Senate receives budget update
During the most recent regular meeting of Concordia’s Senate, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Kelley presented an overview of Concordia’s current budget situation. The university is facing some difficult financial decisions following $26.4 million in funding cuts from the Government of Quebec spread out over the current and upcoming fiscal years.
As well, the government’s pension funding relief measures are coming to an end this year. As a result, Concordia will have to absorb an approximate $14-million increase in annual pension costs beginning next spring.
To deal with the deficit resulting from the cuts and increased expenses, Concordia must begin generating cost reductions of 2.5 per cent in the academic sector, and 6.63 per cent in all other areas, Kelley said.
The government has agreed to compensate the province’s universities for the cancellation of the planned tuition increases for 2012-13 and 2013-14. An agreement has also been reached on the accounting treatment of the cuts. These two factors, coupled with the planned expense reductions, should allow Concordia to balance its budget for next year, Kelley said. Beyond that, the situation is uncertain. The 2013-14 budget will be presented to the Board of Governors on Friday, April 26.
Academic Plan Update
Interim Provost Lisa Ostiguy told Senate that as the academic year draws to a close, the work of assessing the impact of Concordia’s Academic Plan so far and figuring out priorities for next year has begun in earnest.
Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning, Ollivier Dyens will present a major document outlining a new curriculum reform proposal to Senate in the fall. “We’re having a mini retreat on curriculum innovation soon, and we want to delay presenting the proposal, in case there are other ideas that come forward,” he said.
Interim Dean of Graduate Studies Paula Wood-Adams praised the work of Frederica Martin, a program analyst hired to assess Concordia’s graduate programs and help them with course development and proposals for new programs.
“The point is to remove some of the difficulty associated with the curriculum process that is currently dealt with by the graduate program director or another professor,” Adams said. “We’re really grateful to the Academic Plan for allowing us to provide this service to the academic community.”
University Librarian Gerald Beasley praised the Academic Plan’s support of the Open Access Author Fund, which helps defray the costs incurred by academics who publish their research in open access journals. “The fund has been in existence for two years as a pilot project,” he said. “We’re very happy that the Academic Plan’s funding will allow the fund to be turned into a more regular feature of the landscape at Concordia.
Senate will be provided with a more detailed review of the Academic Plan for this year during its meeting next month, Ostiguy says. “We’ll ask the Faculties and libraries to provide a full update on the benefits and results. And we’ll look at the priorities suggested for the following year.”
Policy on Contract Research updated
Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Graham Carr presented an updated version of Concordia’s Policy on Contract Research to Senate. The policy had not been updated since 1995. “The existing document was a mélange of policies and procedures,” he said. “There were elements of it that were not germane to our current reality."
The policy has been whittled down to 10 pages from 48, with much of the procedural information removed and put into a separate handbook. “This is an important policy because of the roughly $43 million a year that the university derives from research revenue. Approximately $6 million is attributed to contract research,” Carr said.
New Graduate Diploma Program
Senate approved a new Graduate Diploma in Youth Work, in the Department of Applied Human Sciences. The program is designed to prepare students for a range of professional roles working with youth. It was developed in response to a need for special care counsellors expressed by agencies serving anglophone youth in the Montreal area. “Students wishing to specialize in intervention with youth and youth studies have no specialized university option in English in Quebec,” wrote Don de Guerre, acting chair of the Department of Applied Human Sciences. “We believe that this new program will meet this need.”
The interim provost, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences, expressed her support for the new diploma program, saying it represents an important development for students in the department and for Concordia’s community partners.
Office of Rights and Responsibilities annual report
Concordia’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities was deposited with Senate for information. According to the report, the office saw a modest increase in typical activity, as it had the previous year. On top of its normal activities, the office had to handle a number of issues and complaints stemming from the student protest movement of the Spring of 2012.
The 2011-12 annual report is available here.
Senate approved a request from the Department of Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems to change its name to Supply Chain and Business Technology Management.
• Concordia Senate
• “Expanding the teaching toolbox with technology” — March 20, 2013