By Mark Jones; posted 31 May 2013. For more history on this issue, see also QUFA Responds to SCAD re Suspensions of Admissions (27 August 2012).
At its May 28 meeting, Queen’s Senate passed SCAD’s “Recommended Procedures Concerning the Temporary Suspension of Admissions to Academic Programs” with all but the first of ten amendments moved by Senator Jordan Morelli. See the appendix to this post for an unofficial reconstruction of the procedures document as passed.
SCAD accepted amendments 3, 6, and 7 as friendly. The first amendment met with a tie vote, which was broken by the vice-chair’s vote against it. This amendment would have strengthened the document by removing the word “recommended” from the title and throughout. As was noted in Senate, SCAD’s mandate was to draft “a procedure for the suspension of admissions to an academic program” (Senate Minutes, Jan. 2012, p. 7), and a “procedure,” according to University Secretary Lon Knox, is a document that “details the interrelated and sequential steps and/or actions that must be taken to implement a University Policy. They are mandatory . . .” (Senate Minutes, March 2013, p. 4, emphasis added). Thus, it was argued, the phrase “recommended procedures” violates the intent of the “procedure.”
Fortunately, much of the language that would have rendered the procedures merely optional was removed by the other amendments, and the resulting document is relatively strong. Sen. Morelli’s tenth amendment was passed with revised wording suggested by the Provost, which Sen. Morelli accepted as friendly.
Appendix: Text of the Procedures as passed by Senate (unofficial reconstruction):
Recommended Procedures Concerning the
Temporary Suspension of Admissions to Academic Programs
As approved by Queen’s Senate, 28 May 2013
Recommended Procedures for Decision Making
Senate recognizes that the decision to temporarily suspend admission to academic programs is best made by the relevant Dean(s) in consultation with her/his/their respective Faculty Board(s) (or equivalent(s)) and Senate, and subject to any policies or requirements the affected Faculty or Faculties may have, or may institute, to govern their decision-making process.
In considering a decision to temporarily suspend admissions to an academic Program or Plan, the relevant Dean(s) has a critical leadership role to play. The underlying factors giving rise to the concerns about a specific academic Program will dictate the urgency of the situation. Some parts of the procedure provided below may not be appropriate in situations requiring confidentiality regarding personnel or staffing or Section 13(1) FIPPA exemption; insofar (and only insofar) as such considerations render a measure provided below inappropriate, that measure shall not apply. In such a case the Dean(s) shall clearly indicate that some factors in the decision have been withheld for the sake of confidentiality.
In considering a proposal to suspend admissions to an academic Program or Plan, the Dean(s) shall:
1. Ensure that there are opportunities for affected individuals and groups to provide input into the decision.
2. Ensure that alternatives to temporarily suspending admissions to the Program/Plan have been explored and explain to the affected individuals and groups, including Faculty Board(s) or equivalent(s) and Senate, the feasibility (or lack of feasibility) of these alternatives.
3. Conduct an analysis of the anticipated effect, if any, a temporary suspension might have on other academic and non-academic units and/or Programs/Plans at Queen’s.
4. Conduct an analysis of the anticipated impact, if any, a temporary suspension might have on the equity goals of the Academic Unit/Faculty/University, and steps that will be taken to ensure that, to the extent possible, these goals continue to be met.
5. Develop a communication plan regarding his/her decision in consultation with the Provost, including a media release if appropriate.
6. Convey his/her/their decision, and the reasons for it, to: students, staff and faculty most closely affiliated with the Program/Plan; the broader academic community; and the relevant Faculty Board(s) or equivalent(s) and Senate. This shall be done prior to the decision coming into effect wherever possible.
Recommended Procedures Following a Decision to Temporarily Suspend Admissions
Before a decision is made to temporarily suspend admissions, it is imperative that there be a well articulated plan to ensure that students currently enrolled in the affected Program/Plan can meet graduation requirements. As soon as the decision is announced, this plan should be communicated to students, staff, faculty, and academic administrators affected by the decision to temporarily suspend admissions.
Temporary suspensions of admissions shall be time-limited (for up to 2 years) and the Dean (or Deans) shall provide an interim report to Faculty Board (or equivalent body) after the first year and each year thereafter. At least six months before the end of the initial specified time of temporary suspension, the Dean (or Deans) shall advise the Provost and Senate (with reasons) of his/her/their further intentions regarding the temporary suspension, which may be one of the following:
a. to extend the temporary suspension by a further 2 years (maximum).
b. to lift the temporary suspension and resume admissions to the original Program/Plan.
c. to lift the temporary suspension and resume admissions to a revised/ restructured Program/Plan [note: restructuring/revision may involve major modifications to a Program/Plan which, as defined by QUQAPs, will require approval by SCAD and Senate. Additional approvals by COU Quality Council (and an external accreditation body in the case of a professional Program) may also be necessary].
d. To consider closure of Programs/Plans in accordance with whatever measures for program closure Senate approves following receipt of recommendations requested of SCAD at Senate’s March 2013 meeting [see March 2013 Minutes, p. 4].
If options a, b, or c above are to be followed, timing of the decision should take into consideration, to the extent possible, provincial application deadlines (e.g. OUAC) (particularly in the case of direct-entry Programs) and publication deadlines for recruitment materials.