Acadia University Senate


A meeting of the Senate of Acadia University occurred on Monday, 12 June 2006, beginning at 10:05 a.m. with Chair Ian Wilks presiding and 32 members present.
1)   Minutes of the Meeting of
       10 May 2006
It was moved by R. Nilson and seconded by R. Perrins that the minutes of Wednesday, 10 May 2006 be approved. 
The following amendments were made to these minutes:
p. 4 - remove second last paragraph of item 4)a) regarding graduate curriculum and Senate Curriculum Committee.
p. 7 Item 5)c) - First bullet under discussion should read " A. Quéma supported this interdisciplinary initiative, but felt it is unfortunate ...."
p. 8 Item 5)c) - Last bullets to identify the speakers
Minor spelling corrections

2) Announcements and
   a) From the Chair
      - re Regrets
      - re Guests
      - re Today's Agenda
Regrets were received from A. Franceschet, S. Franceschet, R. Giles, J. Gould, H. Hemming, A. Irving, G. Iwama, M. Masters, G. Ness, S. Phillips, D. Piper, A. Smith, and G. Vaughan.
Guests in attendance at this meeting were:  M. Pearson, D. Day, M. Calfin, J. Davies, K. Pemberton (of the ad hoc Committee On Students With Disabilities That Affect Learning), Mayor B. Stead (to speak on the Canada Winter Games Motion), A. Wilson (Editor & Chief of the Athenaeum, whose request that she or a designate attend  Senate meetings was agreed to).  S. Donovan of the VP (Academic) Office.
There was no objection to bringing Item 4)a) forward on the agenda, followed by the final report of the ad hoc Committee On Students With Disabilities That Affect Learning and finish with Item 3)a).

        - re Correspondence
        From J. White on New Lay
        Senators (056-64-056)
A letter from J. White, concerning Lay Members of the Senate, was received and distributed (APPENDIX A).

    b) From the Vice-President
R. Nilson said that the search for Dean of Research & Graduate Studies continues and participation/feedback on candidates from the University community is desired.
The Learning Commons project is building momentum and the Steering Committee is active.  The four centre groups have been formed and are also active.  He noted that the renovated McConnell Hall would house the Learning Commons, classrooms, and meeting rooms.  Completion and opening is expected in October. 
The academic program reviews currently underway are on track.  Units to be reviewed next, will be announced shortly.  He confirmed that the review process will be looked at and improved where needed.
R. Nilson announced that the Trudeau Foundation is on campus this week and there are some small group opportunities available to those interested.

     c) From the Vice-President
      (Student Affairs)
P. Cook MacKinnon advised Senators of the establishment of an Enrolment Task Force.  The mandate of the Task Force is to recommend, through a consultative process, guidelines for Acadia’s full-time undergraduate enrolment for the next five years.  She noted there are no accepted guidelines for the number of students enrolled in undergraduate studies (by program and province/country of residence) at Acadia University, which makes planning difficult.  It was recommended in the Strategic Plan that such guidelines be established.  The task force will review past and present enrolment trends, admission requirements, admission averages, retention, and support programs for students.  The task force plans to complete its work in December.  It is anticipated that the report and recommendations will require both Senate, administrative and Board consideration.  Members of the task force are G. Iwama, B. Moody, E. Johnston, I. Hutchinson, P. Eirikson, M. Calfin, P Cook MacKinnon and S. Garrett.  Because many of the recommendations will require consideration of the Admissions and Academic Standing (Policy) Committee of Senate, four members of the Task Force are members of this Senate Committee.  She confirmed that the task force is not an extension of a Senate standing committee and committed to providing Senate with updates on the work of the task force throughout the fall.

