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Senate and Board of Governors notes: October-November 2020

Latest meetings include presentations of the Sustainability Action Plan and effects of COVID-19 on the university community
December 9, 2020
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By Howard Bokser

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Sustainability Action Plan presented to the Board of Governors

At the October 21 meeting, via video conferencing, Concordia President Graham Carr brought the Board of Governors up to date on news of the past month:

  • The virtual Open House will be held October 24; more than 3,700 students from 111 countries already registered
  • Since September, under investigation; all cases originated off campus

The board also learned about the new Sustainability Action Plan:

  • Carr reported the university adopted the Sustainability Policy in 2016; the 2020-2025 plan will evolve
  • Roger Côté, former vice-president of services, provided an overview of the history of the sustainability movement at Concordia
  • Paula Wood-Adams, interim vice-president of research and graduate studies, presented the four high-level goals of the Sustainability in Research Plan
  • Anne Whitelaw, interim provost and vice-president, academic, described the goals included in the Sustainability Curriculum Plan
  • Michael Di Grappa, vice-president of services and sustainability, revealed the achievements expected by 2025 and various stages of the plan’s implementation, including governance framework, funding commitment, baseline assessments, Sustainability Living Lab, Sustainability Ambassadors and progress measurements and communications

Senate learns of pandemic-induced community pressures

Senate met November 18 via video conferencing. Concordia President Graham Carr reported on recent news:

Gaya Arasaratnam, director of Campus Wellness and Support Services, described the many mental health challenges faced by students and all Concordians due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arasaratnam:

  • Highlighted resources available to the Concordia community, including the online Health and Wellness hub
  • Offered tips to deal with these challenges, such as learning to understand what is and is not in a person’s control and cultivating interests outside work

Anne Whitelaw had no additional comments to her written academic update report. She discussed at length the concerns of students dealing with the ongoing crisis. Whitelaw:

  • Acknowledged the huge online pivot that required recreating 1,800 courses, which translated into 3,000 course sections involving nearly 40,000 students and over 1,500 faculty members
  • Proposed some compassionate measures for fall 2020, including offering students a pass/fail option, extending the eligibility and simplifying the process for applying for a deferred exam and assignments and discontinuing courses; the university announced a series of compassionate measures for undergraduate and graduate students on December 3
  • Encouraging faculty to create a supportive and compassionate environment for students

Long summaries of Arasaratnam and Whitelaw’s presentations and faculty responses are available in the Senate meeting notes.


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