May Senate Notes (26 May 2011)

As emailed by Mark Jones to Caucus members, 26 May 2011:

Dear Colleagues,

I am sending Caucus members some notes on Senate, which met at 9:30 a.m. on May 25. These are not meant to usurp the place of official minutes, of course, but only to inform you pending the appearance of the minutes.

Procedure for motions. Senator Morelli noted that the Senate Rules of Procedure provide that:

All motions and resolutions shall be preceded by a notice of motion which is to be given in writing at a previous meeting of the Senate, or is to be submitted to the Secretary in time to be included in the agenda circulated before the next meeting. Otherwise motions and resolutions shall not be proceeded with, except with the consent of two-thirds of the members of the Senate present. [sec. 13]

He observed that none of the agenda items slated for “Action” were preceded by a notice of motion. The Chair observed that Senate practice with regard to notices has not been strict, but that a 2/3 majority approval of the agenda including the motions validated the motions’ place on the agenda. Since the agenda was approved by a 2/3 majority, the motions could be considered. Sen. Morelli observed that when Agendas are distributed only one week in advance of Senate, notices of motion serve an important purpose, and he asked that SORC examine the handling of notices of motion and make recommendations to Senate.

Agenda I.5.a) Provost’s Report: Queen’s University Quality Assurance Processes [QUQAPS]. The Provost informed Senate that QUQAPS have undergone “revisions at the request of the COU Quality Council” and are ready for implementation on Sept. 1. He therefore moved that Senate rescind, as of Aug. 31, policies and processes that QUQAPS will displace.

Senator Morelli asked why the QUQAPs document was not presented to Senate with the revisions highlighted. He was informed that the revisions were not for approval.

Senator Jones asked why the revisions were not presented for approval, since the document Senate approved in November had now been altered. He noted that the new “Functions of Senate” provides for Senate’s right to “approve university-level policies relating to the academic mission” (sec. 8 ) and that QUQAPS is a university-level policy document related to the academic mission. Deputy Provost Cole argued that QUQAPS is not Queen’s document to approve. Senator Jones observed that Provost Silverman had assured Senate in November “that QUQAPs could be amended after submitting it to the government if required” (Minutes, 25 Nov. 2010, p. 3): surely this implied a right of approval. Senator Jones also endorsed Sen. Morelli’s request that revisions be highlighted, and argued that whenever Senate is asked to approve or receive a revised policy document, the revisions should be presented in analytical form with rationales so that Senators can more readily assess what is being proposed.

Senator Morelli attempted to move that QUQAPS be presented to Senate for approval. The Chair ruled that QUQAPS cannot be approved, and that the motion could properly be only that they be presented to Senate to be “received by Senate.” Sen. Morelli challenged this ruling, seconded by Sen. Jones. The challenge failed to gain the approval of Senate. Sen. Morelli therefore moved that QUQAPS be presented to Senate to be received. Sen. Jones seconded. Carried.

The Provost withdrew his motion to rescind the policies and procedures that QUQAPS will supersede once it has been received by Senate.

Principal’s Reply to Questions by Senator Morelli. Senator Morelli noted that the Principal’s response to question 3 mistook a part of the question: Sen. Morelli had not mentioned “rampant corporatization” but “the disturbing trend towards the corporatization of education in Ontario in general,” and, as he now noted, this is a matter of more than industrial funding of research. He cited and provided to the Principal an article concerning the corporatization of post-secondary education–Henry Steck, “Corporatization of the University: Seeking Conceptual Clarity,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 585 (2003), 66-83–and asked that the Principal respond to the question again once he has read this article. The Principal said that he would consider responding again if the article should change his thinking on the matter.

Agenda, III.2.a. Academic Procedures [SCAP]. Proposed changes to the Policy on Transcript Terminology. SCAP proposed a revision to the policy, including the statement:

In cases where a student successfully appeals the required-to-withdraw decision, the original notation will be replaced with “Required to withdraw for academic performance for (a minimum of) (x) year(s); subsequently waived” (Appendix E, p. 17)

Senator Remenda, the student senators, and Senator Young had all prepared amendments or motions to table. Sen. Remenda objected to making the notation of “Required to withdraw” permanent on students’ transcripts, citing the common existence of extenuating factors. She endorsed the students’ motion to table the motion until September and asked that Queen’s strike a committee to conduct an overview of its policies with a view to their impact upon student well being.

Charles Beach, chair of SCAP, accepted the students’ motion to table. Senator Young also endorsed the students’ motion and added that he was shocked to learn that notations of withdrawal “for a breach of academic integrity” are subsequently removed from the transcript whereas notations “for poor academic performance” are permanent. From the perspective of academic records, he said, lapses in academic integrity should be considered of greater importance than poor academic performance. He also asked why, if a requirement to withdraw is successfully appealed, it should remain on the transcript at all, even with a notation of “subsequently waived.” “Waived,” he observed, suggests that the waiver is a matter of the institution’s largesse, and thus it does not really mitigate the censure of “required to withdraw”; but surely a successful appeal means that the requirement to withdraw should not have been made in the first place. In the case of a successful appeal, therefore, the notation of “required to withdraw” should be permanently removed. Senator Young was asked and agreed to send his comments to SCAP. The motion to table was carried.

The Principal then addressed Senator Remenda’s suggestion for an overview of policies with respect to student well being. He said this would be carried out by a Principal’s Commission.

Agenda, III.4.a.1: Department of Art, Internal Academic Review. Senator Morelli noted the passage in the IAR stating that

“The IARC agreed wholeheartedly with the External Consultants’ concern about the impact of the pending retirements on the current Master of Art Conservation program. In order to keep this sole-Canadian program viable in its present form, these faculty members must be replaced with well-established academics who have the necessary expertise in specialized disciplines.”

He asked if the Faculty of Arts and Science contemplates replacing these faculty members upon retirement. Dean Alistair MacLean answered that it did not.

Agenda, III.5: Library, Annual Report. Senator Morelli read out this passage from the Library’s report:

The Library has also seen a substantial reduction in staff. Salaries are 93 percent of the Library’s operating budget and the non-salary savings that can be achieved are minimal, so budget reductions must come from salaries. There has been a reduction of 17 positions over the past two years. This is in addition to 16 positions closed since 2004-05. Between 1995-96 and May 2011, the Library’s staff has been reduced from 180 to 120 positions.

According to current budget targets this will need to be further reduced by 12 positions in the next two years. By 2012-2013 the Library staff will have been decreased to 110 positions, a 40% drop in size from 180 positions in 1995-96. During the same time enrollment has increased; for example, between 1998 and 2008, there was a 47.5% increase in doctoral students and a 41.1% increase in master’s students. Enrollment increases result in greater demands on Library services, yet there are now too few staff available to deliver those services.

Under the current budget model the Library, like other units, is required to absorb annual salary and benefit increases as well as any across the board cuts. Unlike the Faculties, the Library does not have income from increased tuition. Consequently, this funding model will mean further staff reductions and in essence the dismantling of the Library system over time.

Senator Morelli deplored this situation and questioned the wisdom of funding capital projects from the operating budget at the expense of so vital an academic resource as the Library. University Librarian Martha Whitehead endorsed and thanked Senator Morelli for his comments.

Agenda item III.7. Operations Review: Proposed Terms of Reference for Senate Cyclical Program Review Committee. Following suggestions made in April Senate, SORC revised the Terms of Reference, adding a new provision that the committee will report annually to Senate, and increasing the membership to include four rather than three faculty members. The revised proposal was approved.

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