  4)a)  From W. Bedingfield
      -re 2011 Winter Games &
          Acadia's Academic
          Calendar (056-62-GAM)
It was moved by W. Bedingfield and seconded by J. MacLeod that Senate hereby expresses its commitment to a timetable which includes a two-week study break in the winter term, for the academic year 2010/2011, should the Annapolis Valley Bid for the 2011 Canada Winter Games be successful.
W. Bedingfield gave a PowerPoint presentation on this proposal that outlined the History of the Canada Winter Games, Manpower needed, Financial Facts, Sport Activities, and Bid Process.  She referred Senators to the follow website for more information: 
B. Stead, Mayor of Wolfville presented on behalf of municipal support for this proposal.  He confirmed that seven municipalities in Kings County and two in Annapolis County are partners in this proposal and have made a commitment which included two resolutions for financial support: 1) to share the cost of staging the games 2) to share any deficit which may be incurred as a result of these games (no Canada Games have ever run a deficit).  He felt this event would be beneficial in many ways to the area, residences, and Acadia University.
W. Bedingfield noted that the successful bid would be announced in January 2007.  At that time the Bid Committee would become the Host Society.  It is this Host Society that would negotiate and make any contracts for the games as well as organize and operate the games and distribute its assets once the games are over.  On 29 May 06, a national committee visited the Valley site and was hosted by the bid committee and Acadia University.
R. Jotcham compared the academic calendar for 2011 to 2000, which was the year that classes began and ended late (10 Jan 2000 to 26 Apr 2000) because of Y2K concerns.  The year 2011 is a well-designed year to do a similar adjustment for a two-week study break, without extending the calendar too much or being too disruptive.
Incoming Student representative to Senate, Chris Rivers expressed the following concerns on behalf of Acadia Students: 
-1,300 to 1,400 students will be put out of residence for the two week period, 
- this represents 1/3 of Acadia students,
- by extending the academic calendar, Acadia students will be later finishing and therefore not available as early as students at other institutions for summer employment,
- he felt that shortening the Christmas break would not be well received by students
J. MacLeod spoke in favour of this motion and shared previous experiences he has had with similar games.
P. Cook MacKinnon assured Senate that the President and the President's Advisory Council would not support these games if the students did not agree and did not benefit in some way.
R. Nilson spoke of his experience with summer games at another institution  He felt that although there are risks involved, the benefits were significant and the exercise was interesting.  This motion will be part of the community group's bid to be considered and indicates that the University is willing to extend its study break by five days.  It also indicates Acadia University is willing to work with the Valley community in this venture.
W. Bedingfield closed by saying this event would bring advantages such as the opportunity for 10 to 30 million capital dollars to the University, national exposure for recruitment, and bringing the country to the Valley.  An important part of the bid is to create an Athletes' Village, so 1,700 beds at one time are needed to do this.  If successful, an internal Acadia body should be formed to negotiate with the Host Society.  This is also a wonderful opportunity for community engagement.

 b) ad hoc Committee on
      Students With Disabilities
      That Affect Learning - Final
      Report (056-63-SLD)




It was moved by S. Markham-Starr and seconded by L. McDonald that the final report of the ad hoc Committee On Students With Disabilities That Affect Learning, dated 8 June 2006, as distributed to Senators (APPENDIX B) be approved.


S. Markham-Starr spoke to this motion, reminding Senators that this ad hoc committee was created a year ago to address students with learning disabilities. 


A friendly amendment was accepted to p 4 under "Policy" third sentence to read "....faculty and staff will mutually agree upon a strategy with input from the student that meets both the ...."


Discussion took place with the following points brought forth:

· Costs to accommodate students with disabilities that affect learning are provided by external funding from the Provincial Government's Department of Education as well as the Federal Government.  There are two positions funded in this manner to provide academic accommodations at Acadia University.

· Students with a language deficit that affects learning was not considered by this committee.  The issue for this committee concerned students with a disability that could not be overcome.  A learning disability because of language may be overcome.

· Institutions are required to accommodate students with learning disabilities.

· One Senator felt this ad hoc committee should become a standing committee of the Senate which would monitor this policy.

· If this report is approved, the recommendations would become policy.

. J. Davies expressed appreciation that this report was done which would put guidelines/policy in place for this matter.

. In regards to recommendation # 16, the advisor refers to each student's academic advisor as already assigned by each department.


J. Davies and K. Pemberton provided much background information for this discussion.


Because of a loss of quorum, this item was automatically tabled.

It was agreed to defer item 3)a) until the next meeting of the Senate.


R. Jotcham reported that nine students were added to the graduation list as approved at the last meeting of the Senate.  These students were delayed, waiting for marks from other institutions.


I. Wilks expressed appreciation, on behalf of all Senators, for the work done this academic year by the Senate Secretariat.

