Board of Governors and Senate notes: December 2021
Concordia President Graham Carr welcomed members of the Senate to their virtual meeting on December 10, 2021.
Michael Di Grappa, vice-president of services and sustainability, explained that Concordia’s process to secure a food services provider as of June 1, 2022, meets a series of requirements, including quality and corporate and food sustainability.
- As of December 7, four new COVID-19 cases were reported the previous week, none due to on-campus transmission
- Sabine Plummer became Concordia’s 11th Rhodes Scholar, the university’s first in a decade, and will begin at the University of Oxford in fall 2022
- Aiden Cyr was named Concordia’s first Schwarzman Scholar and will pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China
- The Society for functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy recognized the outstanding research by Zhengchen Cai, a recent PhD in physics graduate
- Paola Marino, a chemistry and biochemistry graduate student, won the People’s Choice Award in the annual Science Exposed photography competition
- Stinger forward Ambre Mah-Fifi was named to the women’s rugby first all-Canadian team
- The Stingers finished in fifth place at the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship in November
- On November 17, Concordia launched its Indigenous Futures Research Centre, co-directed by Jason Edward Lewis and Heather Igloliorte
- The Next-Generation Cities Institute moved into its new premises on the 14th floor of the ER Building, also home to the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities; there have been a number of other recent major facilities transformations, including the new Applied Science Hub and in the Henry F. Hall Building
- The John Molson School of Business was the only Canadian institution in Princeton Review’s Top 50 Entrepreneurship graduate schools rankings
- On December 1, the 2020-21 President’s Media Outreach Awards were presented virtually to 13 community members for their exceptional work engaging with news media in 2019-20 and 2020-21
- Calgary-based Flanagan Foundation donated $1 million to support Concordia’s Social Justice Centre
- Concordia launched its UN Sustainable Development Goals efforts on November 29 with an online event featuring five prestigious guest speakers
- The Concordia Centraide Campaign 2021 raised about $218,000 and counting, surpassing its $200,000 goal; the campaign continues until December 31
Carr also encouraged members of the Senate to donate to Concordia’s Student Emergency and Food Fund. He wished all a healthy year-end and looked forward to a return of most in-person classes and other non-academic activities in January 2022.
Anne Whitelaw, provost and vice-president, academic, pointed to the news in her written report about the launch of the comprehensive consultation series on the future of teaching and learning at Concordia.
Concordia Student Union (CSU) representatives Hannah Jamet-Lange and Eduardo Malorni presented a motion to reinstate the temporary Pass/DISC (also often referred to as Pass/Fail) option offered since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They reported:
- Students favour the Pass/DISC because it reduces uncertainty and mental-health and financial stress, and it increases their well-being and life satisfaction
- Turnout for the 2020 and 2021 CSU by-elections that included a question on the Pass/DISC option were up by around fourfold, to about 20 per cent, compared to regular elections
- 91.5 per cent in 2020 and 93.8 per cent in 2021 voted in favour of reinstating Pass/DISC
- The option would only remain during the pandemic; other steps, such as increasing the number of recorded classes, would also help
- Whitelaw explained that the university is reluctant to continue the option after examining the effects of the Pass/DISC option, including:
- There’s been no Annual GPA (AGPA) for two years, which impacts all students
- Participation in the University Skills for Success program, which helps students in failed or conditional standing, has dropped from about 500 students per year to less than 100; struggling students may not find their way on their own
- Students, employers, other universities and many students have expressed concern about reinstating Pass/DISC
- Concordia has already been late DISC (discontinued) option
Senate did not pass the motion to reinstate the Pass/DISC option.
Jamet-Lange, Malorni and Celeste Trianon, trans rights advocate at Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy, introduced a motion that the Senate adopt a resolution reaffirming the university’s values in opposing the Government of Quebec’s Bill 2, An Act respecting family law reform with regard to filiation and amending the Civil Code in relation to personality rights and civil status.
They explained that Bill 2:
- Includes some civil status improvements but is harmful to trans people in several areas, including trans rights, privacy and self-determination
- Will add to students’ mental-health and financial stress
- Contradicts the university’s mission, vision and values
- Was opposed by 84.8 per cent of students in the recent by-election
The reps suggested that other ways the university can support trans students include offering gender neutral bathrooms, having clear policies, recognizing preferred names and providing gender-affirming care.
Lisa White, executive director of Concordia’s Equity Office, added that part of the office’s mission is to ensure a safe and supportive environment for transgender and non-binary members of the Concordia community.
Senate passed the motion.
Board approves Honorary Degrees and Convocation Committee recommendations
Chair Helen Antoniou welcomed the Board of Governors to its December 16 virtual meeting, its last gathering of 2021.
Concordia President Graham Carr added to his report and what he mentioned at Senate:
- He thanked Laura Mitchell, executive director of student experience, for her work identifying high-achieving students such as the recent Rhodes and Schwarzman scholars
- He thanked University Advancement, University Communications Services and Gina Cody for their work on the next-generation university ad in the December 16 Globe & Mail
- Businessman and former Loyola College basketball star George Lengvari (BA 63) pledged a $1-million gift to support varsity basketball through the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now
- The university successfully went through its 13-week term without COVID-19 transmissions on campus, but in the past few weeks there were some cases in the student residences; questions remain for return to campus in January
- The recent international cybersecurity posed no direct threat to Concordia’s systems
- Key modules of UNITY, Concordia’s new Human Resources, Finance and Procurement solution, are up and running, with more on the way throughout 2022; Carr thanked leaders and champions across the university for making it happen
- Concordia maintained its rating with major credit agencies DBRS and Moody’s
Frederica Jacobs, secretary general and general counsel, presented the Honorary Degrees and Convocation Committee’s recommendations on the new policy on the revocation of honorary degrees. They are based on a review of practices of other universities and discussion at the President’s Executive Group. While the hope is to never have to use the policy, a committee will be struck to look at the seriousness of each claim, if necessary.
She also explained the proposed revisions to the Guidelines for the Awarding of Honorary Degrees. The Board passed the proposals.
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