Following each meeting of the Dalhousie University Senate, Dal News highlights some of the presentations and decisions made.
Senate is the university’s senior academic governing body, with membership consisting of elected representatives from Dal’s Faculties and the University Libraries, elected student representatives, a representative from the University of King’s College and Dal’s senior academic administrators. Senate is responsible for approving new programs; granting degrees/diplomas; managing the reviews of Faculties, centres and institutes; and setting academic regulations and the academic calendar.
Senate meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, from September through June. Learn more about Senate and its business at the Senate website.
Approval of Institute for Research in Materials modification and name change proposal
Senate approved a new name and refocusing of Dalhousie’s Institute for Research in Materials, which will now be known as the Clean Technologies Research Institute (CTRI).
Josef Zwanziger, professor in the Department of Chemistry and interim director of IRM, presented the name change and modification recommended by the Senate Planning and Governance Committee. IRM is a cross-faculty research network created in 2002 to promote collaboration in material science and engineering at Dal.
“Over the years, it came to be felt that while that’s a good idea, it’s possibly not as agile as it could be and not as responsive to opportunities as it could be,” said Dr. Zwanziger. He explained the rationale behind the modification grew out of the Senate review of IRM in January 2015 that showed a need to refocus and reenergize the group.
While CTRI will continue to be a multi-faculty and multi-disciplinary institute aimed at advocating for large-scale collaborative research efforts, its focus will now be squarely on clean technology— one of the four key research pillars identified in the university’s Strategic Research Plan.
Faculty of Dentistry update on the Task Force recommendations
Tom Boran, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, was joined by students Abby Barton, Sarah Grant and Dave Ropson to provide an update on recent progress made in the Faculty toward implementing recommendations made in a report by the task force set up after the discovery of a misogynistic Facebook group in December 2014.
Dr. Boran informed Senate that all of the Faculty’s Dentistry and Dental Hygiene programs have received full accreditation. He then provided a rundown of some of the positive changes taking place in the Faculty as a result of various initiatives aimed at improving culture and climate, hitting upon achievements in communications, curriculum renewal, community outreach, and reducing isolation.
The students then provided a snapshot of some of the specific efforts they have been making through the Dalhousie Dentistry Student Society, including getting more students involved in student leadership and fostering greater collaboration between Dentistry, Dental Hygiene, and Qualifying Program students. They have also put measures in place to make social events more inclusive of all students, including those of different faiths and families.
“As we look back over our journey these last couple of years, we realize that what started as a very difficult and upsetting experience has become a very exciting time for us,” said Abby. “We’ve made significant strides as a student society and as a Faculty as a whole.”
Senate review of University Libraries
William Barker, Chair of the Senate Review Committee for the University Libraries, provided highlights of the findings of a strategic review of the Libraries undertaken in 2015 and 2016.
The review committee highlighted that the university's libraries are undergoing important changes, some driven by internal requirements and others by shifts in academic and research environments. The review found that the libraries have taken on new changes to traditional roles with enthusiasm and are doing "an excellent job" considering their resources, environment and current situation.
However, the review also highlighted that the libraries need to ensure, against the backdrop of some of these changes, that they can continue to support academic diversity and meet the needs of different sub-units at the university. Thus, said Dr. Barker, an ongoing challenge will be sufficient budgetary support for the many changing as well as traditional roles of the libraries.
Presentation of Dalhousie’s draft Gift Acceptance Policy
Senate received an overview of Dalhousie’s draft Gift Acceptance Policy from Peter Fardy, vice-president of Advancement. The intention with the policy (the first of its kind at Dal) is to formalize practices around gift acceptance to ensure they meet the university's high ethical standards and commitment to institutional autonomy and academic freedom, as well as compliance with any applicable legislation or regulation.
The draft policy, which was previously presented to Deans’ Council and the Provost Committee for feedback, creates a structured framework for the review and acceptance of gifts to the university and its affiliates. It lays out the different types of gifts that may be accepted by the university and the conditions under which the university should not accept a gift.
After feedback is incorporated, it is anticipated that the draft policy will be presented to the Board of Governors for approval at its June meeting.
Presentation on Strategic Priority 2.2 on attracting and retaining outstanding professors
Jasmine Walsh, associate vice president of human resources, and Susan Spence Wach, vice-provost of planning and analytics, presented an overview of how the university is progressing with regards to two priorities in its Strategic Direction: Strategic Priority 2.2 (attract and retain outstanding professors) and Strategic Priority 5.1 (develop a human resources strategy that allows us to attract, support, and reward the best faculty and staff).
There are three key planks to the university’s work in this area. One element of that work involves an examination, renewal and then sharing of best practices for academic leaders and those involved in the faculty recruitment processes across the university. Dal will also develop specific recruitment and retention processes and goals that serve to support both teaching and research excellence.
Learn more about the Dalhousie Senate at its website. Minutes for past Senate meetings are available on DalSpace. Minutes for this meeting will be posted once approved by Senate at its subsequent meeting.
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