In his remarks to Senate on January 18, Concordia President Alan Shepard outlined his preoccupation with the Government of Quebec’s recent decision to cut funding to the province’s universities for the current fiscal year.
Shepard said that in addition to meeting with the deputy minister and members of her team, he recently met, along with other university presidents, with Premier Pauline Marois and Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Pierre Duchesne. The discussion was cordial, and the president took the opportunity to inform the government officials of the university administration’s concerns and reservations.
“We tried to explain not only the consequences of the cuts, but also of the timing of the cuts. We asked them to consider this position again, but also to consider the next fiscal year, and the years to come,” he said.
Changes in the Services Sector
Concordia’s Vice-President, Services, Roger Côté announced that as of February 1, the university will no longer charge faculty, staff and students room rental fees for university-related events booked in spaces managed by Hospitality Concordia. However, event-related charges such as catering, renting audio-visual equipment and room set-up fees will remain the responsibility of users. Read more.
Côté also announced that university researchers are now exempt from a policy that requires them to purchase university-standard computers when buying computer equipment with research funds. For a definition of standard computers, please visit the Computer Store web page. However, researchers must continue to obtain a purchase order and place their order through Concordia’s Purchasing Department.
He also mentioned that the policy on computer provisioning (VPS-32) clearly outlines that the university — Instructional and Information Technology Services and local IT staff — do not provide support and services for non-standard computer equipment. Therefore, a researcher who buys a non-standard computer is responsible for installing the university anti-virus software to safeguard the university from cyber-attacks. The anti-virus software is available free of charge on the MyConcordia portal. There are additional requirements, which will be shared with the researcher.
However, Côté said that researchers are encouraged to continue to acquire standard computer equipment to take advantage of the benefits offered by the university. These include reduced procurement lead time, pre-installed software including anti-virus software, a three-year warranty through Concordia, technical support and workstation configurations, which are adapted to research as selected by representatives from various Faculties.
Finally, Côté provided an update to Senate on the university’s plan for a new blended approach to recruiting students in China. This approach will use the services of both in-house recruitment staff and third-party agents. Read more.
Concordia’s Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Kelley, and Interim Provost Lisa Ostiguy made a brief presentation on the university’s current fiscal situation. Ostiguy explained how the administration is planning to address funding shortfalls with the lowest percentage of cuts being addressed in the university’s academic and research areas.
While the interim provost insisted the cuts will likely be felt across all departments and programs, she said the administration has to continue to advance the long-term priorities of the university. She encouraged members of Senate to contact her if they have any ideas about how to improve efficiency and generate additional revenues. “Nothing is off the table. All suggestions and ideas are welcome,” she said.
Ostiguy and Kelley made the same presentation during recent campus conversations on the budget cuts, and at meetings with Faculty Councils, School of Graduate Studies, Libraries and School of Extended Learning.
Academic Plan Update
As part of actions designed to support the goals of Concordia’s current Academic Plan, Ostiguy said that Paula Wood-Adams, interim dean of the School of Graduate Studies, is developing a comprehensive action plan for graduate student recruitment. The interim provost encouraged senators to contact Wood-Adams if they had suggestions.
Ostiguy also announced that Concordia will hold its first annual Teaching and Learning Winter Festival in February and March. The idea behind the festival, which features workshops from numerous award-winning professors from Concordia, is to try to “develop the internal strength of our teachers at Concordia,” she said. Read more.
A new undergraduate research program was recently supported by Academic Cabinet, which will provide up to 50 undergraduate research bursaries. The program is modelled on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Awards program, which will provide an additional 48 grants to Concordia students this year.
Concordia’s Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Graham Carr said the two programs will allow approximately 100 undergraduate students to have “an extensive research opportunity over the course of the coming summer. We will be making an announcement in an upcoming NOW e-newsletter for students.”
• Academic Plan – Implementation Dashboard
• Teaching and Learning Winter Festival
• Policy on Computer Provisioning (VPS-32)
• MyConcordia portal
Senate discusses budget concerns