This week, the Carleton University president, who is also chair of the university senate, had the senate vote to approve an honourary degree recipient without any opportunity for debate. This is not only a clear breach of shared collegial governance, but also a breach of parliamentary procedure. A point of order appealing this egregious lack of meaningful consultation was dismissed by the chair. I am therefore blogging about this matter to highlight the breakdown of due process that increasingly pervades Carleton University governance and am doing so before the procedurally flawed honourary degree is conferred on Friday 29 January 2016. As my colleague Patrizia Gentile assiduously remarked, “Due process is not an annoying step – it is imperative if we are going to proceed as a functioning institution.”

The call for a vote on the nominee for an honourary degree was sent to all senators via e-mail on Friday 22 January 2016 at 3:40 pm (i.e. start of the weekend), with a request to vote before 4:30 pm on Monday 25 January 2016. The e-mail calling for a vote was not marked confidential or closed. I am therefore posting a copy of that e-mail here, but redacting the name of the honourary degree recipient and the link to a very brief biography in order to save the nominee from embarrassment. This nominee had never been discussed at regular meetings of senate nor had been discussed at the special meeting of senate on 15 December 2015. On 22 January 2016, I immediately protested this lack of debate in an e-mail to the clerk of senate, university president (who is chair of senate), and chair of the honourary degrees committee, but heard no replies. Therefore on 26 January 2016, I e-mailed the secretary of senate with a point of order, appealing the non-decision by the chair of senate, requesting that all members of senate vote on whether a motion that did not allow for debate was a breach of the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, which Carleton’s senate supposedly adheres to. The secretary of senate forwarded my point of order to the university president and clerk of senate, to which all senators received the president’s reply (link here), a reply that was also not designated as closed or confidential.

The president’s reply to all senators on Wednesday 27 January 2016 stated that there is no requirement for senate to debate motions prior to voting. The university president/chair of senate wrote (with emphasis in the original).

There is no rule in any of the documents governing Senate that states that there must be debate prior to a vote. Senate has previously approved matters arising by email. Motions are often passed at Senate without debate.

While there is usually no debate with procedural motions, this should not be the case for substantive matters. Sometimes senate voluntarily skips debate because there is nothing to discuss, but that is different from not being provided the opportunity to debate main motions. My protest was never about voting via e-mail. My protest was solely about lack of debate, which, while not quite as satisfactory, can occur via e-mail. The university president’s equating of my point of order with whether to award someone an honourary degree (vis-à-vis both motions supposedly having no required debate) is downright insulting because senate rules do, in fact, appear to require debate on the motion to approve someone for an honourary degree. The Annex to Senate Rules of Order – Motions in Order at a Senate Meeting, states in relevant part:

I. Main Motions

Most of these motions, [sic] will be concerned with the substantive work of Senate and hence are called main motions. Once a main motion has been introduced, it becomes the focus of attention; it must be dealt with in some way before another main motion is introduced.

There are also a number of procedural motions that can be introduced during the debate on a main motion.

The motion regarding the honourary degree nominee seemed to be a main motion and hence the above senate rule implies that there will be a debate. The university president and the clerk of senate also failed to abide by the ten-day notice of motion requirement, which is memorialized in the Senate Rules of Order, article 6.

In all fairness, I suspect the person nominated is a decent person for an honourary degree. But senate needs to meaningfully debate this. Such a debate could occur electronically, but this did not occur. I also must question why the committee who nominates honourary degree recipients was caught so flat-footed. What is urgent about this matter? Did the university president simply suggest this nominee at the last second? Should senate have to suffer for such tardiness? Why can the honourary degree not be conferred later?

In general, is Carleton University simply handing out many honourary degrees as political or fund-raising favours? The current university president has certainly overseen the awarding of many more honourary degrees per annum than her predecessors. Sometimes this is good, especially when the Carleton community gets to hear enlightening talks and speak one-on-one with luminaries. I still treasure meeting with and listening to Muhammad Yunus, for which I thank President Roseann Runte, Dean Jerry Tomberlin, and everyone else instrumental in bringing him to campus. Carleton also has given honourary degrees to people who have simply given the university large donations. There is much to be debated here. Too bad the university body that approves degrees, the university senate, never was granted the opportunity to collegially debate the person who is being awarded an honourary degree on the afternoon of 29 January 2016.

The current situation of not allowing debate at the highest levels of university governance seems utterly autocratic and embarrassing, especially when the opportunity for such debate appears to be codified.

Almost two years ago, I posted a blog (here) complaining that Carleton University repeatedly and knowingly breaches confidentiality of its students by and through its final exam signing sheets. Students at regularly scheduled final exams are required to write their name, signature, and last four digits of their Carleton identification number on this signing sheet. See the latest version of the signing sheet, below. The problem is that the 30th student gets to see the names of the prior 29 students who signed the sheet, even though the previous 29 students did not give their voluntary consent to have their identities disclosed to their peers. Students seem to be coerced into disclosing their own identities to other students in the class. Divulging identities of students seems to constitute a prima facie FIPPA violation (Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act). While I am not a lawyer, section 42 of that law seems to preclude use of Carleton’s final exam signing sheet with more than one name on it. Curiously, Carleton has a final exam signing sheet for use by just a single student, a form that is seemingly only used by the McIntyre Exam Centre.