 6) Adjournment

J. White moved this meeting be adjourned.  It was 12:17 p.m.


D. Murphy, Recording Secretary
Page  1/ APPENDIX  B
Senate Minutes/12Jun06/Item 4)b)
To:       Members of Senate
From:    ad hoc Committee On Students With Disabilities That Affect Learning
Date:     June 8, 2006                                                
Re:         Committee Report with Recommendations and Proposed Policy
Background to this Committee
Based on discussions at Senate over the past year regarding services and accommodations for students
with disabilities that affect learning, Senate created the ad hoc Committee on Students with Learning
Disabilities to address these issues. The committee’s mandate and membership are noted below.
  • To examine current policies and practices regarding students with learning disabilities at Acadia with the view to making recommendations for improvement or modifications.  In examining these policies and practices, the committee should consult Senate's Timetable, Instruction, and Examination Committee, the coordinator of Academic Support Programs, and the Equity Officer.
  • To address Senate's concerns about issues of discrimination, learning accommodation, equity, and academic standards.
  • To consult broadly with members of the University to take account of the fact that different schools and departments have different policies to address the issue of learning disabilities. (Minutes of Senate, 9 January 2006)
  • Three Senators - one from each of
    • the Faculty of Arts – Tony Thomson
    • the Faculty of Professional Studies – Susan Markham-Starr
    • the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science – Svetlana Barkanova
  • Two student representatives who participated in the panel on learning disabilities organized on 28 September 2005
    •  Tara Loughnane
    •  Megan Pearson
  • One student Senator – Josh Gould
  • One representative from the School of Education whose field of research includes learning disabilities – Deborah Day
  • The Acadia University Dean of Students – Matt Calfin (Minutes of Senate, 13 February 2006)
Senate’s Mandate Regarding this Issue
Senate has the responsibility:
 (b) to determine, regulate and control the educational policy of the University;
 (c) to determine the courses of study and standards of admission to the University, and continued membership therein, and qualifications for degrees and diplomas;
      (d) to conduct examinations and appoint examiners; (Bill No. 30, 1968, “An Act to Amend Chapter 134 of the Acts of 1891, An Act respecting Acadia University”)
At the December 2005 meeting of Senate, the Chair posed the following comments:
An important issue is to establish what the lines of authority are….Senate should articulate clearly for all faculty what their new obligations are in this regard; it should also establish the precedent that new obligations of this sort must be formally decided upon by Senate, and not by administrative fiat.
Page  2/ APPENDIX  B
Senate Minutes/12Jun06/Item 4)b)
To this end it would be useful to have a motion that is clear on both points….(Minutes of Senate, 12 December 2005)
Committee name
Senate has used the phrase “students with learning disabilities” in its discussions. The ad hoc committee is using the phrase “students with disabilities that affect learning.” We believe that this phrase better describes the situation.
Definition of “Disability That Affects Learning”[1]
A physical, sensory, cognitive or affective difference which affects learning and for which a student requires accommodation in order to acquire and represent learning.
The Committee received the following input:
  • Background material from the Senate discussions
  • From the Faculty of Professional Studies – 4 written submissions
  • From the Faculty of Arts – 2 written submissions
  • From the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science – 3 written submissions
  • From Senators – 2 written submissions
  • From Senators who spoke at Senate about this issue – 2 written submissions
  • In addition to the written responses, several verbal submissions were made to the members of the Committee
  • From Committee members, in response to various submissions – 6 responses
  • From Jill Davies, material regarding procedures at Acadia; statistics regarding accommodations at Acadia University; and policies at other institutions
  • From John Smith, material from the Learning Disabilities Association of Nova Scotia; the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada; the Association on Higher Education and Disability; the Atlantic Postsecondary Learning Disabilities Network; and the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Postsecondary Education; as well as his thoughts re: learning disabilities accommodation and the equity policy at Acadia University
  • From the Timetable, Instruction Hours and Examination Committee, input at a meeting of the T.I.E. Committee
The Committee has individually and collectively processed this input. The Committee reported in May 2006 regarding the themes that have emerged from the input that we have received:
  • The laws of the country regarding persons with disabilities
  • Current best practices in the academic environment regarding students with disabilities that affect learning
  • The assessment process, including confidence in the integrity of the process of assessing students with disabilities that affect learning
  • Education of faculty and students about the process of assessments and accommodations
  • Accountability regarding equity and fairness in assessment and accommodations
Page  3/ APPENDIX  B
Senate Minutes/12Jun06/Item 4)b)
Based on the above noted mandates of the Committee and of Senate; the input from the consultation process; and the legislative and administrative systems within which we must operate; the following is the Committee’s report.
ad hoc Committee’s Report to Senate
Several Acadia University documents guide Senate in its creation of policy. Firstly, the mission of the    University includes the phrase “personalized and rigorous liberal education”:
The mission of Acadia University is to provide a personalized and rigorous liberal
education; promote a robust and respectful scholarly community; and inspire a
diversity of students to become critical thinkers, lifelong learners, engaged
