Submissions to the Agenda Committee for October Senate (16 October 2012)

The following questions and motions have been submitted to the Senate Agenda Committee for its consideration for the October 30 meeting of Queen’s Senate.

Question for the Provost concerning the CAUT Report on the University’s treatment of Michael Mason

The CAUT Ad Hoc Investigatory Committee Report on the situation and treatment of Dr. Michael Mason in the Department of History at Queen’s University, released September 20, 2012, concludes “that administrative employees and officers of Queen’s University abused their power and acted in disregard of the wellbeing of one of their teaching employees,” and says also “that Professor Mason was denied basic rights, and that academic freedom, both as commonly understood and as defined in the collective agreement between QUFA and Queen’s University, was seriously violated” (p. 17).  It is well understood that Queen’s Administration denies CAUT’s jurisdiction in this matter. Yet this jurisdictional distinction does nothing in itself to disprove or discredit the conclusions of the Report, which was published by a highly credible authority, which has been widely and respectfully reported in the media (QUFA Forum provides many of the links), and which has been endorsed by QUFA itself.  In view of the significant damage that the Report’s conclusions may cause to the university’s academic reputation, would the Provost please explain why the Administration has never yet responded to the charges levelled against it?   If CAUT’s charges are wrong, why not publicly refute them; if they are right, why not simply apologize and show that we can admit and learn from mistakes?

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Jones, Faculty Senator for Arts and Science

*

Question for the Principal and Provost concerning the need for consultative process:

The ‘Central Function’ of Senate provides that Senate “… is concerned with all matters that affect the general welfare of the University and its constituents. Senate shall serve as a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas among the members of the University community.”

In the past year alone we have seen many decisions made by Senior Administration without any consultation with Senate, let alone with the broader University community, and these decisions (such as the suspension of admissions to the BFA program in November 2011, or the more recent announcement that the administration plans to add residence capacity for 550 new beds, which could translate into an increased enrollment of  2200 students) have serious impacts on the general welfare of the University and its constituents.

Furthermore, the ‘Purpose and Functions of Senate’ document clearly states that Senate will “participate in strategic planning for the University, including but not limited to the budgetary process and campus planning and development.”

In order for Senate to fulfill its obligations to the University we need to reclaim and reaffirm these functions.  Senate must commit to discussing these types of major issues, and we must demand that our Senior Administrators bring all such major issues before Senate prior to committing the University to a particular course of action.

Will the Principal and Provost publicly commit Senior Administration to conduct itself in a consultative manner whereby major decisions, such as those noted above, are approved or at least discussed in Senate before the University is committed to particular courses of action?

Respectfully submitted by Jordan Morelli, Faculty Senator for Arts and Science

*

Question for the Provost concerning the teaching of communication skills and disciplinary writing 

The Academic Plan approved by Senate almost a year ago recommends that Queen’s “give communication skills priority, monitor them, foster their early enhancement, and be prepared to remediate them where necessary.”  It also affirms that “university students need to learn not just general communication skills but also the discursive / communicative practices appropriate to their specializations”–i.e., that they require “discipline-specific training” in writing.  These recommendations were based on a broad consultative process that found strong support for disciplinary training in writing.  Could the Provost please inform Senate of any plans that the University has for implementing these recommendations?

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Jones, Faculty Senator for Arts and Science

*

Motion to Provide that all Queen’s For-Credit Courses, Activities, and Programs Pass Curriculum Committee Review

I move that Senate task SCAD with reviewing academic approval procedures to ensure that all courses, activities, and programs for which Queen’s academic credits are awarded, including those that are on campus, wholly or partly off-campus, wholly or partly online, offered as blended versions of existing courses, offered through Queen’s-Blyth or the BISC, developed and/or taught under the auspices of more than one Faculty, and/or developed in one Faculty for enrolment by students in another Faculty or Faculties, undergo approval by the Curriculum Committee of each Faculty that plays any role in creating, staffing, offering, granting credit for, and/or administering them; and that they be approved by the appropriate unit(s) within each of the departmentalized Faculties.

Rationale:
Courses and activities for which Queen’s academic credits are awarded ordinarily require approval by Curriculum Committees to ensure academic appropriateness and quality, safeguard Queen’s reputation, and meet various governmental and regulatory accreditation standards that apply in licensed or regulated faculties.  In some emerging practices, however, Queen’s academic credits may presently be granted for courses or activities that have not passed Curriculum Committee review, e.g.:

(a) Courses developed for distance or online delivery may coincide in course number and credit value with prior or existing lecture-style courses, and under present regulations these do not require separate approval by the relevant Faculty’s Curriculum Committee, though they may differ considerably from the lecture-style course not only in medium but in content, in the levels of qualification and experience of those teaching or administering them, in assessment methods, and in outcomes.

(b) Courses radically modified for delivery off-campus, e.g., at locations served by Queen’s-Blyth, where twelve weeks of instruction are compressed into three, appear to require approval only by a sponsoring department head.

(c) Courses, activities, or programs are sometimes developed under the auspices of more than one faculty, e.g., Law and Arts and Science, without having to gain approval of the curriculum committee in both Faculties.

All such cases raise the possibility of courses being offered for Queen’s academic credit that would not satisfy reasonable academic expectations and/or may not meet educational or professional academic standards. Senate is responsible for seeing that reasonable measures are taken to ensure that all Queen’s courses are of high academic quality and satisfy external accreditation standards.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Jones, Faculty Senator for Arts and Science

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