In my decade at Carleton, there have only been two very minor improvements to this personal privacy travesty. First, the final exam signing sheet now only requires the last four digits of the Carleton identification number, not the remaining digits. Second, instructors can opt out of use of this thirty-signature form. Unfortunately and perversely, students cannot opt out of signing this form. While Carleton University has been well aware of this breach of privacy of virtually all of its roughly 25,000 undergraduate students, Carleton has effectively done nothing to remedy the problem, even though a fix would be easy, such as purchasing optical scanners to read student identification cards. Scanning student identification cards may also be possible via an inexpensive cellphone app (maybe this app, but I have no expertise in such matters). Given the huge sums of money that the university expends on self-promotion (e.g. printing multiple twenty-foot tall portraits of almost famous people associated with the university), I hope Carleton could throw a few dollars at this genuine privacy problem. And I really hope that Carleton is proactive about this remedy and – god forbid – not simply wait to react to a possible class action lawsuit.

Signing sheet (2015).jpg






The open session of Senate was dominated by two topics, Global Academy and Culture Works, neither of which are parts of the core of the university. Neither venture seems to give back, other than possibly financially, to the community that founded Carleton.

The presentation on Global Academy was painfully long. It should have taken 20-seconds to tell Senate that Global Academy was a not-for-credit money-making arm of the university that will run professional development and continuing education programs on contracts. However, this explanation dragged on for an interminable 20-minutes. Many members of Senate fell asleep, including the chair of the meeting, before the director of Global Academy finally was given a chance to speak for a few minutes. There were however a few interesting tidbits. First, the director of Global Academy was chosen by fiat of the provost. There was no search committee. Second, the only contract that Global Academy currently has is with the Chinese government. Global Academy will be running summer institutes in 2016 for thirty to forty Chinese administrators, possibly including ESL (English as a second language) training. There will also be a cultural course, something supposedly akin to a “Canada 101” course that will be a blended course, online plus two-weeks at Carleton in August 2016. This is very reminiscent of Carleton’s Confucius Institute. Collectively all the Confucius Institutes have been denounced by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). Could Global Academy simply be a way for Carleton to sidestep the CAUT denouncement? Third, Global Academy is a two-year pilot program. However, the administration would not answer how they plan on evaluating the program at the end of the two-years. Will Global Academy be placed in Carleton’s ancillary budget, much as the gym, bookstore, graphics, etc., where future of the operation is entirely dependent on profit? Fourth, Carleton administration made a conscious decision to brand Global Academy as separate from the rest of the university. They are the first unit at Carleton authorized to use their own logo, which is noteworthy given tight control over branding, such as all other units needing to use the same webpage formats and business card designs. Furthermore, the business card for this new venture has ‘Global Academy’ in large print above and ‘Carleton University’ in small print below. This reminds me of two old adages: “The tail wagging the dog” and “The large print giveth and the small print taketh away”. I certain hope only the latter quote from Tom Waits is true and that Carleton University does not just become an imprimatur for the Chinese government.

The administration brought to Senate a motion to waive a requirement that Culture Works – a for-profit private ESL corporation that has offices on campus – can waive an English language testing requirement before their students are automatically admitted to Carleton. If waived, then successful completion of the Culture Works program would grant students automatic admission to Carleton. This language testing requirement was one of the few concessions that Senate won when Culture Works was first allowed on campus. Furthermore, this language test only costs Culture Works students about $150-200. The administration rationalized this change by stating that other universities that use Culture Works, such as University of Western Ontario (‘Western’), are waiving this language testing requirement. But a member of Senate then stated that Western is terminating their relationship with Culture Works. Admissions is the only hook or oversight that Senate has for influencing Culture Works. My understanding, which may be wrong, is that Culture Works will make more money by providing an easier funnel for students to gain admission to Carleton and that, with this motion, Carleton will lose autonomy over admissions. It was never adequately explained at Senate why this motion, which passed, was not a form of corporate welfare.

The relatively good news at the Senate meeting was the enrollment numbers for 1 November 2015, which is the provincial cutoff date for calculating funding. Science, Engineering, and Business continue to grow enrolments at higher than expected rates. Our arts programs are doing better than last year, but on the shoulders of Public Affairs, whose enrolments are back up to expected levels. I am sorry to report that Arts and Social Science enrolments are still suffering, although hear that this is the case across the country.

While highly unusual, there was no call from the chair of Senate for a report on the Board of Governors meeting that occurred three days before and no corresponding item on the agenda. I am not sure whether this omission was intentional, but it was conspicuous and ironic given all the subsequent press coverage of Carleton’s Board of Governors supposedly silencing academic freedom and free speech (see here).

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.

