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Monthly Archives: October 2014

The university president mentioned that Carleton’s director of Equity Services, Linda Capperauld, declined to present information at Senate today regarding hiring diversity (gender, minorities) because the director is retiring in November 2014. The president promised that the report from the staff of equity services on this matter will be presented to Senate in November 2014 or January 2015, depending on when the report is ready. This will be an important discussion for Senate both in absolute and relative terms. In relative terms, Carleton may be doing worse than most other Canadian universities at hiring women for faculty positions. In absolute terms, it will be important for Carleton to minimally meet the Lortie Commission’s 40/40 rule, which means that we aim for at least 40% of our faculty members being female and at least 40% being male (assuming a gender binary, which does not exist).

Senate passed a change to the Academic Governance of the University (AGU) document to increase the size of Senate by adding two contract instructors. The approved motion states (with my emphasis added), “A Contract Instructor is an employee hired to teach a course approved for credit by Senate, excluding retired academic staff and professional librarians who, prior to the retirement, had an academic position at Carleton University.” This seems to allow tenured faculty members who teach during summer to serve in those two new seats. However, the Clerk of Senate said that such tenured faculty members are ‘contracted’ to teach in summer, not ‘hired’ to teach in summer, hence would be excluded from these two new senate seats. To me, this defies commonsense use of the terms ‘hired’ and ‘contracted’. The motion also makes a distinction between ‘academic staff’ and ‘academic position’ that is an anathema to me. I also do not understand why the motion needed to mention ‘retired’ people. Why not just exclude all current and retired academic staff from these two new senate seats. For these reasons, I recommend that the Board of Governors reject this motion when it comes before them on 2 December 2014. And I say this despite fully agreeing with the intent of the motion, even if its technical details apparently remain flawed.

The academic colleague, Jeff Smith, reported that Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and Council of Ontario Universities (COU) are tentatively discussing a possible joint pension plan that amalgamates those of all universities across the province. This is so far just talk. I am also not sure whether this is a good idea. For example, some pension plans, such as Carleton’s, invest in big tobacco, whereas other universities might choose to divest of such industries. Such divestment/investment choices will be much harder to make with a single provincial university pension fund.

The academic colleague reported that even though the province is in an era (error?) of differentiation, many colleges across the province are pushing four-year degree programs, which MTCU seems to be tacitly accepting. This may be the right thing to do, but is the antithesis of differentiation. As Michael Franti said, “Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury”, a luxury that the province cannot really afford.

The academic colleague mentioned that provincial demographics show that the number of 18-21 years olds will not stabilize (i.e. stop decreasing) until 2021. This makes growth of universities very difficult, especially with current funding formula. Carleton’s president mentioned that other provinces have similar demographics, although BC may be growing/growing sooner than the rest of the country.

The minutes of the 26 September 2014 Senate meeting began with a header acknowledging that Carleton is on traditional (unceded) Algonquin territory. However, this acknowledgment never occurred verbally at the September meeting nor at today’s meeting. This is ironic given how important oral traditions are with Algonquin and other First Nations peoples. In the future, I will vote against approval of minutes that include things that did not transpire at the meeting.

Today’s meeting ended after only 45 minutes, and that included both open and closed sessions. At first I thought that this was because there was nothing of substance to discuss. But, in retrospect, the September and October 2014 meetings of Senate were both very short and also were the first Senate meetings in which the provost said little or nothing. I cannot distinguish correlation from causation, but nevertheless congratulate the provost on his newfound restraint or reticence.

 

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