopardized.
Senator Morelli said a funding formula that expanded enrolment was to “the detriment of programs for the most part”, and asked Principal Woolf to consider quality over quantity and the impact it may have on student fees and tuition.
Developments of the Queen’s University Internship Program (QUIP)
While discussing internship options for students, several members of Senate raised concerns about the QUIP program’s logistical and financial limitations.
AMS President Kanivanan Chinniah said the 6.0 to 9.0 credits acquired don’t contribute to a 114-unit degree, but rather raise it to a roughly 120-unit degree with internship.
Senators Shahram Yousefi and Ann Tierney insisted that gaining professional experience was the real focus of undertaking such a program, not gaining course credits.
Eleanor Macdonald agreed with Yousefi and Tierney’s sentiment, but said many students are financially unable to add an extra year to their degrees. She then asked about possible financial supports for students.
Dual Degree M.Sc. in Chemistry
A motion to introduce a new dual Masters degree program between Queen’s and the University of Stuttgart in Germany breezed through to a unanimous vote.
During the brief discussion, Senator Morelli asked Provost Harrison for information on existing and projected international projects at Queen’s.
Harrison said this information would be provided to Senate at a later date, as he couldn’t recall it from memory.
International Studies Certificate
Modifications to the International Studies Certificate were slightly more contentious, but they also passed unanimously.
Senators such as Tamarra Wallace asked how the cut from 30.0 to 15.0 credits would impact those who’ve already completed the certificate and the prestige of the program.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science Susan Mumm assured Wallace that the changes aligned with the new Certificate policies at Queen’s and that the decision had been well-considered.
Leah Brockie countered by asking for the rationale for cutting the language component from 18.0 units to 3.0 units. She called the cut a “sharp decline” and said the language units are “a central component” for such a program.
Donato Santeramo answered, saying his department — the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures — used to be solely the Department of Languages.
Since the change, he said, cultural studies plays a more “relevant role”. He added that with the study-abroad component of the certificate, languages would ideally be learnt in an immersive environment rather than within the confines of a classroom.
Department of Art History and Art Conservation
Some Senators disagreed on a proposal to change the name of the Department of Art, encompassing Art History, Art Conservation and Visual Art, to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation.
Senator Morelli said that this motion “effectively formalizes the orphaning of the Bachelor of Fine Art program,” which has had its own Director since 2011.
He said that while the director was separate, it was an interim position held by an individual who also works as an Associate Dean.
The program, according to Morelli, is “not well-established on its own feet.” Harrison called this “factually incorrect”, and noted that this decision was separate from the temporary suspension of admissions to the BFA program in 2012.
The motion came to a vote and passed with one abstention from Morelli.
Permanent School of Medicine Postgraduate Tribunal
The discussion on whether to make the temporary Postgraduate Tribunal in the School of Medicine a permanent feature was relatively short.
After a few questions from Senator Leila Notash about whether medical residents had options to appeal beyond the Tribunal, the motion passed unanimously.
Studies in Primary Care Renewal, Nominations to Senate, Committee Chair terms, Student Life Center
The remaining motions passed unanimously with little to no discussion.
The Senate approved the renewal of the Centre for Studies in Primary Care for an additional period of five years.
They also approved the nominations recommended by the Senate Governance and Nominating Committee, and altered the term of Committee chairs to the Senate from one to two years.
The Senate’s final vote dissolved the Student Life Centre Constitution, contingent on the approval of the revised Student Life Centre Agreement by the Board of Trustees.
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