citizens, and responsible global leaders.
Secondly, the supporting objectives note that students bring with them “demonstrated intellectual         promise:”
1. To attract students of demonstrated intellectual promise whose qualities of mind and character will enable them to contribute to the community of scholarship and to take full advantage of the University's curriculum.
Thirdly, in the supporting objectives the University commits itself to not discriminating:
3. To ensure that the University will not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, gender, culture or other form of discrimination deemed unacceptable by the University community.
Fourthly, the University’s strategic plan commits the university to several values, including “rigour and flexibility in learning” (p. 3). The plan also notes that the distinguishing features of an Acadia education include “personalized education for students as learners” (p. 4).
            Thus, there are several themes that guide Senate in its creation of policy regarding all students, including those students with disabilities that affect learning. These themes are demonstrated intellectual promise, personalized education, rigorous education, and no discrimination. The report which follows is built on those themes and a set of principles that emerged from the consultation process.
  •             The Committee believes that the University’s procedures that are in place have developed, not as an attempt to circumvent Senate’s authority and responsibility, and not as an administrative fiat, but rather as an attempt to create a positive and effective learning environment in the absence of policy. The procedures that have been developed are aimed at fulfilling the University’s duty to do both what is right and what is required by law. By providing services that are in keeping with its mission and objectives, the University is doing what is right. However, the University also has a legal duty to provide services for students with disabilities that affect learning. Direction in this legal duty comes firstly from the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees that people with disabilities will be protected from discrimination; and secondly from provincial Human Rights legislation. Because post secondary education is a provincial responsibility, there is clear direction that universities must provide services to students with disabilities that affect learning. To date, Acadia University has been providing services on an ad hoc basis which several other universities are providing in a much more systematic, policy driven approach. The recommendations and policy which follow will fill the policy gap at Acadia University.
            The committee identified several principles upon which the policy should be based. These principles include:
  • doing what is right, not just what is legislated
Page  4/ APPENDIX  B
Senate Minutes/12Jun06/Item 4)b)
  • equity for students, staff and faculty
  • responsibility of the students to identify themselves
  • confidentiality and privacy regarding students’ disabilities
  • individuality of students’ situations and accommodations
  • obligations and rights of students, staff and faculty
  • safety of the student and others
  • distinguishing between modifications[2] and accommodations[3]
  • creating an environment that has less possibility of harm
            Acadia University recognizes that it has a legal obligation to ensure that students with disabilities that affect learning are not discriminated against. Acadia University recognizes that students with disabilities that affect learning have met the University’s standards for entrance, and are entitled to support and appropriate accommodations that enable them to pursue their academic programs. In keeping with the need for “rigour and flexibility in learning” faculty, staff and students will mutually agree upon a strategy that meets both the individual student’s need for accommodations and the faculty member’s requirements for academic rigour, autonomy in educational relationships, and flexibility in assessing student progress. No actions taken in such accommodations will contravene the University’s Academic Integrity policy. No actions taken in such accommodations will advantage or disadvantage students with disabilities that affect learning in relation to their peers. This policy should not limit faculty members from exercising pedagogical judgement to support students with disabilities that affect learning.
            The following recommendations are necessary actions to implement this policy. The recommendations come from the Committee’s consultation and discussions. They include both actions which the University should take and ones that the University should not take. Those latter recommendations are often based on suggestions from those who provided input which reflects ideas circulating in the University, but which the Committee felt are not in keeping with the University’s mission, objectives, and plan, or with the Committee’s principles. Several of the recommendations reflect current practice which has not been supported by policy in the past.
1.      That Acadia University recognize in policy that students with disabilities that affect learning must not be discriminated against based on their disability.
2.      That students with disabilities that affect learning be supported by Acadia University with programs that are in keeping with the University’s commitment to “rigour and flexibility in learning.”
3.      That the University include in the University Calendar and other relevant print and electronic publications the policies, procedures and programs for students with disabilities that affect learning.
4.      That programs for students with disabilities that affect learning be accessed through the offices of the Academic Support Coordinator and the Disability Resource Facilitator acting with the Registrar and the First Year Advisor.
5.      That students with disabilities that affect learning are expected to identify themselves to the office of the Academic Support Coordinator.
6.      That, in keeping with past practice, the University be provided with current assessments of the student’s disability. These assessments are to be done by a recognized external assessor in keeping with accepted professional standards.

