A meeting of the Senate of Acadia University
on Monday, 21 November 2005, beginning at
4:10 p.m. with Chair Ian Wilks presiding and 39 members present.
1) Minutes of the Meeting of
It was moved by R. Perrins and seconded by R. Nilson that the minutes of
An amendment agreed upon to 2)b) second paragraph, last sentence to read "no academic program will be implemented/adopted/enacted until it has the approval of the Senate".
MOTION WAS CARRIED.
a) From the Chair
Regrets were received from A. Irving, J. MacLeod, J. Roscoe, A. Smith, N. Van Wagoner, and J. White.
Guests in attendance at this meeting were: Shane Donovan of the VP (Academic) Office, Angela Wilson, and Colin Hoult both of the student newspaper, Athenaeum.
I. Wilks reminded Senators that the agenda for this meeting was to discuss the proposed Strategic Plan. Any motion brought forward for consideration at this meeting, would require that notice of motion be waived.
Arising From the
a) Vice-President (Academic)-
Proposed Strategic Plan
G. Dinter-Gottlieb opened the discussion by expressing her appreciation for the participation of faculty in developing the strategic plan to this point. She noted that in these highly competitive times, it was important for
Referring to statements and data analysis in the proposed Strategic
Plan, H. Hemming asked, "How do we know the points in the document,
particularly those around curriculum, were generated by faculty?"
G. Dinter-Gottlieb replied that any significant amount of concern indicated during this study, in any area by anyone, requires further investigation. If there is concern on campus, there will be concern on the part of prospective students and their parents. Therefore it must be looked into, whether curriculum or another area. She added that any curriculum change is the responsibility of faculty and the Senate. The President confirmed that this plan is a draft. At this point we are not here to question the process by which we arrived at this draft.
J. Eustace began discussion with a prepared presentation as attached (APPENDIX A).
G. Dinter-Gottlieb agreed that more attention should be paid to the traditional orientation of Arts and Humanities and the type of research that is done there. A strong
D. Piper questioned the fact that there was neither marketing research
data in this document, nor a definition for the term "transformative"
as used here.
G. Dinter-Gottlieb explained that the term transformative refers to the transformation of students into adulthood while at our undergraduate university. She noted that an American firm was hired to do the Study, as there was no one available in
S. Barkanova found the document poorly written and difficult to
understand. She felt the emphasis on a
diverse education, as outlined in this document, could put the current major
and honours programs in jeopardy.
G. Dinter-Gottlieb reminded Senators that
S. Franceschet continued discussion with a prepared presentation as
attached (APPENDIX B ).
G. Dinter-Gottlieb felt that the community based learning which students would have done in high school is volunteer, compared to that at
D. Brodeur spoke to this document with a
prepared presentation as attached (APPENDIX
G. Dinter-Gottlieb believed that engaged learning is necessary but agreed that it was overemphasized, in this document. She clarified that faculty members, within each unit, would do the ongoing strategic planning referred to in the document.
H. Wyile spoke to this document with a prepared presentation as
attached (APPENDIX D).
A. Quéma asked for clarification on the type of democratic process being thought of to reach a final draft of this document - will it be the majority choice or a balancing of the different ideas?
G. Dinter-Gottlieb stated that a balance was preferred. She noted that the faculty's fear of this document surprised her. She hoped for some innovative/new ideas and distinctive features for
In reply to a question from the floor, G. Dinter-Gottlieb agreed that in regards to community-based education and service learning, the document should say "willing faculty".
A. Thomson felt it was time to thank the consultants and move on with the Plan ourselves and the President clarified that is exactly the intent. He also had some discomfort with the teacher/student ratio mentioned in this Plan and felt that the small ratio was a marketable advantage and should have more emphasis in the Plan. G. Dinter-Gottlieb agreed and pointed out that economic realities had to be considered in regards to class size.
A. Franceschet commented on the Strategic Plan from a prepared
presentation as attached (APPENDIX E).
