Senate addresses financial concerns with University library systems

Jewish studies and new undergraduate law certificate discussed in Nov. 1 Senate

During the Nov. 1 meeting of Queen’s Senate, several program reviews were presented to senators for debate.

Review reports were available for cultural studies, environmental studies, fine art, geography and planning, global development, Jewish studies, law and political studies, leading to conversation on both concerns and newly developed initiatives within each. 

Cyclical Program Reviews

The Senate Cyclical Program Review Committee’s latest report, published data regarding eight programs.

Programs at Queen’s are subject to review by the Senate Committee every few years, in order to assess specific strengths and weaknesses and spaces for improvement within each program.

Political studies professor and Senator Oded Haklai voiced his concerns that there were gaps in data presented in the review documentation of the Jewish studies program. The study recommended that the program either be discontinued, or modified to be Jewish and Muslim studies or Jewish history.

Jill Scott, vice-provost (teaching and learning), assured Senate that the lack of data was a result of the fact that the Jewish studies program is much smaller than other units. Interim Dean of Arts and Science, Gordon Smith, commented   that while “other credential pathways are being explored, certainly the intent is not to eliminate Jewish studies.”

Senate Library Committee Presentation

Vice-Provost and University Librarian, Martha Whitehead, delivered a presentation on behalf of the Senate Library Committee, addressing concerns about accessing academic journals in
future years.

Despite various increases to their budget, the University’s libraries still face a deficit this year.

The key issue, she argued, is that the University libraries spend 44 per cent of their budget on only five major publishers, who require universities to buy their entire collection of journals should they be interested even in only one.

This practice can cost upwards of $1 million per year, with costs increasing annually.

Whitehead explained that, after surveying Queen’s researchers, there was great concern that “scholarly publishing is being controlled by commercial interest.”

According to her, these difficulties could indicate a progression towards open access journals, as many librarians feel “the system is broken.”

Queen’s professors and researchers will be asked to partake in a survey this week, in which they will list the top 10 or 15 academic journals that they use, in order for the libraries to get a sense of how to prioritize collections.

Undergraduate Law Certificate

Prior to the meeting’s discussion on cyclical program reviews, a motion was passed to create another undergraduate certificate this one in Law. It will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The certificate was designed to be accessible to distance learners and students registered in other institutions as well as Queen’s students in their second to fourth years.

It requires students to complete four courses, each three credits, of which three must be selected from the Faculty of Law’s offerings or those approved within the Faculty of Arts and Science or the Smith School of Business.

The certificate joins numerous other certification programs that have recently been created to bolster undergraduate degrees. 

Closure of the Bachelor of Physical Health Education Program

After announcing the suspension of admissions to the Bachelor of Physical Health Education program in March, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Gordon Smith announced that the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies has voted to close the program.

Principal’s Report

Daniel Woolf’s address to Senate this Tuesday touched on upcoming changes to the tuition framework.

The current Ontario tuition cap of three per cent is due to expire this year, and Queen’s has sent a submission to the government with their recommendations regarding tuition increases. Woolf said he expects to receive a decision before the end of this year.

However, Woolf noted that based on “political signals”, he thinks it`s unlikely the tuition cap will be raised.

The University is also in the final year of its strategic mandate agreement with the government. Woolf says he expects negotiations for the 2017-21 mandate to begin in around nine months.

Woolf also announced that the Fall Term Break Task Force will be connecting with various stakeholders over the next month, and will conduct a consultation with Senate at their next meeting on Nov. 29.

These consultations include a Fall Break survey, recently shared with the student body through an emailed AMS newsletter.

Other Business

A second letter on faculty diversity, written by former Journal Editor-in-Chief Anisa Rawhani, was referred to the Senate Education Equity Committee.

The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health published their annual report, included in the Senate agenda. A large portion of their report on promoting a healthy campus community focused on the implementation of sexual violence and harassment measures over the last year.

The opening of new residences and establishment of more transitionary services for new students were also noted in the report, along with ongoing projects such as the impending Wellness Centre construction.

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