Senate Highlights ‑ March 12, 2018

- March 21, 2018

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.

Appointment of Senate faculty representative on Board of Governors

Senate appointed Carolan McLarney (Faculty of Management) as a Senate faculty representative on the university’s Board of Governors for a term commencing July 2018 and continuing through June 2021.

Dr. McLarney, a full professor in the Rowe School of Business, has been at Dalhousie since 1999, and has teaching and research interests in governance structures. She previously served as vice-chair (academic programs) of Senate from 2009-13 and was a member of several committees including the Academic Programs and Research Committee, Senate Planning and Governance Committee, Honorary Degrees Committee, and Nominating Committee.

Dr. McLarney joins Elaine Gibson (Schulich School of Law) as one of two elected faculty representatives on the Board of Governors, in addition to the Chair of Senate, who is also a member.

Interim report to Senate on engagement with Board of Governors re: Report on Fossil Fuel Divestment

Mike Smit (School of Information Management) presented an interim report to Senate on behalf of an ad hoc working group of Senate, established in March 2016 following the Ad Hoc Committee of Senate Report on Fossil Fuel Divestment.

The working group, which consists of Dr. Smit, Senate Chair Kevin Hewitt and four additional members (Iraj Fooladi, Management; Meinhard Doelle, Law; student Jeremy Banks, Architecture & Planning [student]; Alex Ayton; Engineering [student]), was tasked to “pursue the recommendations in the report of the ad hoc committee of Senate on Fossil Fuel Divestment through engagement with the Board of Governors with the intention of reviewing institutional policy on ethical investment and other strategic initiatives to address climate change and report back to Senate.”

The working group met with members of the Board, President Florizone and other senior administrators over the past two years, pursuing two avenues of inquiry: ongoing efforts to address climate change institutionally, and investment decisions in the context of the Senate report recommendations. In the former, the group concluded Dal’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint are succeeding, and invited Rochelle Owen (Office of Sustainability) to share highlights with Senate, which she did together with the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability last year.

With regards to investments, after several meetings with the vice-president finance and administration and the treasurer, the working group proposed changes to the university’s investment policy modelled on existing ESG (Environmental, Social and Government) principles, seeking to acquire data and include climate-change related factors in assessing investment opportunities within the pooled funds that Dalhousie’s fund managers oversee. The vice-president finance and administration is planning to recommend to the Investment Committee that the working group be invited to present these proposed policy changes to them.

Draft Budget Advisory Committee report

Provost Carolyn Watters, chair of the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), presented the committee’s recommendations for the 2018-19 operating budget. The presentation was similar to the one Dr. Watters has been using in her campus budget sessions, highlighting the university’s revenue sources and mix of expenses, as well as proposed recommendations to balance the budget in light of these.

For the upcoming year, Dalhousie’s government grant is set to increase by $2.1 million, but expenses — driven largely by compensation for faculty and staff — is set to increase by $16.5 million. To balance the budget, the BAC is recommending a 3% tuition increase to all programs and the international differential fee, and a 1.5% budget reduction to faculties/units after their budgets are adjusted for the compensation increases.  

Senators asked questions about the need for increased tuition fees, intersection with the work of the Board’s Ad Hoc Financial Planning Committee, the allocation of funds to support international students, and investments in accessibility, among other topics.

For more on the budget recommendations, read the recent Dal News story.

Steps to make diversity and inclusion a reality

Jennifer Stamp of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience presented on “Enhancing Access with Lecture Recording: Reaching More Students More Often.” Once an admitted skeptic of the value of recording her lectures for students, she detailed the feedback she received after trialing it as a pilot program. Among the many benefits students saw in the practice, one of the largest was in helping students for whom English is their second language, as they could now re-watch the lectures to get the most out of the material.

“It’s not appropriate for all classes, but if what you’re doing is a traditional lecture… then I strongly urge you to consider doing this,” Dr. Stamp told senators.

Farewell to Andrea Power

Senate Chair Kevin Hewitt paid tribute to Andrea Power, associate secretary of Senate and manager, Senate operations, who is leaving Dalhousie to take on a new position with the University of Calgary. This was her final Senate meeting; Sundari Pashupathi will take over her responsibilities.

“Thank you, faculty, students, staff, administrators, everyone who works hard for this institution,” said Power, who was presented with several gifts of appreciation. “I’ve been here for 15 years, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with everyone.”

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.


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