R. Perrins felt that the fear of control from the top had been relieved somewhat through today's debate. Curriculum change is the cause for most of the fear. He said that Senate does not have the power to create new curriculum as stated in the Plan, but approves curriculum changes that come from units, where renewal and change is constantly being done. He also asked why the creation of an Environmental program is in this Plan, when we already have such a program that is not even acknowledged.
R. Nilson felt the most important asset at
P. Abela spoke to the Strategic Plan from a prepared presentation as
attached (APPENDIX F).
G. Dinter-Gottlieb replied to the question of finances and the establishment of four new centres on campus. She confirmed that these centres have been created and maintained through endowment funds to the University and capital campaigns. Therefore the money has not been taken from operation funds. She noted that she turns to the faculty for curriculum matters, not financial matters. Therefore she felt that disclosing all financial matters was not necessary. The cost of an outside consultant to create this strategic plan was not shared information. The President felt that the process used was an effective one, rather than doing such a review on our own.
J. Gould expressed concern that the proposed Strategic Plan has no meaningful mention of research in relation to graduate programs or what role the graduate programs play in the overall plan of the University. Small classes are required for the Graduate Program and although this makes a graduate student more expensive for the University, they bring a high level of research prestige. R. Nilson noted that because the Graduate Programs were not mentioned, that does not mean that they are not included. The very deliberate and strong reference regarding these programs in the Mission Statement was sincere.
H. Wyile responded to the President's comment on the faculty's reaction of fear to this document. He felt that the responses were very sustained, engaged, and the sceptisism taken very seriously.
G. Dinter-Gottlieb closed by stating that she was very taken in a positive way, with the response of faculty. She recognized that the fear, of this document, was that it was going to be imposed upon them. She felt that the sceptisism was healthy.
R. Nilson noted that when the feedback was submitted, individuals were not asked for permission to post on the website. Therefore, this permission will be sought.
4) New Business
a) Notice of Motion
Ad hoc Senate Committee
on Proposed Strategic Plan
As this meeting did not waive notice of motion, the following was given as notice of motion:
That the Senate create an ad-hoc committee on Strategic Planning to review the draft Strategic Plan (submitted to Senators on September 27, 2005) and make suggestions for revisions to the document. This committee will be chaired by the Vice-President (Academic) and include one faculty representative from each of the three faculties. The membership of this committee shall be determined by nomination and election at Senate.
G. Ness expressed concern regarding the process to bring this motion forward. It would be valuable to hear the opinion of all faculties in regards to this Plan, not just an ad hoc committee.
The Chair noted that if this committee was formed, it would review, and revise the Plan where needed, and bring the altered text of the Plan back to the Senate for consideration.
S. Markham-Starr asked whether the Executive of Senate could help in determining the membership of the as hoc committee. The Chair replied that, if Senate did not determine the membership of the ad hoc committee directly, it would be more fitting for the Senate Nominating Committee to make this decision.
A. Franceschet moved that this meeting be adjourned. It was
Page 1/APPENDIX A
Reservations about strategic plan
I offer these
statements not by way of rejecting the plan, but by way of suggesting that it is
going to require some radical revision.
I’ve decided to focus on one aspect of the plan, Research, and to leave
other aspects to my colleagues.
1) In its current
form, the document threatens to place serious limits on the kind of research
that is done at
2) Add to that the
new privilege given to group research, and we might have a recipe for disaster
in the Arts. As an arts senator, I can
tell you that most of the work done in the humanities and the arts continues to
be done by single researchers. Articles
and books tend to be written by single authors.
That’s still the fundamental nature of Arts research. So people in the Arts and Humanities look at
this document and are struck by how little it reflects them and what they
do. I don’t know how we are going to
keep people in the Arts and Humanities here, or how we are going to attract new
faculty after the exodus, given the limited description of research espoused by
this plan. And if Bob Perrins got his
numbers right—that is the numbers saying that the faculty of Arts is the only
faculty to have actually maintained and increased student numbers in recent
years—I don’t think the university can afford to alienate that Faculty to the
extent this document does.
renewal, tenure, and promotion—which have been primarily, though not
exclusively, based on research productivity—on adherence to the plan is just
not workable, not only because of the way it again undermines the research done
by a good many faculty, but also because that’s something that would have to be
negotiated in the collective agreement.