Senate Minutes/12Jun06/Item 4)b)
7.      That the assessments include recommendations that will provide a framework for accommodations for each student.
8.      That the accommodations that can be provided by the University include but are not limited to:  alternative locations for examinations; extended periods of time for examinations, tutors, note takers, scribes and assistive technology.
9.      That all accommodations be undertaken in keeping with the University’s Academic Integrity policy.
10.  That professors will be contacted by the Academic Support Coordinator or the Registrar with the names of students in their courses who require accommodations in the learning environment (classes, laboratories, tests, examinations, etc.)
11.  That students with disabilities that affect learning, in conjunction with the Academic Support Coordinator, will provide their professors with a narrative report that summarizes their disability and the accommodations that will enable them to complete their academic work. The office of the Academic Support Coordinator must verify this narrative report.
12.  That the student’s right to privacy must not be breached in discussing and providing for accommodations.
13.  That professors honour the student’s need for appropriate and available accommodations.
14.  That professors be provided with appropriate staff and facility support in their efforts to provide appropriate accommodations.
15.  That professors be provided with a range of options with regard to examination accommodations that recognize both individual professor’s need for flexibility in creating and supervising examinations and the student’s need for such accommodations.
16.  That students with disabilities that affect learning should have ongoing access to advisors in their faculty of study. These faculty advisors would need effective and appropriate education to enable them to effectively assist these students.
17.  That the right to an accommodation cannot be withdrawn based on a student’s failure to take full advantage of learning opportunities presented.
18.  That making an accommodation for a student must not produce undue hardship on the University.
19.  That workshops be provided in each faculty, school or department to provide information to faculty and staff about the legal and logistical issues regarding students with disabilities that affect learning; to provide a forum for discussion about that unit’s issues in providing accommodations; and to facilitate the development of strategies in that unit which ensure that appropriate accommodations are provided to students with disabilities that affect learning.
20.  That students with disabilities that affect learning who have received accommodations should not have this noted on their transcripts.
21.  That a standing committee of Senate be established to monitor the situation of students with disabilities that affect learning and to conduct an annual review of the policy regarding students with disabilities that affect learning.  This committee should include Senators and representatives from the offices of the Academic Support Coordinator, the Disability Resource Facilitator , and the Registrar.
Addendum: Definitions
Learning Disabilities refer to a number of disorders which may affect the acquisition, organization, retention, understanding or use of verbal or nonverbal information. These disorders affect learning in individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking and/or reasoning. As such, learning disabilities are distinct from global intellectual deficiency.” (Learning Disabilities Association of Canada)
Senate Minutes/12Jun06/Item 4)b)
Disability That Affects Learning: A physical, sensory, cognitive or affective difference which affects learning and for which a student requires accommodation in order to acquire and represent learning. (D. Day, Committee member)
Accommodations: Adjustments are made to the mode of delivery of curriculum or to assessment to allow students to learn most effectively and to fully demonstrate what they know. The means of learning or assessment may vary but the underlying objective remains the same as for students who do not receive accommodation. In short, there is no change to standards. For example, a student might complete an oral exam with the same questions other students respond to in a written exam. No notation is provided on transcripts. (D. Day, Committee member)
Modifications: Additions or deletions are made to the nature of the curriculum or to assessment such that underlying objectives are different as compared with regular offerings in a course or programme. For example, a student might complete most elements of a course or programme but might be exempted from some components, or a highly skilled student might complete additional requirements. This results in a change to standards. Normally, notations are made to transcripts in the case of modifications. (D. Day, Committee member)

[1] See page 6 for more definitions
[2] See definition on page 6
[3] See definition on page 6