Board of Governors and Senate notes: October 2021

Senate learns how Future Concordia will help the university prepare for its post-pandemic direction
November 4, 2021
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By Howard Bokser

20210907-SGW-Campus-113-768

Senate hears plans for the winter 2022 term

Concordia president Graham Carr began the Senate meeting held virtually on October 8, 2021, by expressing his “profound sadness and admiration” for Nadia Chaudhri, who passed away October 6. The late Concordia professor of psychology had established the Nadia Chaudhri Wingspan Award, which at the time of the meeting had raised over $615,000 from more than 8,600 individuals to support the training of neuroscientists from underrepresented backgrounds.

Carr also reported:

  • In addition to funds brought in through the Wingspan Award, Shuffle 32 on September 24 raised $53,000
  • Concordia honoured National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30
  • Adamina Partridge became interim coordinator for the university’s Otsenhákta Student Centre
  • A $2 million gift from the Doggone Foundation will fund 40 annual Elspeth McConnell Fine Arts Awards for paid internships, until the end of the decade
  • A record 52 Concordia student-athletes were named Academic All Canadians
  • Concordia will hold in-person convocations in January for all those who graduated since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020
  • Four cases of COVID-19 were reported on campus the previous week and six the week before, none of which were spread at Concordia
  • While mandatory mask-wearing and other safety measures are in place on campus, Concordia has increased security and signage to ensure the rules are followed
  • The university is considering opening some spaces to the public and for student groups to hold events

Winter term update

Anne Whitelaw, provost and vice-president, academic, presented an update for the upcoming winter term:

  • Concordia is planning three modalities for classes: in-person, online/asynchronous and blended; the proportion will vary from 25 to 75 per cent
  • There will no longer be a remote-learning option
  • Exam options are still being considered
  • The goal remains to support student success

Future Concordia

Whitelaw and Michael Di Grappa, vice-president of services and sustainability, presented on Future Concordia:

  • The project aims to help Concordia plan where it should be in three to four years, to best fulfill its academic and research missions
  • The project team will consider innovation in teaching and learning and experimental and fundamental research, and focus on student success
  • Its objective is to develop approaches based on emerging trends and best practices
  • Its guiding principles include prioritizing health and safety; aligning with and Concordia’s next-gen strategic directions; supporting equity, diversity, accessibility and decolonization; committing to sustainability, including financial sustainability; using creativity and remaining tolerant of risk-taking, failure and discomfort; supporting agility, flexibility and responsiveness; and maintaining a student-centred approach and support for faculty, students and staff
  • Its six working groups and their co-leads will work collaboratively to develop options
  • The project team will deliver a progress report in January 2022 and final presentation in April 2022

Undergraduate experience

Undergraduate student representatives Hannah Jamet-Lange and Eduardo Malorni delivered a report on the current return-to-campus student experience. They related that students were split evenly between feeling that the return was mostly positive and mostly negative. Many students were also looking for more remote-learning options and wanted a pass/fail option to ease their stress.

Ombuds Office and Office of Rights and Responsibilities annual reports presented to the Board

Chair Helen Antoniou welcomed the Board of Governors to its meeting held virtually on October 21.

In addition to what was in his written report and told to Senate, Graham Carr advised the Board:

  • The New York Times published an excellent obit of Nadia Choudhry on October 20
  • RBC Foundation announced a $1-million gift for internships through the Beat the Odds program and the non-profit sector
  • Sara Cholmsky and Dylan Ross placed third in the Collegiate Ethics Case Competition at Arizona State University
  • Louise Champoux-Paillé, John Molson executive-in-residence and Barry F. Lorenzetti Centre for Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership co-director, received the Medal of the National Assembly of Quebec
  • Alumnus Rodolphe Saadé, chair of CMA-CGM, was named entrepreneur of the year for south-east France
  • The Applied Sciences Hub earned its LEED Gold certification
  • The Concordia Centraide Campaign 2021, which runs until November 12, kicked off with a goal of $200,000
  • Preliminary numbers show that fall 2021 undergraduate enrolment is down from last year, although grad enrolment is up; it’s too soon to know the impact on FTEs
  • For its virtual Open Houses, more than 1,900 people from 104 countries registered for graduate studies on October 21, and 2,700 people from 141 countries for undergrad studies on October 23
  • Concordia is racing to finalize the status of more than 1,000 international students before the Government of Quebec deadline of November 8

About half the courses are available in person this term, and about 25,000 students, faculty, staff and others come to campus each day

  • There have been 44 COVID-19 cases at Concordia since the start of term, none originating on campus
  • As of the prior week, at least 91.9 per cent of faculty and staff and 89.3 per cent of students have been fully vaccinated

Ombuds Office Annual Report

Amy Fish, Concordia’s ombudsperson, presented the Ombuds Office Annual Report 2020-21. She summarized the report:

  • While cases decreased from the year before from 432 to 397, investigations doubled from 10 to 20
  • These resulted in recommendations, the first during Fish’s six-year tenure:
    • Offer IT support for online exams not backed by Concordia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, and respond to emails more quickly
    • Develop and implement a broader view of graduate admissions to support the success of a diverse student body and under-represented groups

Fish added that she believes Concordia is providing a fair environment for students, faculty and staff.

Office of Rights and Responsibilities Annual Report 2020-21

Aisha Topsakal, director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities, delivered its annual report for 2020-21. She pointed out that Lisa White, now executive director of Concordia’s Equity Office, was director during the period of the report.

  • The office administers the university’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities and advises and assists members of the Concordia community on behavioural concerns
  • Case counts remained stable this year, with harassment being the most frequent type of case
  • The pandemic and subsequent remote learning resulted in new challenges, such as poor online behaviour, the difficulties of managing emotionally charged situations virtually and increased isolation and anxiety
  • Examples included a false complaint regarding an international student; a professor hearing online threats; and a student-of-concern — that is, one with mental-health issues — being asked to take an involuntary leave

Audited consolidated financial statements approved

Denis Cossette, Concordia’s chief financial officer, gave an overview of the audited consolidated financial statements for year ended April 30, 2021:

  • The university was headed in a positive direction when COVID-19 hit
  • The net cost to operations for managing the pandemic was more than $16 million
  • Concordia’s investment capital remains strong thanks in part to the performance of its pension fund
  • Concordia continues to be financially stable

After a recommendation by Georges Paulez, chair of the audit committee, the Board approved the audited consolidated financial statements.


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