In The Guardian on 26 March 2015, Trevor Timm published an article titled “It’s OK to leak government secrets – as long as it benefits politicians”. Timm discussed leaks by former general David Petraeus, former general James ‘Hoss’ Cartwright, and several members of Hillary Clinton’s entourage at the Department of State, all of which were leaks made with impunity, in contrast to the many prosecutions of low-level leakers by the Obama administration, such as that of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling and former army officer Chelsea Manning. In The Guardian, Timm says:

When it comes to leaks, the powerful play by different rules than everyone else – despite the fact that they’ve violated the same law they’ve accused so many other leakers of breaking.

This is one way to interpret the tack Carleton University’s provost, Peter Ricketts, took with regards to gender inequity data. Peter Ricketts seems to consider himself a powerful politician at Carleton University. One could claim that Peter Ricketts officially leaked confidential gender inequity data at the open session of university Senate on 27 February 2015, leaked that confidential data again via e-mail that was not marked confidential on 6 March 2015, and then on 17 March 2015 tried to retroactively label that data confidential. See my 27 February and 17 March 2015 Senate blog postings for details. As I suggested on 17 March 2015, the other way to interpret Peter Ricketts’ actions is that the gender inequity data he presented and later e-mailed were never confidential, but only labeled confidential ex post to save him from embarrassment. Either way, Peter Ricketts owes Carleton University and its Senate an apology.

Undisputed Facts

On 28 August 2014, I posed a question regarding gender equity of academic hires for senate question period (see here for the exact question). This question was not addressed in any form at senate until 27 February 2015. Senate convened just after 2 pm on 27 February 2015 and almost immediately went into closed session, at which point at least a half-dozen people were asked to leave the room. Once closed session finished, those people returned to the senate room for open session. One of the first orders of business at the open session, which the newly readmitted guests heard, was Carleton University’s provost, Peter Ricketts, providing a presentation on gender equity of the university’s academic staff. His presentation included eighteen slides. On 2 March 2015, I posted an in-depth blog posting (here) about the provost’s gender equity presentation. On 6 March 2015, members of senate were sent an electronic copy of the provost’s 18-slide presentation. The entire body of the e-mail promulgating the PDF file with his presentation read, “Dear Senators – attached please find the Provost’s presentation on ‘Academic Staff Hiring at Carleton University Gender Analysis 2009/10 – 2013/14’ from the Senate meeting of February 27, 2015.” That 6 March 2015 e-mail stated nothing about confidentiality of the attached file. Via e-mail, I immediately asked the following question of the senate office, “Are the provost’s slides on academic hiring public information? Given that they were presented at an open session of Senate, I assume they are public and can be shared, but I first really need to check.” Eleven days later, on 17 March 2015, I was informed in writing by the senate office that, “The Provost has confirmed that the presentation, as circulated, is for members of Senate only.” This 17 March 2015 response was the antithesis of confirmation of my 6 March 2015 e-mail query.


First, follow this reductio ad absurdum argument. Assume the presentation slides are confidential. If I disseminate those slides, such as by attaching them to this blog posting, then I can be fired. Using identical logic, the provost, Peter Ricketts, should be fired for presenting those slides to an open session of senate. Given that Peter Ricketts still has his job, this implies the slides cannot be confidential. The only way this argument fails is if there is an ongoing effort to fire Peter Ricketts from his position at Carleton University, but that all the administrative steps have not yet been completed. Giving the university’s administration the benefit of the doubt by assuming that most unlikely of administrative scenarios, I will therefore not further disseminate the provost’s gender equity presentation slides at this juncture.

The other reason to believe that Peter Ricketts’ slide presentation to senate on gender inequity was not confidential was that the general public, the people invited back into the room after closed session ended, were allowed to see the presentation. I even used my phone to take photos of several of the slides. If any of the presentation had been confidential, those matters could have and should have dealt with during closed session. The university president and provost can easily take senate back into closed session, but declined to do so. To show slides at an open session and then deem them confidential ex post makes a mockery of open sessions and a mockery of senate. Given that the slides were not distributed electronically for a week, the provost had ample opportunity to clean up any inadvertent confidentiality gaffes. Furthermore, this presentation was six months in preparation, in response to my formal question posed on 28 August 2014, so should have been well honed and vetted.

For the aforementioned reasons, we must assume that Peter Ricketts’ gender inequity slides at the 27 March 2015 meeting, the ones distributed electronically to members of senate a week later, were NOT confidential, but were simply embargoed to save someone from embarrassment. The question remains: Who would be embarrassed by that slide presentation? In my previous blog posting, I asserted that Carleton should incur some institutional embarrassment because of our deplorable track-record of hiring female tenure-track faculty members in science and especially engineering. I also asserted that the presentation would and should be an embarrassment to the provost in that he oversees academic hiring. Even more deplorable, the provost’s dissembling with statistics was something that we would fail our undergraduate students for doing in one of their class presentations. The provost’s presentation, if it were made public, would probably disqualify Peter Ricketts from being a provost at any college or university, including Carleton (imagine if a head-hunter got a hold of those slides). But that is a poor reason to mandate that a document shown by upper administration in open session of university senate be deemed confidential long after the fact, i.e. a poor reason for the provost to close the barn door after he deliberately let the horses out.


