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Senate approves bicameralism recommendations

Changes to university's bylaws will strengthen Senate's academic authority
October 10, 2012
By Tom Peacock

Senate approves recommendations on bicameralism
Following a presentation by the ad hoc committee on bicameralism, Senate approved the committee’s recommendations to amend Articles 36 and 62 of Concordia’s bylaws, to strengthen Senate’s authority over academic policy.

These recommendations stem from one of the key recommendations of the 2011 External Governance Review Committee that “the Charter of Concordia University be amended so as to establish an Academic Senate in its own right … with a proper degree of authority on academic matters …” However, the decision was made to make the changes within the bylaws, instead of the charter. Changes to the bylaws can be done through the Board of Governors whereas changes to the charter must be approved by the Quebec legislature, a much more complex and lengthy process.

Committee member Csaba Nikolenyi drew attention to a paragraph which would be added to Article 36 of the bylaws, which outlines specific conditions under which the Board of Governors can nullify, revoke or modify any decision made by an internal body of the university.

“This kind of explicit spelling out of the conditions under which the board would use this power was not there before,” he said.

The amended Article 36 also stated that if the Board of Governors decides to nullify a decision made by Senate, a joint meeting of the Senate steering committee and the board’s executive committee must occur, so that the decision can be discussed before the board approves it.

 “This is where bicameralism comes alive, through the establishment of this joint committee,” Nikolenyi said.

Article 62 includes two specific changes: omitting the opening line that stated that “Senate derives its authority from the Board of Governors” and adding that Senate shall be the final authority in all matters pertaining, not just to the academic programs of the university (as the original article stated), but also to its academic regulations.

Concordia’s Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Secretary-General, Bram Freedman told Senate that the Board of Governors’ Governance and Ethics Committee has taken a look at the proposed amendments to Articles 36 and 62 and is in favour of adopting them should Senate recommend it.

President’s Remarks
Concordia’s President Alan Shepard opened his remarks by thanking the university’s Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations for its efforts in organizing homecoming weekend events. He also commended everyone who took part in the annual Shuffle, which raised more than $50,000 for student bursaries and scholarships.

The president congratulated the members of Space Concordia, a student-run astronautical engineering association based in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, who recently won the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge. The team’s winning design will be launched into space in the near future.

A team of undergraduates from the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) also received praise from the president for winning the prestigious Forces AVENIR University Program Award (in the business and economy category) for an initiative they developed called Business Building Blocks. The president also mentioned recent rankings issued by The Economist, which placed JMSB’s MBA program third among Canada’s business schools, and 78th worldwide.

Finally, the president congratulated lecturer David McGimpsey from the Department of English, who was recently shortlisted for the Governor General’s Prize for his book of poems, titled Little Bastard.

In response to questions raised about the Quebec government’s decision to cancel the increase in tuition fees, the president said the university is still waiting on instructions from the government as to how to proceed.

Related links:

•    Concordia Senate

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