Queen’s Creates Task Force to Finalize Academic Plan

Published on: 2010/11/29 - in Releases

Senate has struck a task force to develop an academic plan for Queen’s.

After considerable discussion at its November 25 meeting, Senate agreed to a task-force structure that includes three faculty members, two students (an undergraduate and a graduate/professional student), a dean, a staff member, and a chair appointed by the principal.

The Senate Nominating Committee is charged with selecting the task force members and presenting the slate to Senate for approval by electronic vote by December 21. Senators must make up a majority of the task force, but the Nominating Committee will conduct a campus-wide call for nominations.

Senate also passed a motion requiring that a series of town hall meetings be held to address key issues and that the process advance as quickly as possible because many students involved in the process will graduate and/or complete their terms of office in 2011.

Principal Daniel Woolf noted that much of the work on the academic plan has been completed. He would like to see more consultation over the next few months with the academic plan completed by the end of the winter term if possible. Based on the feedback he has received, Principal Woolf said that he believes the task force should look at a variety of specific questions and gave the role of writing in the curriculum as one possible area for attention. Other possible topics for discussion, according to the principal, are student/faculty interaction in first year and active and collaborative learning in fourth year.

Quality assurance processes approved

On recommendation of Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Bob Silverman, Senate approved the Queen’s University Quality Assurance Processes (QUQAPs) that were created in response to the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents Quality Assurance Framework that was approved by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) executive heads in April 2010.

Provost Silverman noted that the framework was designed to ensure consistency and cohesion among all university programs offered in the province and recognizes the autonomy of universities to determine their own priorities. In response to some senators’ concern that the university’s authority and independence would be compromised if Queen’s complies with the new framework, Vice-Provost (Graduate Studies) and Dean of Graduate Studies Brenda Brouwer and Principal Woolf reassured Senate that the COU Quality Council (QC) operates at arm’s length from the provincial government and the universities and was established to address the need to facilitate continuous program improvements while at the same time providing public accountability.

The QUQAPs will now be forwarded for approval to the QC with implementation tentatively scheduled for September 2011.

Rankings discussion

Chris Conway, director of Institutional Research and Planning, provided an overview presentation on ranking exercises. He outlined the structure, issues and applications of various rankings including the Times Higher Education World Rankings, QS World University Rankings, Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail’s annual University Report.

Following the presentation, senators shared their views on rankings. There was a general consensus that the university should adopt a more strategic approach to participating in rankings instead of a year-to-year decision-making process. Opinion was divided over whether Queen’s should participate in some rankings. Senators also expressed that whatever decisions the university takes around rankings, it needs to be better communicated and the rationale explained.

Principal’s report

Principal Woolf discussed his recent visit to India as a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) delegation. He has posted his thoughts about the trip on his blog.

The principal also addressed questions about the recent Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) report that examined the benefits of greater differentiation within Ontario’s university sector. He noted that the HEQCO document was an opinion piece requested by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; as such, a broad discussion on differentiation was appropriate and would occur during the ongoing academic planning process.

Provost’s report

Provost Silverman updated Senate on the deliberations of the Enrolment Planning Task Force. The task force has determined that under current constraints, including available residence spaces, Queen’s has little capacity to grow its enrolment on campus. In the long term, growth is only likely to occur if the university determines alternative ways of providing for it, such as on-line and distant learning. The task force will be turning its attention to exploring opportunities for planned growth and will update Senate as their discussion progresses.

The budget process continues with all budget and staffing meetings within the provost portfolio complete. All vice-principal portfolios will be reviewed shortly. Decisions on allocation of resources from the $2-million reinvestment fund will be made in January. This year’s budget decisions will be difficult, according to Provost Silverman, as quality is being compromised in many units and flexibility of student choice is increasingly limited.

Other business

• Proposals to establish the Borden Professorship in Queen’s School of Business and the Donald and Joan McGeachy Chair in Biomedical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science were approved.
• The definition of a full-time student based on course registration was changed to 60 per cent of a full normal course load instead of 80 per cent.
• The Centre for the Study of Democracy is now known as the Centre for Studies on Democracy and Diversity. The name change reflects the expansion of the centre’s activities to incorporate the work of faculty associated with the Ethnicity and Democratic Governance Project.

Information reports

• The report on the proposed 2011-12 international students’ tuitions fees, which will be presented for approval at the December 3 Board of Trustees meeting, was presented to Senate as information.
• The Campus Planning and Development, 2009-10 Teaching Awards, and Research reports were presented to Senate as information.
COU council meeting notes were presented as information.