While the provost either willfully or negligently failed to answer my 28 August 2014 query for senate question period, at least he presented some gender equity data at the 27 February 2015 open session of senate. That is an important start regarding gender inequity, which is a sufficiently important policy issue that most students, staff, faculty, and alumni should be engaged. Now let’s share that data with the entire Carleton community, i.e. the real community at-large. Then let’s get Carleton University to actually answer the gender inequity questions that I originally posed over a half-year ago. Let’s start an important open policy discussion that revolves around data. Suppressing data, as was just done with the senate gender equity presentation, looks simply like Carleton has something to hide. In the long-run, treating data confidentiality like a yo-yo can only hurt Carleton University’s policies and reputation.

Senate was lively on Friday 27 February 2015, with the focus on gender equity/inequity of academic staff, which I discuss at length below. But first, two other important matters occurred during open session: Carleton’s plans for offering programs in Cornwall and the continuing debacle of how Senate is kept in the dark about major modifications to existing programs.

Carleton in Cornwall

The provost briefly and reluctantly mentioned that Carleton University is exploring two plans for joint programs with St. Lawrence College in Cornwall. I say ‘reluctantly’ because this would not have come up without question period. The first plan is for our environmental science program to work with the River Institute and St. Lawrence College. The provost said that this will not be in association with our Bachelor of Information Technology program, contrary to an official Carleton document that I had recently seen. The second plan is for our school of public affairs to work with St. Lawrence College and the community of Akwesasne. Given how long these discussions have been ongoing regarding Cornwall, it seems surprising that the university has not been forthcoming with Senate and the Board of Governors (see my earlier critique here). Furthermore, if any Carleton employees will eventually be working in Cornwall, I hope that the university’s administration is discussing possible impact with the relevant unions on campus and doing so in a timely and proactive manner.

Major program modifications

For a second consecutive meeting, Senate was asked to vote on an omnibus motion of well over a hundred pages with only a few days to review the documents. Furthermore, the voluminous Senate Academic Planning Committee (SAPC) documents did not contain a table of contents, as had been promised at the previous meeting of Senate. SAPC needs to do better, and Senate needs to hold them accountable. Not only were the major modifications presented without a table of contents or index, but the changes themselves reflect Carleton’s downward spiral of offering more-and-more course-work-only graduate programs, thereby making us less-and-less research-intensive.

Gender bias in academic staff hiring

The provost reported on Carleton University’s supposed improvement in hiring women for academic positions during the past four years (2009/10 thru 2013/14), but his aggregated data included not just tenure/tenure-track positions, but also temporary term positions. This is outrageous and obfuscatory, especially when the original question that motivated this presentation asked for these categories to be separated because of the suspicion that males were getting plum jobs while females were getting rotten fruit (not ‘sour grapes’, if perchance you want a really tortured metaphor). A contract instructor at Senate asked why data were not reported for contract instructors. The provost said that this was because contract instructors were not part of the original question, which is untrue. On 28 August 2014, I submitted the following question, copied here verbatim, for question period at the 26 September 2014 Senate meeting (I agreed to have the answers deferred until today’s Senate meeting):

Has there been gender equity in hiring of teachers at Carleton over the past 25 years? Could you please provide data on numbers of female versus male (1) tenured/tenure-track faculty members, (2) permanent instructors, with confirmation or on track for confirmation, and (3) contract instructors, who are only hired on temporary, short-term contracts; with this data broken down per faculty (FASS, FPA, Science, Engineering, Business)? I am asking about number of individual people teaching, not about number of courses taught nor FTEs. Could you please provide the numbers of female and male employees as of September in the following years: 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014. For each faculty once every five years, I am asking for a table that looks like:

Female Male
Tenured/tenure track
Instructor (confirmation track)
Contract Instructor

I understand that some people will be excluded from these data tables because they declined to specify gender or they self-identified as multiple or other genders. I also understand that the smallest of our faculties, the business school, was created as a separate entity only in 2001. That means I am asking for 27 tables like the one above: four tables each for 1989, 1994, and 1999 and five table each for 2004, 2009, and 2014. There should be sufficiently large numbers in each of these 27 data tables that nobody’s confidentiality is breached.

At Senate today, the provost danced around answering these questions, using data from Carleton’s Office of Institutional Research & Planning (OIRP) and data from his own office. Bruce Winer, who heads ORIP, seemed to know and explain this data beautifully, but did not speak unless occasionally specifically asked for details. By contrast, the provost seemed utterly inept. His slides were very poorly labeled and contained tiny typefaces. As mentioned above, he egregiously aggregated data. The provost used an incredible number of bait-and-switch tactics. In successive histograms, he reversed the order of bars representing females and males. He reported the annual number of hires of female academic staff per faculty, but never presented data for number of male hires or total hires, without which members of Senate could not discern whether gender inequities existed. Although the data projector was not displaying colours perfectly, anybody presenting important matters knows not to rely on colour because of the ubiquity of colour-blind people. The provost not only failed to answer my question about gender equity between permanent and term academic positions, but also failed to answer my questions about long-term trends by only covering the past four years. Several colleagues noted that they would have failed any student reporting data and statistics as poorly and seemingly disingenuously as the provost did today.

