Senate meeting discusses US immigration order, internal grants & senate-board communications

Jan. 31 meeting sees discussion of hiring, research and committee dissolutions

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Journal file photo

On Tuesday, the University Senate’s first meeting of 2017 began quietly.

Following an action-focused statement from Principal Daniel Woolf, released earlier this week in response to the American executive order on immigration and terror attack in Quebec City, Woolf requested that senators join him in a moment of silence.

After, Woolf re-affirmed an earlier promise to take concrete steps against the United States order, urging senators to send information of any faculty or students impacted — at Queen’s and elsewhere — to him personally.

 Before introducing the new members of the Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion, he explained that to assess the internal problems of racism and inclusion at Queen’s, the University needed to be aware of the “wider world”.

Senators took the address as a chance to ask senior administrators whether the current circumstance was an opportunity to expand refugee programs and international scholarships at Queen’s, which was noted as a possibility to investigate.

Following the impassioned statement, his report noted updates such as the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’s two-year extension of the current tuition framework, which will cap undergraduate tuition fees at three per cent increases each year until Aug. 2019.

Woolf also noted the meeting as the last for Vice Principal (Research) Steven Liss, who departs Queen’s on Feb. 28 for a position as Vice President (Research and Innovation) at Ryerson.

Provost’s Report

Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon’s report touched heavily on the subject of hiring, which he called the University’s “most important” task in determining its identity.

Bacon announced that the University has hired a new dean of Arts and Science. Current York University Dean and Associate Vice President (Graduate Studies) Barbara Crow will serve a five-year term at Queen’s, effective July 1, 2017.

As well, Bacon noted a search opening overseas, for an Executive Director of the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in England, after a multi-year vacancy.

He expressed confidence that the ad-hoc BISC governing body — formed after the abrupt 2014 removal of the last serving Executive Director, Bruce Stanley — got the program “back on track” with Queen’s vision, but explained it was time to hire a director for the satellite campus.

A host of administrators and faculty — Deputy Provost Teri Shearer, Associate Vice Principal (Faculty Relations) Dan McKeown and Vice Provost (Teaching and Learning) Jill Scott — have renewed their contracts with the University, after what Bacon jokingly called “begging” on his behalf.

Though Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Brenda Brouwer declined a second mandate, she accepted a one-year contract extension at Bacon’s request.

External Review of Research

A lengthy discussion was held amongst senators when discussing a list of 13 recommendations put forward in the University’s External Review of Research Summary Report.

Senate members spoke out overwhelmingly in support of establishing more internal grants, which would focus on improving grant applications to external bodies to procure a better success rate of receiving funds.

As well, members agreed to the benefits of intensifying the “research culture” of Queen’s, and re-focusing the budget model to support the research endeavors of faculty.

Engineering Society Student Senator Emily Townshend asked Senate to consider bolstering Teaching Assistants and other supports during grant application season as well, to prevent sacrificing the professors’ time spent on grants or the student learning experience.

The report also communicated the plan to make an “enduring legacy” from physics professor emeritus Arthur McDonald’s 2015 Nobel Prize, under the pillar of communication and marketing.

Miscellaneous Motions

Most action items whizzed by, with a modification to the Certificate in Business, which was passed unanimously, to allow the program to be completed online and after graduation.

A dual M.Ed. degree program between Queen’s and the South China Normal University was voted in, along with new committee nominations and an alteration to Senate Function 10 which governs non-academic misconduct.

The change to the latter formally allows Senate to require students to withdraw for academic reasons, but removes the onus in non-academic cases, delegating the responsibility to the Board of Trustees.

When some senators expressed concern for the repercussions of the word change, they were assured that emergency provisions were also in place if there was a risk to health or safety.

Dissolving of the Queen’s University Planning Committee

A motion to dissolve a committee deemed to be “searching for its purpose” raised some alarms.

The Queen’s University Planning Committee (QUPC) was created in 2010 as a liaison between the Senate and Board of Trustees, functioning as an advisory body on matters of strategic and foundational plans of the University, and as an oversight body with respect to the annual budget development process and major capital project approvals and implementations.

The committee was described by senators as a response to the failed Queen’s Centre project, and an attempt to mitigate the risk of a repeated incident.

In 2015, though, a working group was formed to review the degree to which the group has fulfilled its mandate, meeting several times in 2016 and compiling a recommendation report.

The report recommended that QUPC be dissolved and that a new, joint committee be created in its place with a revised mandate.

However, to Senator Laeeque Daneshmend — who chaired the Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee, which reported to the QUPC — the motion left space for a disturbing lack of accountability between the Senate and the Board.

Daneshmend argued repetitively against the dissolution, claiming that a committee that didn’t function at its most effective didn’t warrant elimination — it warranted change and work.

Other senators joined Daneshmend’s sentiment, with an amendment put to a vote to table the original motion for a later date. A divided vote saw the amendment fail, and in the afternoon’s closest vote, the motion to dissolve the QUPC passed.

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