And to put on my other hat for a second as a member of AUFA’s executive,
I will tell you that I’d be most surprised if this were even to get off the
ground with the membership. I certainly
wouldn’t want to go back to them after negotiating something like this.
4) Of course, the
alienation of Faculty isn’t the only problem here, because on page 17 the
document suggests that “Undergraduate research will not be limited to majors in
the sciences; valid research projects are possible for undergraduates in every
discipline.” I think a statement like
that alienates just about every student who isn’t in the sciences because it
assumes that the only legitimate research that is done on campus is being done
in the sciences. Just so you know, I’ve
supervised one or two research projects in the humanities at the graduate and
undergraduate levels, and my undergraduate students are almost always involved
in research of some form or another. The
fact that the document doesn’t even mention honours programmes across the
campus—the source of the most significant undergraduate research—is also a
troubling and alienating oversight.
Page 2/APPENDIX A
5) One final issue. I do understand that the university has to
review the programmes it can support, and that it isn’t desirable to maintain
research centres that aren’t productive, but the goal to decommission Research
centres that don’t adhere to the strategic initiatives, regardless of the good
work that is being done there is a problem. (See page 17).
After all of this,
my advice is that we revise this document so that it becomes much more
inclusive. I don’t think it would be
useful to reject it in its entirety, but it has enough fundamental problems to
warrant a fairly radical revision.
Dr. John Eustace
Special Meeting of Senate
regarding the Strategic Plan for
(e.g., pp. 5, 7, 8, 10, 15, 16, 19)
It is difficult
to argue that engaging students in learning is a bad thing. At the very least,
there is certainly ample research to suggest that attention plays an important
role in the acquisition of information.
I am however, concerned that engaged learning, adopted as a general
pedagogical approach could be short-sighted.
Although I know of no convincing evidence that engaged learning is
advantageous, I cannot help but be reminded of poor results achieved with one
naturalistic experiment using a similarly nice sounding pedagogical approach
carried out in public schools throughout
It is imperative that control over faculty hiring be maintained by the departments/schools that have the expertise required to determine where there is a need in their programs. The emphasis should not be on hiring to fulfill a marketing strategy such as community based learning, but hiring to deliver high-quality and comprehensive programs within disciplines.
Darlene A. Brodeur
FROM DR. HERB WYILE
One concern that has been widely expressed
by faculty is that the language in the Strategic Plan suggests the widespread
imposition of the engaged learning model, at the level of both teaching and
research. A clause in the “Building Community” section reads that “Acadia will
help all campus educators develop both classroom and out-of-classroom learning
opportunities that place students in the community for educational purposes
while addressing community issues and concerns through research …, programs or
services” (10). Likewise, a clause in the “Research” section suggests that
engaged learning initiatives will be given priority in funding decisions: “
Senate Minutes/Item 3)a)/21Nov05
Dr. Antonio Franceschet states,
“Many faculty that I represent have
concerns that the language of the Strategic Planning document we are discussing
today misunderstands or ignores the institutional and legal realities of
The first reality is the collective agreement between the Board of Governors and the Acadia University Faculty Association. The draft Strategic Planning document recommends policies that fly in the face of the 11th Collective Agreement, particularly as regards the appointment of new faculty and the process for renewal, tenure, and promotion (see in particular pages 15 and 17). Proposed changes in these areas are to be negotiated–the Strategic Plan must not ignore this legal reality. For us in Senate, it means academic policies should be determined with the recognition of the contractual relationship between the Board and the Faculty Association.
The second reality is that the expression “
The third reality is Senate’s legal authority over determining academic policy. The Strategic Planning document states that Senate must be encouraged to act or to do something or another (see pages 14 and 16). I think it would be a dangerous precedent for Senate to adopt a document that in fact presumes to instruct Senate on academic matters – it would in effect eviscerate Senate’s authority by suggesting this body is in a subordinate relationship to the ideas propounded in this document. The truth is any strategic planning document should be the expression of Senate’s will – and not vice versa. ”