Carleton and all employers bringing in more than one million dollars per year and/or having over a hundred employees are required to report equity data to the “Federal Contractors Program” (link). Data are broken down into four categories: gender, aboriginal status, disabilities, and other visible minority status. The problem is that the Federal Contractor Program is a black hole, with lots of data going in, but no data being reported out. This is entirely consistent with the Harper government’s disregard for gender equity, let alone disregard for indigenous peoples. This also partly explains the baseline that Carleton equity services compares our hiring data with, which is the Statistics Canada proportions of females who have earned PhDs in each discipline. Ideally, Carleton should be comparing its equity data to that of other Canadian universities, data that is collected but not disseminated by the Federal Contractors Program.

It was obvious from the provost’s slides that Carleton science and engineering – especially engineering – are doing horrendously at hiring female faculty members. In fact, according to the data shown at Senate today, engineering did not hire any female faculty members or female term instructors last year. Yet, the deans of engineering and science inexplicably sat silent at Senate. The new director of equity services was present, but was also silent. My suspicion is that these administrators had been muzzled by the provost. In a perverse way, my hope is that they were muzzled. Otherwise this unified policy front indicates an even more pervasive lack of leadership, i.e. unwillingness of many in upper management to acknowledge or tackle a significant problem.

The alumni representative at Senate asked how many genders Carleton tracks. Initially, the provost said that Carleton only counts one gender (!), but eventually corrected himself. His final answer was two, female and male, which is a reactionary and anachronistic answer, albeit somewhat practical. While gender is not real, gender inequity is real. Pigeon-holing people into a gender binary is an imperfect way to quantify gender inequity, although I have also suggested a more queer-friendly approach (here).

The most important step in problem-solving is first admitting that you have a problem. Yet somehow despite the data shown at Senate, the provost said we are doing great with hiring female academic staff. Therefore let’s get the provost and deans to put money where their mouths are in two ways. First, Carleton should revamp its Enrolment-Linked Budget Allocation (ELBA) scheme, which will be needed anyway because of decreased BA enrolments (for an explanation, see here). I propose that annual faculty budget allocations be partly based on the ratio of the proportion of permanent female faculty members divided by the proportion of female PhDs in that discipline. Instead of student numbers solely driving budgets to each academic dean, hiring decisions should also drive faculty budget allocations. After all, it is the deans who hire tenure-track academic staff and negotiate their salaries. I propose that each faculty budget allocation be proportional to this ratio of observed-to-expected number of female faculty, i.e. something akin to but even simpler than chi-square statistics. If a given academic faculty/dean is hiring a higher proportion of female faculty members than there are females earning PhDs in that discipline, then reward that faculty with more money. If a faculty/dean is hiring a lower proportion of female faculty members than there are females earning PhDs in that discipline, then punish that faculty with less money. Second and even more poignantly, Carleton should make compensation packages for academic deans and the provost dependent on these ratios. That might finally get them motivated to fix a problem that some of these managers have long ignored, if not exacerbated. If management really wants merit pay, why not lead by example?

The vice chair of our Board of Governors asked the provost whether Carleton has a policy or quota on number or proportion of female academic staff hired. The provost responded that Carleton has absolutely no targets and “no affirmative action program or policy”. The provost also said that Carleton’s one gender equity constraint in hiring academic staff was to abide by the collective agreement (you’ve got to love his default posture of blaming the unions). Note that ironically or egregiously – I cannot discern which – the provost spoke of a single collective agreement, by which I assume he meant with CUASA, even though he aggregated data of permanent and term academic positions in his data presentation, who are represented by separate unions. Michael MacNeil responded that the provost was dead wrong: Carleton has an affirmative action policy covering inequalities in gender, disability, aboriginal status, or other visible minorities, titled “Employment equity in recruitment for academic appointments at Carleton University” (link). Unfortunately, this policy does not have many teeth. This policy acts as a tie-breaker if all else is equal with top-ranked candidates. The policy has the equity service office cajole search committees and insure that search committees have some modicum of diversity. The policy did not stop my department and dean from interviewing only white males applicants – five of five people interviewed – for a recent tenure-track opening in a field in which many females earn PhDs (health science). I therefore asked to have Senate’s equity committee be tasked with exploring a genuine affirmative action program. The provost balked by explaining that no other universities in Canada seem to be doing this. It is sad not even having the courage to refer something to a relevant committee for preliminary discussion.

