Mark Jones, Farewell APTF (25 July 2011)

As emailed to Senators on 24 July 2011 with two attachments:

On Virtualization and Differentiation of Ontario Universities

Resources

Dear Senators and Colleagues,

I attach drafts, just completed, towards two sections of the Academic Plan: one long, on virtualization and related issues, and one short, on a possible financial remedy. I have just submitted both to the APTF for its discussion and approval.

As I am now on sabbatical (since July 1), I regret to say that these will be my last contributions as a member of the APTF, supposing that the Plan is held to its September ETA. My sabbatical was planned before the task force was struck, and since my request for release time so that I might continue work on the planning has been declined, the fact is that I cannot afford to give more of my own sabbatical research time than I already have to the work of the Task Force. But I do sincerely thank the Senate for the opportunity to participate in this very important work for the future of Queen’s.

I wish to stress, in leaving, how much Senate and its Task Force have accomplished. Beginning with Senate’s vote to appoint the Task Force, we have opened up the academic planning process in a way that rarely occurs on a university campus. We met twice a week during winter term, and in addition held about 30 consultations, from small meetings to town-halls, between February and April. We did our best (and this was harder than it may sound) to get access to and collect all of the unit responses written between January and April 2010, so that their input would not be lost to the planning process. We created a transparent and interactive website, which not only prompts and collects input from all community members, but even posts the drafts in progress for review and for comments. On this website we posted the “takeaways” for as many of our consultations as we could find time to write up, so that they remain an open record of what we heard. In our drafts, we have amply quoted from and cited our sources in community input and contemporary scholarship. In short, we have done our best to create a model for an open, communal, and interactive academic planning process. My hope is that this website will remain up and that the process will become perpetual, for there are always some emerging issues on campus that demand an ongoing discussion in an open forum.

At present, the plan itself exists in several drafts that have been posted. I myself have done what I could, including the drafts on Communication and Writing Skills and on Interdisciplinarity, plus those that I have just submitted to you and the Task Force. I edited and contributed to many of the other members’ drafts, and wrote up many of the consultations. But there remains a great deal to be done, and the Task Force itself is dwindling. Of the members who have been actively contributing, we may be losing three: the undergraduate member has graduated and moved away, but is still in touch; the graduate member said he would stay until July, but is still, for the time being, contributing; and I am going on leave. That leaves very few to complete the work, especially in summer, when many are away from time to time, and there is much to be completed. There has been discussion in the Task Force of hiring a professional writer, but that does not seem to me to be a solution within the spirit of the Task Force’s Senate mandate. I therefore depart with a recommendation, both as a Senator and a Task Force member (albeit on leave) that Senate consider appointing some capable and willing replacements if it wishes to see the plan completed in due course.

Sincerely,

Mark Jones

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