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Board of Governors and Senate notes: March 2022

Senate learns about the 12-week terms and fall reading week to start in summer 2023
March 25, 2022

Graham Carr briefs the Board of Governors on the university’s efforts concerning Ukraine

Chair Helen Antoniou welcomed the Board of Governors via Zoom to its March 17 meeting.

Concordia President Graham Carr addressed the current international conflict in Ukraine:

  • While universities don’t often take public stances on geopolitical matters, Russia’s invasion has appalled most of the world with its violation of territorial sovereignty and assault on civilians and the resulting refugees crisis, among other factors
  • Concordia now has 15 international visa students and 38 permanent residents from Ukraine; 17 international visa students and 45 permanent residents from Russia; and one international visa student from Belarus
  • Concordia is providing access for support to community members affected by the conflict, and working to expedite Ukrainian student admission requests
  • Other available resources include the university’s academic visitor program and the Refugee Centre, a student fee levy group
  • The university is working closely with Canadian and Quebec government officials and national funding agencies

Other news not in Carr’s written report:

  • COVID-19:
    • Montreal’s public health status is more favourable than it has been in many months
    • Other than classes by 140 faculty members who received medical permission to teach remotely plus 11 per cent of classes already scheduled for remote learning through eConcordia, in-person classes have returned, the most in nearly two years
    • For the second half of the term, the focus will be to reanimate campus life through brining back conferences, lectures, performances and other events
    • Government protocols continue to evolve, but Concordia has kept some protocols such as the campus mask mandate; vaccine passports for the gym and other venues have been lifted
    • Staff have begun to return to working on campus, although it’s still a long way from full activity
  • On March 16, La Presse reported that Quebec university graduation rates for undergraduates were down in 2020; yet Concordia actually saw an increase of 0.7 per cent, the highest growth among Montreal universities; this coincided with the university’s largest graduation classes in 2020 and 2021
  • As included in the president’s report to the Board of Governors:
  • On March 18, Concordia will launch its Applied AI Institute, which will include faculty from the four faculties and focus on three research hubs: AI for health, AI for emerging technologies and Ai for society; Éric Caire, ministre de la Cybersécurité et du Numérique for the Government of Quebec, will attend
  • Current searches are ongoing for a vice-president of research and graduate studies and dean of the School of Health
  • And congrats and best of luck to the Stingers women’s hockey team for the U Sports Women’s Hockey Championship in Charlottetown, P.E.I., March 24–27, and against McGill in the RESQ finals; two days after the meeting, the Stingers won the RESQ title; women’s and men’s basketball teams will start their playoffs on March 23

Francoise Bertrand, chair of the Governance and Ethics Committee, invited Frederica Jacobs, Concordia’s secretary-general and general counsel, to present the recommendation regarding amendments to the by-laws. Jacobs explained that the after the Board of Governors approved the School of Health in June 2021, the committee decided to look at and tweak the by-laws. The changes were not substantive. The Board unanimously approved the changes.

Senate hears implementation plans for 12-week terms and fall reading week

Graham Carr welcomed Senate to the March 18 virtual meeting.

Reiterating what he told the Board of Governors, Carr brought Senate up to date on university news regarding the Russia-Ukraine war, COVID-19, Quebec university graduation rates for undergraduates, Concordia’s top placement in Canada and North America and its gold STARS ranking and the new National Cybersecurity Consortium and Cyber Security Innovation Network.

Carr also pointed to the launch of the Applied AI Institute that day and added that the institute will be led by professors Tristan Glatard from Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and Fenwick McKelvey from the Faculty of Arts and Science. He reported that McKelvey said at the panel discussion that one of the institute’s missions is to “transform AI into AI for good.”

Anne Whitelaw, provost and vice-president, academic, and Lisa Ostiguy, special advisor to the provost on campus life, provided an update on the fall 2023 12-week term implementation, which Senate approved in March 2021.

Ostiguy reported:

  • The 12-week term will start in summer 2023, and the fall 2023 term will include a reading week
  • The website will be launched on March 21 and provide much of the information and reasoning behind the initiative
  • Moving to 12-week terms and adding a reading week aligns with the university’s goal to listen to students and support health and wellness and mental health, and matches the direction of many other Canadian universities
  • Summer terms will include two six-week sessions
  • The fall 2023 term will be September 5–December 4, with exams December 6–19 and the reading week October 10–13, following Thanksgiving; all future fall reading weeks will follow Thanksgiving
  • One value of 12-week terms is a longer break between the fall and winter terms; winter 2023 will be January 15–April 15, exams April 18–May 1 and the reading week February 26 –March 1; the website has dates through winter 2025
  • Benefits for students include providing a chance to catch up on coursework, travel home and relieve some stress; faculty benefits include added time for course prep, research and grant applications
  • The process includes three phases:
    • Phase 1, the current phase, focuses on communication; Ostiguy has and will meet with VPs, deans and associate deans, faculty councils, department heads and representatives from student services, the International Students Office, residences and others
    • Phase 2 involves the “real work” of planning and training for the change; the Centre of Teaching and Learning will help faculty learn about high-impact practices
    • Phase 3 is the integration, beginning with the 12-week term in summer 2023; there will be an opportunity during the first year to assess and receive feedback about issues that arise
  • There are three working groups looking at the initiative: logistics, internships and accreditation
  • The website also includes a news and events section and an FAQ, which will be updated, plus the email for any concerns or queries:
  • Other universities that have implemented a 12-week term and/or fall reading week have only received positive feedback

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