This blog reflects my impressions from the Carleton University Senate meetings. These notes are exclusively from the OPEN SESSIONS of senate and are simply meant as my synopsis and analysis of matters that are already public. This blog is not meant as a substitute for the official minutes of the proceedings, which are superbly compiled by all both members of the senate staff. This blog is merely an unofficial contemporaneous synopsis of the meetings. I welcome your feedback.
You may also be interested in my blog of the Carleton Board of Governors open meetings (http://carletonbogblog.wordpress.com/).
_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
At the 25 October 2013 meeting of Carleton’s senate, the provost cryptically mentioned that some programs had been provided with financial incentives for attracting new graduate students. I had never heard of such incentives and was curious why these incentives were only for some programs. The provost responded that Carleton has created “ELBA-like incentives” (his words) for coursework-only masters programs in the faculties of business and engineering, i.e. M.B.A. and M.Eng. Up to this point, ELBA was confined to undergraduate programs. As I noted in my 8 October 2013 Board of Governors blog, I find ELBA to be problematic. Given that only two of our five faculties have this new ELBA-like graduate program, maybe the faculties of engineering and business are reaping a reward, although that means that science, public affairs, and arts & social sciences are probably being penalized. Providing financial incentives for coursework-only graduate programs signals to Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU; http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca) that Carleton is not serious about being a research-intensive university. To me, that seems like a grave short-sighted policy gaffe.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Curriculum, Admissions and Studies Policy mentioned that their committee would be putting out proposed changes to the university’s academic integrity policy in or around November 2013, and that senate would get a chance to comment and approve these changes in spring 2014. No other details were provided.
Paid registration in Carleton on-line courses (“CUOL”) has increased by 40% in the past 3-4 years. This is a big money-maker for the university: lots of tuition dollars with almost no personnel costs. Too bad the quality control seems deplorable. Having instructors often doing little more than answering e-mails does not constitute engagement nor active learning. There is also a rumour that in a disproportionate number of our on-line courses, instructors do not change the exam questions from year-to-year (justified as ‘academic freedom’). Unchanging exams provide an advantage to wealthier students, who can afford to purchase exams on the black market. This rumour of a disproportionate number of unchanging exams in on-line courses could easily be verified by querying the final exam office.
The university president apologized in advance for a probable new residence building displacing the newly installed community garden. The university has promised to pay for the entire cost of relocating the community garden. There were also questions about re-naming a relocated garden because an Elder conducted a ceremony naming the recently opened garden. One thing that makes this exercise curious is that there is also an effort afoot to install an Aboriginal garden between the biology buildings and the river. But this Aboriginal garden would be in a fenced and locked area that the public and most students could not access. Several years ago, a few of us had a tentative commitment from Carleton’s Facilities Management & Planning staff to replace the dreadful non-native vegetation around some of the building on campus with native plants. The university reneged on that native plant commitment, so anything that goes towards grass-roots gardening on campus seems like an improvement to me, at least if the plants and the patches of land are accessible.
There was a brief discussion about the senate budget, which is not under purview of the senate. Someone raised the question of a large senate photocopy budget. The clerk of senate replied that files relating to medals and files for the now defunct Senate Tenure Appeals Committee were almost all paper files, not electronic.
This senate meeting ended after only an hour-and-a-quarter. This is the shortest that I have ever seen, but also one of the most boring because nobody was raising controversial matters.