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Senate Notes: February 2019

Senate approves Faculty of Arts and Science undergraduate curriculum changes and hears news on the university’s updated Policy Regarding Sexual Violence
February 28, 2019
By Howard Bokser

President’s remarks

In his remarks at the Senate meeting on February 15, 2019, Concordia President Alan Shepard summarized the top university news of 2019 to date.

He congratulated McGill University on the announcement of John and Marcy McCall MacBain’s $200 million gift — the largest-ever gift to a Canadian university — towards a scholarship program for McGill graduate students. He added that the Campaign for Concordia is doing well and news of upcoming gift announcements will be coming soon.

Shepard announced that on February 11 Concordia became the first Canadian university to issue a sustainable bond, worth $25 million. It will provide Concordia with the capital for its share of financing for the new Science Hub on Loyola Campus.

He reported that, for the fourth time in four years, Concordia was named a top Montreal employer by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. He congratulated the Stingers men’s hockey team for its victory over McGill in the Corey Cup, and sent along congrats to the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science for hosting 700 students at the fourth annual Concordia hackathon.

Shepard noted that in January the university held a very successful launch of 4TH SPACE, the university’s public research space, and in February hosted First Voices Week, an Indigenous-led series of political, social, academic and cultural events.

He announced that the Library will soon hire its first Wikipedian-in-Residence, a sign of the changing quality and value of Wikipedia. He added that some 70 Concordia researchers were recently awarded over $3 million in total funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Shepard also invited members of Senate to nominate worthy individuals for a Concordia honorary degree and encouraged everyone to visit the winter Open House on both campuses on February 16.

Academic update

In his academic update to Senate, Graham Carr, provost and vice-president, Academic, reported that Concordia will benefit from the federal government’s major investment in education through the Future Skills Centre. Concordia will join a number of Future Skills Centre’s pilot projects, which will help participants develop and assess skills they need to adapt and succeed in the workforce.

Faculty of Arts and Science

André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, introduced undergraduate curriculum proposals for the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Geography, Planning and Environment. Roy explained that the new undergraduate programs, a BSc Honours and BSc Specialization in Environmental and Sustainability Science, will bring together the educational streams of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and sustainability.

Pascale Biron, professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, and Christine DeWolf, associate professor and chair the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, spoke about the advantages of having multiple units come together in these strategic areas.

Senate approved the proposals.

Revisions to the policy regarding sexual violence

Lisa Ostiguy, special advisor to the provost on Campus Life, presented an overview of the revisions to the university’s Policy Regarding Sexual Violence.

Ostiguy was joined by fellow members of the Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence Sophia Hough-Martin and Mathilde Braems, from the Concordia Student Union, and Melodie Sullivan, senior legal counsel.

Ostiguy explained that the process has been a six-year journey. The key milestones included the establishment of the following:

Mathilde Braems gave a summary of the updates to the current policy and the discussions of the standing committee. She also identified the large, diverse membership of the standing committee and the creation of a subcommittee from members across the university to advance training and education related to sexual violence.

Melodie Sullivan and Sophia Hough-Martin presented some examples of how the revised policy compares to Bill 151’s requirements and to the original policy. For instance, the revised policy includes a broadened definition of intersectionality and more details of the role of SARC and outlines that third parties are subject to the policy, wherever applicable.

Ostiguy added that the Standing Committee will continue to meet regularly in 2019. Its goals for the year include organizing a second summit of universities and CEGEPs, holding a new series of community conversations and conducting a further review of the sexual violence policy. It will continue to address recommendations from the task force.

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