Jan. 30 Senate meeting recap

Senators discuss marijuana legalization and social justice initiatives

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Following an extensive presentation on the University’s ongoing and planned capital projects, the first Senate meeting of 2018 heard Principal Daniel Woolf’s priorities for his final 18 months in office and the approval of six new degree programs.

Principal’s report

With his final term as Principal ending on June 30, 2019, Woolf has outlined five specific priorities for his last 18 months in office.

In his address to Senate, Woolf said he’ll focus on developing a positive community on campus through the continued implementation of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion (PICRDI) recommendations. While Woolf said he’s “pleased with the progress made so far,” he acknowledged there’s still much to be done before he leaves office.

Woolf also plans to address risks to students’ public health and safety, mainly related to off-campus alcohol and drug abuse. He touched on what he called “a troubling trend across the country” of students being endangered by Homecoming and other unsanctioned events. While Woolf’s primary concern is the safety of students, he also pointed to how these events “affect public opinion” surrounding Queen’s. He said “we can’t overlook that either.”

Other priorities for Woolf include renewing faculty members to reflect diversity and research strength, revitalizing the School of Policy Studies and ensuring the sustainability of the University’s pension plan.

Ester Margaret Harrison bursary & Alfie Pierce Centre for Social Justice

The University has received a $2.2 million gift from the estate of Ester Margaret Harrison, daughter of the deceased John Featherson — a Kingston physician and professor in the Queen’s School of Medicine. 

Though Harrison passed in 1974, other conditions of her will had to be satisfied before the University could utilize the gift. Now, the money will be put towards a bursary for academically qualified first-year students from equity-seeking groups who demonstrate a financial need.

The University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE) had its inaugural meeting this month. Here, they continued conversations about creating an Alfie Pierce Centre for Social Justice on campus. 

The University is currently looking at a house on Albert St. as the prospective location for the centre. Should they proceed, the name Alfie Pierce Centre will have to be approved by the Board of Trustees.

Inquiries about Queen’s University Faculty Association meetings

After reviewing the Principal’s schedule for the upcoming months, Senator Diane Beauchemin asked Woolf why he hasn’t scheduled to meet with the president of the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA). 

QUFA is the exclusive bargaining agent for all faculty, librarians and archivists at the University. The association aims to advocate for a positive workplace for all the parties it represents.

With QUFA’s agreement with the University expiring, Beauchemin said the two parties will be at the bargaining table again next year. Given this, Beauchemin was concerned the Principal hadn’t planned a meeting with the QUFA president.

In response, Woolf said he clearly “indicated [his] willingness to meet” with the organization and “left the ball in QUFA’s court.”

Beauchemin also asked Woolf about an article published in QUFA’s publication QUFA Voices, which pointed to the fact that the University’s faculty renewal efforts have been insufficient in meeting the need for new hires.

“I would dispute the numbers first of all,” Woolf responded. “[And] we’re hiring 200 full-time faculty members — is it transformational? Probably not as much as it would be if we hired 400, but it’s a significant improvement … [and] the first stage of a long-range hiring plan.”

Legalization of marijuana

In anticipation of the July 1 legalization of marijuana, senators asked whether there would be a discussion hosted at Senate about how the University will handle this change.

According to Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Donna Janiec, a working group has been struck to determine how the University will adjust to cannabis legalization. The group has only met a few times, but will be holding monthly meetings up until July.

Principal Woolf requested the working group present to Senate at one of their upcoming meetings, which Janiec said could be arranged.

New degree programs approved

The Senate Committee on Academic Development brought forth several new degree program proposals, all of which were approved by Senate.

The following new programs were created: an undergraduate Certificate in Indigenous Languages and Cultures, a combined Electrical and Computer Engineering degree program, a combined Kinesiology and Health Studies degree, a PhD in Global Development Studies, a graduate diploma in Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Management and Innovation and an undergraduate Certificate in Global Action and Engagement. 

All these new programs are effective September 2018.

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