Monthly Archives: April 2017

Ontario funding formula for universities

The university president and vice-presidents discussed the new provincial funding formula and the inextricably tied strategic mandate agreements, albeit with an extremely narrow focus, namely that there will only be one possible way for universities to garner additional provincial funds. They claimed that paid co-op like experiential learning will be the only way to get additional revenues from the province, with the amount of additional monies being proportional to the number of students enrolled in such programs. The president and vice-presidents stated that only paid experiential learning will qualify, which excludes things like field courses, engineering capstone courses, and volunteering with the Science Student Success Centre. Furthermore, in order to count, the experiential learning must appear explicitly in program and course descriptions. The upper administration seemed to be trawling for ideas for things that might count for such provincial funding. The vice-president for students and enrolment (but, conspicuously, not the dean of graduate studies) suggested that TA and RA opportunities might count as paid experiential learning. This would help Carleton, but not as much as for research-intensive universities, especially given all the coursework-only graduate programs that Carleton has recently instituted and that Carleton now promotes faculty to full professor even if they conduct no research. Someone suggested that on-campus employment could count as being sufficiently akin to co-op to count in the province’s eyes, but I have my doubts. The president kept pushing mini co-op programs, but I am not sure what those are – they remind me of other dubiously successful enterprises, such as light beer. Finally, I asked how much extra money could Carleton possibly receive if we have lots of students in paid experiential learning. Were we trying to spend millions of dollars on experiential learning in order to receive an additional $1,000 of revenue from the province or was it more like $100,000,000 per year? The president and vice-president said that they had absolutely no idea how much additional revenue the province was dangling, which was a shocking revelation.

I was surprised that Carleton’s upper administration did not mention whether the province was incentivizing Indigenization. Maybe the province is leaving Indigenization to the federal government or maybe Carleton simply is not ready to participate in Indigenization and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action regarding education. Provincially, this is a touchy subject given the status of two of the three northern universities in Ontario. Lakehead is probably doing okay, but Laurentian is closing satellite campuses in the far north (Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Moose Factory) due to financial exigencies and Nippising has had huge financial struggles. Regardless, it was curious that Carleton does not believe making an investment in Indigenization is worthwhile vis-à-vis our upcoming strategic mandate agreement (SMA) or that Carleton will not be financially rewarded by the provincial government for such Indigenization efforts.

Gender bias in faculty hires

The provost kindly presented data on sex/gender bias in faculty hires, broken down by subject areas and by faculty rank. Because his presentation was in open session, I am re-posting his slides here. Overall, Carleton is doing worse with sex/gender equity than other provincial universities, although seemingly not drastically worse. On a percentage basis, Carleton hires fewer tenure-track female faculty than there are earned PhDs by female candidates. The provost stated that our goal was to get closer to those two averages, of about 39% female tenure-track faculty. However, a senator suggested that our goal should be to lead in this regard and not simply aim for mediocrity in achieving the average of only 39% female faculty. The one place where Carleton does better than the 39% average is in hiring female contract instructors. In general, female faculty should not be that precarious. Our provost blamed some of the gender equity problems on idiosyncrasies in our programs. For example, he stated that Carleton would almost certainly have more female engineering faculty members if we had a chemical engineering program. This may be true, but then why aren’t we asking to start a chemical engineering program in our past or upcoming strategic mandate agreement, especially given that four of Carleton’s past five vice-presidents of research have been engineers?

I asked about Carleton policies to increase numbers of female tenure-track faculty members. The provost provided a few possibilities. First, he stated that all search committees must have at least one female and one male member, even if this means having the search committee contain individuals from outside of the hiring unit. It is interesting that we can legally impose a sex/gender quota on hiring committees, but supposedly cannot impose a sex/gender quota on actual hiring. The provost mentioned that there have been a few salary compensation cases raised each year, most of which were claiming sex/gender bias in salaries, but sample sizes are small. The provost also suggested breaking down silos in hiring by having searches be interdisciplinary and across units. I am not sure how that will increase number of female faculty, but it would take local control over hiring decisions away from departments. The provost suggested that policies for improving sex/gender equity could be included in the soon-to-be-rewritten strategic integrated plan. That is a great idea, but the devil is in the details.

Overall, this discussion at senate was a good and important consciousness-raising (CR) exercise, almost making us collectively look like second-wave feminists. But there is still much work to be done. One suggestion was to report back with more data on what percentage of expenditures for each faculty rank go to each sex/gender. For instance, of the total of full professor salaries, what percentage is earned by female faculty?

Finally, I want to add three caveats. First, this entire conversation assumed a sex/gender binary, which is unrealistic. Second, this conversation did not discuss any other aspects of diversity or lack thereof, such as race, disability, intersectionality, etc. Third, thanks to the provost (and president) for compiling and presenting Carleton’s sex/gender hiring data, and thanks to faculty colleagues on senate for asking great questions.

Proxy voting

The clerk of senate announced a new system with “red cards” – akin to being at a soccer match – for ex officio senators who are standing-in for someone else, such as an associate dean voting on behalf of an absent dean at senate. The logic given was that deans and vice-presidents represent offices, so always need a vote at senate. A faculty senator asked why cannot all senators have someone sit-in for them and vote with proxy red cards. Faculty senators represent their faculties, which will be absent a vote if a senator cannot attend on a given day. The clerk of senate said that the senate academic governance committee would be considering this policy change at an upcoming meeting. That seems fair, although I am not holding my breath that such a change will occur.

Senate Financial Review Committee

For several years, there has been a refusal by those in power to allow senate’s Financial Review Committee to do its work. This became even more poignant after the vice-president finance announced at the 23 March 2017 open session of the Board of Governors that Carleton is running a large surplus, then asking the board chair what should be done with the surplus. This is a refreshing change from the previous vice-president finance who insisted on always running a balanced budget, which meant squirreling away surpluses into unrestricted reserve funds. The clerk of senate announced that the terms of reference for the financial review committee will be addressed at the 28 April 2017 open session of senate. I hope that this committee’s responsibilities are enhanced, not eviscerated.

Closing Remarks

As always, this blog posting reflects my opinions and reporting of events at the open session of senate. This posting is not meant as a proxy for the official minutes of the meeting. I welcome your feedback.