Queen’s Senate met Tuesday over Zoom to discuss the sinking of Laurentian, the University’s mission, and the plan for returning to campus.
A report on the revised sessional dates for the 2021-22 academic year was brought to Senate for information, reflecting similar changes to those made in the 2020-21 academic year.
The first day of fall classes will occur on Sept. 7 due to the suspension of “large, in-person orientation activities,” according to the report. The first day of summer classes will be delayed by a week to May 10.
The fall midterm break will be extended again from two to four days and aligned with Thanksgiving to run from Oct. 12 -15.
In his report, Principal Patrick Deane discussed Laurentian University’s decision to file for creditor protection and the suggestion that the Ontario government may try to control financial management in the university sector.
“This is a really important moment for universities in our province, partly because the roots of the Laurentian crisis are in the historic underfunding of universities in the province of Ontario,” Deane told Senate.
Listing other funding issues faced by universities, Deane cited enrolment declines and the “dramatic” impact of the COVID-19 pandemic—Ontario has provided COVID-19 relief funding to students, but not institutions.
He also said this issue raises “numerous questions” about respect for the autonomy of institutions and the boards governing them.
“It’s a very challenging moment […] because what it says about the precariousness of financing in the province and also the threats to university autonomy that can follow from situations of this sort,” Deane said.
He said the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) is working to bring these concerns to the provincial government.
Deane then brought a draft of his Strategic Framework to Senate for feedback. The document includes a statement of mission, a statement of vision, a list of strategic goals, and a list of values for the University.
The document is a result of The Conversation, Deane’s campus consultation project. Following a year of campus consultations, he prepared a report revealing the various issues facing Queen’s. The framework aims to provide an overarching sense of direction to guide the University in tackling these issues.
Deane plans to present the document to the Board of Trustees for approval at its meeting next month. Immediately following approval, he said working groups will be struck to determine “what this would look like on
“This is an attempt to give edge and point to the process of making this stuff happen.”
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green updated Senate on Queen’s back-to-campus plan in his report. Since Kingston moved into the green zone Feb. 10, Green said the ARC and Stauffer Library have opened and the return to residence is “going well.”
Green said the University is still recommending that those who return to Kingston from outside of the Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region self-isolate for two weeks and that students keep their social interactions contained to their household alone.
“With the good position we are in now, the next two weeks will be critical, and we certainly can’t let our guard down,” Green told Senate.
He said things are looking “much more optimistic” for the upcoming academic year. The University is planning a “gradual return to activity,” with small classes, labs, and tutorials being offered in-person in the fall—with safety protocols in place.
The University is also planning a full return to normal, in-person, on-campus operations next winter, pending vaccine roll-out, according to Green.
Green said the University hasn’t yet made any policies regarding whether students will need to be vaccinated to return to campus but that there have been “many high-level thoughts on how to handle it.”
Senate voted to approve the proposed modifications to the Graduate Diploma in Professional Inquiry and the Professional Master of Education (PME), in the Faculty of Education. Effective Sept. 1, the diploma will be renamed the Graduate Diploma in Education, and the capstone course will be made mandatory for the PME program.
Concentrations that currently exist in the professional master will be extended to the diploma. A new concentration in Education Administration will be added, the Education Abroad concentration will be renamed to Global Education, and the Aboriginal Education concentration will be renamed to Indigenous Education.
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