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.
Senate Policy for Faculty Reviews of Academic Programs
Adam Donaldson, associate dean in Faculty of Graduate Studies, and Courtney Sutton, academic quality assurance manager in the Provost’s Office, presented the Senate Policy for Faculty Reviews of Academic Programs for discussion. The policy aims to ensure reviews of all academic programs happen on a "cyclical basis," that they are consistent with the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission’s (MPHEC) Quality Assurance Framework, and that they are carried out in alignment with "overarching minimum expectations.” Sutton said the policy, created with input from a wide range of groups across the university (including Deans' Council, Office of the Provost, Senate Officers, Faculty Councils, etc.), will add some cohesiveness and procedural clarity to practices already well underway in departments and help “joining of the dots across longer term goals at Dalhousie.”
Dr. Donaldson said the policy, updated in mid-October by the Senate Academic Programs and Research Committee, also strengthens language around the culture of respect and inclusivity. Units under review are now directed to explicitly indicate content specific to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Other updates will help streamline reporting requirements for programs already subject to accreditation and increaseaccessibility for deans and designates to information compiled by Dal Analytics.
Senate Honorary Degree Committee Terms of Reference – Revocation provisions
Dal took its first step to formalize procedures for the revocation of Honorary Degrees when Senate approved a motion to amend the terms of reference of the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee that clears the way to develop criteria and process for rescinding honorary degrees. Dr. Hewitt, who presented the motion, said that once the criteria and procedures are decided upon, they will then be presented to Senate at a later date.
Steps to make diversity and inclusion a reality
Faculty of Law professor Naiomi Metallic, the Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy and an alumna of the Indigenous Blacks and Mi’kmaq (IB&M) Initiative at Dal, spoke about ongoing efforts in the Schulich School of Law to develop immersive Indigenous curriculum. Prof. Metallic joined the law school’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) in 2016 and has been working to create change with the TRC’s Calls to Action in mind.
She led the development of an intensive mandatory course in Aboriginal Indigenous law in the first year program, incorporating field trips to different Mi’kmaq communities and urban Indigenous spaces, such as the Friendship Centre in Halifax, as a way to get students acquainted with different aspects of Mi’kmaq culture and communities. An upper-year mandatory course is also in the works. In addition, the Faculty has also been trying to encourage and provide resources for colleagues to feel more comfortable teaching Indigenous topics in their materials.
“Most people are open and willing to do this work, but they just don’t know where to start. They just don’t know where to go for these resources. People need and want resources, support and guidance,”
Tenure stream appointments in clinical departments (Faculty of Medicine)
Senate approved a motion to reintroduce tenure-stream appointments in clinical departments in the Faculty of Medicine. Kevin Hewitt, chair of Dalhousie Senate and the Senate Planning and Governance Committee, and Darrell White, senior associate dean in the Faculty of Medicine, presented the motion to Senate. Within the Faculty, there are six Science departments composed of PhD scientists who are Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) members and 16 clinical departments made up predominantly of MD clinicians and a smaller number of PhD members.
Prior to 2013, physicians and PhD scientists in the Faculty’s six Science departments and 16 clinical departments had different promotion pathways — namely, physicians did not have tenure options but PhDs in clinical departments did. A non-tenure process called “continuing appointment with annual academic career development” was adopted for all in 2013. While that process worked well for physician members, Dr. White says, many PhD members noted that they preferred a tenure stream. As a result, many clinical departments were in favour of reintroducing tenure process because of perceived difficulties with recruitment and retention. Senate’s approval to reintroduce the tenure process for PhD members in clinical departments means it now aligns with the process for DFA faculty, which follows the process in the Faculty of Medicine’s basic Science departments.
Lloyd Fraser Award for Outstanding Senate Leadership
Senate awarded Faculty of Medicine professor and former Dalhousie Senator Francoise Baylis the first Lloyd Fraser Award in recognition for her work with the university governing body. A bioethicist, Dr. Baylis’s work straddles the intersection between applied ethics, health policy and practice across a range of issues linked to women’s health and assistive reproductive technology. During her term as senator from 2013 to 2017, she was frequently called upon by the university community and other senators to bring voice to their concerns. Dr. Hewitt, in presenting the award, noted that she organized Senators to become more proactive in the issues being presented at Senate. “In recognition of her articulate and effective expression of the needs of the university community, Senate officers wholly endorse the award of the first Lloyd Fraser award for Outstanding Senate Leadership to Dr. Francoise Baylis,” he said.
Dr. Chris Moore, acting provost and vice president, student affairs, touched on a number of topics and issues that have arisen during his three-month term, which ended October 31. (Dr. Teri Balser took over in the role Nov. 1.) He mentioned Dal’s 1.5 per cent rise in student enrolment this year, a successful Open House event that drew the largest number of registrants ever, and that 113 emergency bursaries worth a total of $56,500 have been handed out as part of the recently launched microbursary program. He also congratulated the Faculty of Agriculture on the launch of its new PhD program and of its Bicentennial Botanical Garden, and commended work done on the Truro campus in recovering from the devastating fire in the Cox Institute. He also noted that the university’s Indigenous Strategy Steering Committee is expected to complete its report sometime in November.
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