In my 2 and 5 February 2015 Board of Governors blog postings (here and here), I provided solutions other than ELBA for improving our hiring of female faculty members. Clearly Carleton should have a moral obligation to meet the Lortie Commission’s 40/40 rule, which could be translated into a minimum of 80% of the ratio of the proportion of our female tenure-track hires divided by the proportion of female PhDs in each discipline. Allow me to also amplify one of my suggestions from those previous postings, namely double-member ridings. The problem with the way that Carleton and almost all other universities hire academic staff is that there is only one job opening per search, which guarantees lack of diversity. Consider the analogous case of purchasing computers. If you can only have one computer at a time, then you settle for a boring general-purpose machine. However, if you can have four computers at a time, you will probably purchase a desktop, a laptop, a tablet (e.g. iPad), and a smart phone. That is genuine diversity that arises simply by having one search for several computers. Likewise, when going to the grocery store with only $5, you tend to buy some boring foods for sustenance, such as rice and beans. The same would be true if you gave twenty people each $5 for groceries. But pool those monies and give people $100 for groceries, they tend to purchase a much greater diversity of foods. See Rory Sutherland’s article (here) for many more such examples, including how this approach landed him his current job. Why don’t we do the same for hiring faculty members? Deans can aggregate hires, e.g. they can much more rarely allow a unit to hire, but, when so doing, they could allow hiring of multiple people. This is the double-member riding scenario on steroids. Yes, this is radical, but I am tired of being bored by lack of vision and the monotonous mantra of ‘past practices’.

Discussion of gender equity of academic faculty members at Senate ended with questions about promulgating the data to members of Senate and the public. The provost and assistant vice president finance for ORIP rightfully wanted some of the data aggregated because small sample sizes could breach confidentiality, thereby constituting a FIPPA violation. I am okay with that, but will note that the provost showed these numbers at an open session of Senate. I took some admittedly fuzzy photos of the slides, as could have any member of the public. If it is a FIPPA violation to e-mail an attachment, then it is the same FIPPA violation projecting those slides on the big screen at an open meeting. Bruce Winer said that aggregation would be at the faculty level because many individual units are too small, which seems reasonable. Senate was also promised that in the future these data would break out contract instructors. I also hope that the data are separated between term positions and permanent (possibly preliminary) positions.

My biggest problem with the discussion of gender equity was not the provost’s lying and dissembling with statistics, but rather that the bottom line of Carleton’s upper administration seems to be that we do not have a problem with gender equity. Carleton University’s president, deans, and head of equity services sat silently as the provost rhapsodized over how well we treat women, especially in the past four years. [Update posted 5 March 2015: On 2 March 2015, Kim Matheson, Carleton’s vice president of research published an insightful editorial in her in-house newsletter regarding gender inequality, including at Carleton (link here)]. By contrast, my 2 February 2015 Board of Governors blog posting (here) virtually forms a prima facie case for huge gender bias problems with Carleton’s academic hiring, a situation seemingly compounded by the provost’s slides at Senate today, despite his specious verbal assertions to the contrary. How are we going to fix a problem when we aren’t even willing to admit we have a problem? I am not saying that everybody in Carleton’s upper administration is trying to hide our gender inequities. Carleton University certainly has gender bias regarding academic hiring, for instance in computer science and engineering, but it is impossible to determine the extent of the problem across the rest of the university from the provost’s pathetic presentation at Senate on 27 February 2015. Can Senate eventually get a decent presentation on gender equity in academic hiring that answers the original questions and have this presented by somebody who understands graphs, statistics, and quantitative data?

Closing remarks

The above posting constitutes my interpretation of what transpired at the open session of Carleton University’s Senate. I do not and will not report on what transpires at closed sessions. Furthermore, this blog posting should not substitute for the remarkable official minutes of meetings drafted by the secretary and clerk of Senate. As always, I welcome your feedback.

Reserve Funds

Today at Senate, the sole purpose of the vice president finance, Duncan Watt, seemed to be justification of the university’s reserve funds, which constitute a very important matter. His assistant vice president, Tim Sullivan, did a boring but great job explaining changes in federal laws over the past quarter century that mandated accounting practices that make it so that audited financial statements seemingly do not correspond with the university’s operating report. This topic was first raised – and I assume was the motivation for today’s presentation – by Campus United, an umbrella group representing all of Carleton University’s unions, in their so-called “Red Black Report”. While I am not an accountant, Duncan Watt and Tim Sullivan have done a decent job of justifying the reserve funds to an amateur like me. Actually, in my eyes, if anything, the pension reserve funds should probably be larger because, if long-term bond rates keep slipping, then our pension obligations will continue to rise. And frankly, I want our pension fund to be fully funded in the event that the province does something silly, like eliminate one of the two universities in town because of perceived redundancy. I certainly do not want Carleton’s pension plan to be as underfunded as that of Nortel. Given all the deferred maintenance we have, I also think our capital reserve fund might be underfunded. Duncan Watt promised to give his and Tim’s slides today to all members of senate and to post these slides publicly on the VP-finance website.


