Senate Highlights ‑ October 23, 2017

- November 15, 2017

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.

New Senate membership composition approved

The Senate approved a proposal to modify its membership, as recommended by its Planning and Governance Committee.

“This is a motion that seeks to diversify and make Senate a more inclusive body,” said Chair Kevin Hewitt, introducing the motion.

The changes include:

  • Four additional student seats.
  • A designated seat for a faculty member selected by the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus.
  • A designated seat for a faculty member selected by the Indigenous Council.
  • Two designated seats for Senators at Large, to encourage representation for members of the university community who currently have no voice at Senate and provide flexibility in the choice of the member profile.
  • Ex-officio seats for three administrative positions whose responsibilities intersect with Senate business: the Vice-Provost Student Affairs; the University Advisor & Assistant Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion; and the Associate Vice-President Academic.

As well, to ensure faculty constitute a two-thirds majority of all Senators (a motion approved by Senate in April 2016), the number of elected senators from academic units will be increased by 7 to 58.

Pending approval by the Board of Governors, the new composition of Senate starting next year (2018-19) will be 65 faculty (67%) 1 King’s representative (1%), 20 ex-officio administrators (21%) and 11 students (11%), for a total of 97 Senators.

The origin of the changes stems back to a proposal from student Senators to increase the number of students on Senate. Recognizing that the original student proposal of 22 seats would have (by virtue of the 2/3rds faculty stipulation) required a dramatically enlarged Senate, a compromise was reached to increase the number of student representatives to 11. Meanwhile, the new designated seats are designed to push Senate’s membership closer to the full labour market availability (LMA) numbers for university professors.

Situation involving Code of Student Conduct

Vice-Provost Student Affairs Arig al Shaibah spoke to Senate about a complaint under the Code of Student Conduct by one student against another that had generated public and external interest. Dr. al Shaibah’s read her statement from that afternoon (archived here) and took questions from Senators.

The Code of Conduct complaint in question was withdrawn on Wednesday, October 25. (Dr. al Shaibah’s statement can be read here.) Senators were provided an opportunity to comment of the events of the past several weeks. Senator Graham and others made a special plea to respect freedom of expression on campus and seeking to understand the current issues in relation to past cases. Subsequently, Senate has committed to support a review of the Code of Student Conduct.

For more on this story, read “Moving forward to foster respect, inclusion and community” (October 30).

Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute approved

Senate approved the proposal from the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute for its approval as a university institute.

Incorporated in 2009 from the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program, the institute was created to foster a more powerful, productive collaborative cancer research environment throughout Atlantic Canada. It provides a common forum for researchers to share ideas and forge new collaboration. It’s also entry point for members of the public who want to learn more about cancer research in the region, for those seeking training and careers in cancer research, and those interested in supporting cancer research.

Currently the institute has 289 members from across Atlantic Canada, including 91 faculty members at Dalhousie. Its namesake, Beatrice Hunter, bequeathed $12.5 million to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation in 1999 in memory of her parents, Dr. Owen and Mrs. Pearle Cameron. Placed in the Cameron Endowment Fund, it generates approximately $500,000 per year for cancer research in Dal’s Faculty of Medicine.

Presentation from St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College principal

Nigel Scott, principal of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, is visiting Halifax and its post-secondary institutions, and was invited by Senate Chair Kevin Hewitt to address Senate. The College, which has an existing relationship with Dal’s Faculty of Agriculture, is a relatively young college with just over 2,000 students and four divisions: arts, science and general studies; nursing education, teacher education; and technical and vocational education.

“I am looking forward to speaking with many of you over the next two weeks as we look to establish and deepen, in some cases, our relationship with Dalhousie and other institutions in Halifax,” said Principal Scott, citing opportunities for collaboration in distance learning, student/faculty exchange and other areas.

Steps to make diversity and inclusion a reality

This meeting’s presentation on diversity/inclusion was led by Howard Ramos, professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. His presentation — “Racialization and Repression in Canadian Universities” — was based on research he conducted in collaboration with colleagues at other Canadian post-secondary institutions about the representation of women and racialized individuals among the professoriate in Canada. The research found that while the representation of women has improved, the representation of minority faculty worsened in the period from 1991-2006. Dr. Ramos also presented data on self-reported publications and grants and opinions towards elements of hiring, tenure and promotion gathered from a survey of eight Canadian Universities.  The survey found skepticism among racialized faculty about diversity efforts. He hopes the national data helps spark conversations here at Dal about how departments/faculties can better support diversity in their units.

Learn more about the Dalhousie Senate at its website. Minutes for past Senate meetings are available on DalSpace. Minutes for these meetings will be posted once approved by Senate.


All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus