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Senate Notes: March 2019

Senate hears news on the university’s Indigenous Directions action plan
May 29, 2019
By Daniel Bartlett

President’s remarks

In his remarks at the Senate meeting on March 15, 2019, Concordia President Alan Shepard announced that Stéphanie de Celles will begin as the university’s new registrar on April 1. He also thanked Ilze Kraulis, who had been serving in the position on an interim basis since May 2018.

Shepard offered his thanks to everyone who came out for Open House on February 16, including all volunteering students, staff and faculty. He added that between 4,500 to 5,000 visitors turned up on campus to take part in the day’s activities.

Shepard touched on Concordia’s previous announcement of a $5.6-million gift to the Faculty of Fine Arts courtesy of the Peter N. Thomson Family Trust. He thanked everyone who worked on the proposal and said the gift will support bursaries, an arts innovation fund and several field school awards for students.

He also noted that students in the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) will receive additional support through a $250,000 donation from Greg Rokos (BComm 82). The funding will go towards annual bursaries and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students.

Shepard congratulated both the Concordia men’s and women’s basketball teams for heading to nationals in Halifax and Toronto respectively. Both teams made it to the championship quarter-finals.

He mentioned that the JMSB recently hosted 24 teams at the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition on February 24, as well as 36 teams at the 38th annual John Molson MBA International Case Competition in January. Fourteen teams also competed in the Engineering and Commerce Case Competition at Concordia from February 19 to 23.

Shepard made two announcements regarding recent funding grants:

  • Chunjiang An, assistant professor in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering, will receive $4.38 million over four years
  • Nadia Bhuiyan, professor in Concordia’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering and vice-provost of Partnerships and Experiential Learning, was awarded $1.4 million for a five-year research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

He also addressed the recently released Climate Review of the Department of English, which is now available on Concordia’s website. He said the document includes disturbing news about the conduct of two staff members in the department. However, he pointed out that there are many fine individuals studying and teaching in the Creative Writing program who conduct themselves honourably each day.

The report’s 13 recommendations have been handed over to the Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence and the group will act on the review moving forward. Shepard also said Concordia has put in place several procedures and practices to dissuade individuals from taking these hurtful courses of action.

Due to privacy law in Quebec, Shepard reminded attendees that the university cannot comment on individual cases.

He acknowledged the climate change protest that was taking place in Montreal on March 15 and said Concordia ranked as the most energy efficient and sustainable university in Quebec for the 11th year in a row. In both research and operations, he noted that Concordians are paying attention to these matters.

Shepard also expressed his deep sorrow for the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings in New Zealand on March 15.

Academic update

In his academic update to Senate, Graham Carr, provost and vice-president, Academic, reported the success of Winter Open House. He said the event was an opportunity for Concordia to showcase itself to prospective students and is one of many initiatives to open up the university to the community at large.

Other events that Carr drew attention to were Concordia’s involvement in Nuit Blanche, Arcade 11, and the Hydro-Québec Montreal Regional Science and Technology Fair.

Indigenous Directions action plan

William Lindsay, senior director of Indigenous Directions, and Elisabeth Fast, assistant professor of Applied Human Sciences in the School of Community and Public Affairs, presented Concordia’s Indigenous Directions action plan. Lindsay said the action plan has six mandate areas that aim to:

  • Improve education for all learners by creating opportunities for Indigenous knowledge to be integrated into the university and pedagogy
  • Promote a better, more culturally safe environment for Indigenous students, staff and faculty
  • Increase recruitment and retention of Indigenous students, staff and faculty
  • Encourage Indigenous-led and community-based research and research-creation by and for Indigenous peoples
  • Facilitate greater opportunity for participation in governance by Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Foster an atmosphere at Concordia that is welcoming and supportive of Indigenous cultures and worldviews

Lindsay added that the path towards decolonizing and Indigenizing the university is a social justice process that will benefit both Concordia and Indigenous people.

Fall Reading Week proposal

Concordia Student Union representatives Sarah Mazhero and Safa Sheikh also gave a presentation advocating for the establishment of a Fall Reading Week at the university. Mazhero and Sheikh said the implementation of a break would benefit both students and faculty.

Danielle Tessier, assistant secretary-general, informed Senate that a working group is looking into this matter.

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