As a throw-away side comment, Duncan Watt said that our Enrolment-Linked Budget Allocation (ELBA) scheme will continue, although he said that there are discussions about changing it slightly. While he did not say this, given sharply decreasing BA enrolments, I am not sure how ELBA can continue as it currently exists without a revolt by the deans of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) and the Faculty of Public Affairs (FPA). Given ELBA and decreasing enrolments in our BA programs, FASS and FPA will become severely underfunded in the near term, which seems shortsighted and unfair, despite Dean John Osborne’s kind words about ELBA almost five years ago (here). Oddly, the university president and provost seem unemotional about these financial cuts to FASS and FPA, despite both of them intellectually squarely fitting in with FASS. Maybe I am reading too much into what was not said, but discussion of ELBA or lack thereof seemed genuinely interesting.

Duncan Watt did, however, say that in the long-term Carleton was looking into slightly adjusting ELBA. But, when pressed by a faculty member for details about such slight adjustments to ELBA, Duncan Watt did nothing more than broach the current scenario at University of Toronto (UT). At UT, faculties get far larger allocations of money than at Carleton from their ELBA-like scheme, but each faculty also has much larger expenses, such as having to cover rent and cost of new hires. If Carleton were to move to a system like at UT, this would not be a small adjustment for us. Because of Duncan Watt’s contradictory answers about ELBA, Carleton University’s Senate and Board of Governors need to hear far more about exactly what Carleton is contemplating with ELBA, especially as the finance office tries to (quietly?) financially decimate our BA programs.

New buildings vs. deferred maintenance

The same faculty member that asked about so-called small adjustments to ELBA also asked the very insightful question that if Carleton has so much deferred maintenance, then why are we erecting new academic buildings and paying for those out of our own pockets (mortgages). I refer readers back to my 13 June 2014 Board of Governor’s blog posting for discussion by the University of Toronto economics professor David K. Foot’s in a University Affairs article dated 9 April 2014, in which Foot argued that it is absurd spending money on new buildings in lieu of deferred maintenance when enrolments are declining or expected to decline. Demographic predictions still show roughly an 8% decrease in our enrolments over the next several years. While Duncan Watt is usually fiscally very conservative, which isn’t a bad thing, in erecting a new health building with our own monies, he is taking a huge gamble with the university’s long-term finances. While our neuroscience program might be good, our health science program is still rather green and fairly weak. Given that Carleton’s upper administration has publicly stated that we will never recoup the $45 million cost of this new building via increased enrolments, this gamble looks somewhat reckless. I certainly hope that the rumours are false that this new $45 million building is a way for our outgoing vice president of research – who has recently been transferred from psychology to health – to feather their nest.

Other things from Duncan Watt

Duncan Watt mentioned three other things that were noteworthy. First, he stated that Carleton has raised the first $131 million in its current fund-raising campaign. I was surprised to hear this number in open session. Second, he said that current rumours are that the province will not construct three new undergraduate campuses in the greater Toronto area (GTA). Third, he said that the River Building is our first, and so far only, building with planned extravagances. He said that an equivalent utilitarian building would have cost $45 million, rather than the $55 million that the River Building ultimately cost. I do not know how Carleton’s upper administration balances such expenses for architectural flourishes and the like. But it seems a shame that we missed a great recruiting opportunity by not putting the campus tour office in the River Building. Maybe campus tours and recruiting could take over the space currently occupied by the Board of Governors, the Canada-India Centre, and Tim Horton’s, none of whom really need such fancy digs.

Buried under a fast-moving ton of paperwork for proposed new programs

The end of Senate was occupied by voting on several hundred pages of documents on new programs and program changes, which has become commonplace for Senate. Until the province dumped quality assurance on individual universities, Senate never received such voluminous filings. Michael MacNeil wisely asked if Senate could receive a table of content with such lengthy documents, which is a fantastic idea, especially since members of Senate invariably never see these documents with the required 10-day notice of motion. This time around, these attachments were 500 pages long, but Senate received them only 3 days before being asked to vote on them, which is unconscionable. Unfortunately the answer from the clerk was that Senate will only see a table of contents if the relevant committees provide them, especially the Senate Academic Program Committee (SAPC) and the Senate Committee on Curriculum Admission and Study Policy (SCCASP), which seem to be pawns of Peter Ricketts and Don Russell. Until this process improves, Senate will seem like nothing more than a rubber-stamping machine. My advise to members of Senate is that if there is no table of contents and if we do not have at least ten days to review a motion, then we vote “no” on such motions, tabling these matters until Senate is fully informed in a timely fashion.

I asked one question about the proposed new Bachelor of Information Technology in Information Research Management Program. This program will compel students to bounce between Carleton and Algonquin College over the course of each week. Given Carleton’s (green-washed?) emphasis on sustainability and that these two campuses are 10 km apart, I asked whether Carleton had conducted an environmental impact statement over the forced commuting of students. The provost gave a monosyllabic answer, “no”. Such brevity is also unconscionable, especially for someone so prone to needlessly lengthy soliloquys. At least the university president realized his insult and was decent enough to do a quick song-and-dance to try to placate me.

Also buried in the nascent 500 pages of unexplained documents, were proposed new graduate programs in ethics. I have no problem with the proposed new PhD program in ethics. However, the two new master’s diplomas in ethics are course-work only. We keep piling on so many new course-work only graduate programs that we look like a community college. If we want to be a research-intensive university, we should start acting like one. But this trend of course-work only master’s programs has continued through three deans of graduate studies – John Shepherd, Wally Clement, and Matthias Neufang – which is telling.

