Senate discusses changes to Orientation and reading week dates

Multiple changes to faculty names and degree structures addressed

Image by: Herbert Wang
The first Senate of second semester was held in a hybrid format.

As Senate opened on Jan. 31, AMS president Eric Sikich asked questions via Zoom regarding the sessional dates surrounding Orientation Week and the University’s “competing priorities.”

“There is a general consensus of a desire to change the format that has been consistent over the previous years as the weekend model,” Sikich said.

He acknowledged it was “difficult” to change dates and asked how the University can support students if the dates of Orientation Week can’t be changed.

Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs, noted Orientation and residence move-in dates are not sessional dates and are set separately.

“I understand the connection you’re making […] with the Senate orientation review committee, we have an opportunity there, as well with the Deans and Designates group,” Tierney said. 

“There are a lot of complicating factors around residents’ preparedness for move-in. I think that [it’s] a really good idea to have these kinds of conversations.”

Sessional dates

Principal Patrick Deane spoke to the “sacred” and “universal” purpose of reading week—which is to ensure students have a rest period where they can direct take care of their mental health, catch up on work, and be free of assignments, he said.

Deane recommended an amendment to the reading week break, as some programs have different break times in the academic calendar than the “typical” Arts and Science dates.

“We want to allow for that flexibility for other programs with different session dates to still allow for periods of resting and catching up,” Deane said.

The committee aims to find a solution aligned with the needs of “western academic standards” for next September, Deane said.

Senate passed a motion for classes to be canceled on Oct. 2, 2023, in accordance with National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Faculty modifications

Senate approved the introduction of three combined Master’s programs with the Bachelor of Health Sciences. 

The three programs include a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a Master of Science in Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, a Bachelor of Health Sciences with Master of Science in Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a Master of Science in Translational Medicine.

The motion establishing a Chair position of the environmental, social, and governance Professorship at the Smith School of Business was approved.

A name change for the Department of Classics was passed. As of May 1, it will be known as the Department of Classics and Archaeology for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Principal’s report

Principal Deane established a working group to address concerns from an Employee Experience Survey released in fall of 2022. Central initiatives will address general concerns from the survey, and unit leaders will work on specific issues within units.

Deane addressed Queen’s global engagement, namely a visit from the vice president of Nigeria at the end of November, from the Consul General of the U.S., and the German ambassador on Feb. 1 to further research connections with German universities.

Queen’s researchers have collaborated with German universities over the past five years to publish over 1000 joint papers.

“Germany is a very significant collaborator for us, and we will be welcoming the ambassador tomorrow,” Deane said.

Provost’s report

Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Teri Shearer acknowledged the start of Black History Month and a “range of activities” starting on Feb. 1.

“We can expect a range of activities happening on at Queen’s and in the Kingston community to celebrate the important contributions of black Canadians to this country and to the world,” Shearer said.

Queen’s National Scholar (QNS)—a “targeted” program to support Indigenous studies—has released a hiring memo. Established in 1985, it aimed to support the teaching and research of traditional and emerging disciplines.

Research report

The Vice-Principal Research Portfolio (VPR) released an internal grant program to fund “small-scale” research and related activities—named the 2023 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grants (SIG) program.

It will award recipients up to $7,000 for each project per year and the deadlines for applications to the program are Feb. 15 and June 15.

Potential suspension of the BFA

Norman Vorano, head of the Department of Art History, spoke on the temporary suspension of admissions of the Fine Art (Visual Arts) program at Queen’s.

“We should be adding a master’s on our program, not talking about suspending [it]. We have a department that’s actually in pretty good shape, both fiscally and in terms of interest,” he said.

Senate consulted on the possible suspension of the program and addressed the support it offers specifically for LGBT and Indigenous students.

“It is the [Faculty of Arts and Science] Dean’s responsibility to ensure that alternatives have been explored and exhausted to provide an explanation to all affected individuals and groups,” he said.

“We all know that the Dean will do what the Dean wants to do.”


BFA suspension, Patrick Deane, Senate, University

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