Carleton is on unceded Algonquin territory

Finally, I want to refer back to an intentional omission at the start of the Senate meeting. There is still no verbal recognition at open sessions of Senate that Carleton is on unceded Algonquin territory. There is a watermark at the top of the open session agenda stating that Carleton is on Algonquin territory, but written communication is not the same as oral recognition. This is embarrassing and indicates our lack of commitment to or even recognition of our Indigenous neighbours.

Senate attendance must have been better than usual on 28 November 2014 because there was inadequate space for everyone in the traditional sixth floor senate room. Both rear doors were so clogged with people that it was impossible to exit or enter. The fire marshal could have shut the meeting down, something of an anti-quorum. Overall, that is a good sign. But Senate could use a new physical space. And this will soon become even more urgent when later this week the Board of Governors approves the addition of two new members of Senate from the ranks of our contract instructors. And frankly, the current Senate space has dreadful lighting and acoustics.

Suzanne Blanchard and Matthias Neufang gave a long presentation on enrolment, which is sensible timing given that provincial funding is based on enrolment numbers as of 1 November each year. The details were nicely presented and hopefully their slides will be made publicly available. The broad picture, though, was scary. We are now largely betting our future on international students and boutique programs. This is not sustainable because countries like China and India are creating their own universities and what is a fad today will soon be destined for the rubbish heap. Thus, in an era with grim demographics (our enrolments are forecasted to bottom out in 2019 at 4% below current levels), we are wagering on international recruiting and weak boutique programs, doing so without adequate consultation or planning. Not sure what happened to growing strengths, something we clearly are eschewing, and instead growing weak boutique programs as intentionally memorialized in our strategic mandate agreement, contrary to provincial instructions. While my colleagues have long spoken of Carleton’s financial position as being conservative, reliance on international recruiting and incipient boutique programs seems just the opposite to me.

One thing we could do to improve recruitment is not have campus tours start at Robertson Hall, which looks like a minimum security prison, especially with the special constables behind bullet-proof glass at the front entrance. If we are going to keep investing in fancy new buildings, maybe they could include a less gulag-esque visitor center.

John Shepherd and Jerry Tomberlin brought forward an emergency motion asking for Senate to delegate authority to Senate Executive to approve a new masters of accounting program. The motion was approved. This motion was driven by expedited provincial/external reviews, which in turn were driven by consolidation of the three professional accounting certification societies in Canada into one new society. I think the Senate vote was justified, although I have no idea why the alternative was not suggested of convening Senate in December or early January for an emergency session once the new masters in accounting program was drafted. It is also a bit embarrassing that Carleton was caught by surprise that something in our strategic mandate agreement was approved.

There was long discussion about fall break, with a few things I had never heard before. University of Ottawa has long ago scheduled their fall breaks for the next four years, and apparently we will be synchronized with them, at least if they don’t change their dates. Apparently our fall break is not scheduled for the week of thanksgiving because Carleton offers many quarter-credit (i.e. six week) courses, which we prefer to not have split up by the break. What went unsaid was that this must mean that these six-week courses are only offered during the first half of fall term. For instance, this year there were seven weeks prior to fall break and five weeks after fall break. I am not sure why we could not schedule fall break (and winter break) for the exact middle of term and thereby offer a pair of six-week sessions each term. I am also wondering whether faculty members can request that their normal half-credit (i.e. twelve week) courses be offered as intensive six-week courses. That is, could we request that our courses meet twice as often as usual each week, but for half the number of weeks?

Finally, so as not to be redundant, please see my Board of Governors blog posting for 29 November 2014 for discussion of Carleton’s disgraceful and at best quarter-hearted acknowledgment of being on Algonquin lands.

This blog reflects my personal opinions of what transpired at the open session of Senate. This is not meant to replace the official minutes, which are remarkably well done in Senate.

The 18 September 2014 meeting of Science Faculty Board occurred without a quorum. Several undergraduate course calendar and program changes were approved at that meeting. A few days later, I protested the lack of quorum.

At the 13 November 2014 meeting of Science Faculty board, the matter of lack of quorum was discussed and dealt with. The previous round of undergraduate course calendar and program changes were voted upon once again and approved again. A new “note 6” was added to the minutes of the 18 September 2014 meeting to alert Senate that there was a lack of quorum and therefore any decisions made on 18 September were null and void. Thanks to the dean and associate dean of science for making these changes. I assume that Senate by and through the Senate Committee on Curriculum, Admissions, and Studies Policy (SCCASP) will now have to vote again on these changes.

On 21 September 2014, I had complained about lack of quorum at the 19 June 2014 Science Faculty Board meeting, which also included approval of calendar changes, but that matter has not yet been resolved.

At the 13 November 2014 meeting, I asked whether Science Faculty Board had approved the graduation list for November 2014 convocation at their meeting on 18 September 2014. The dean of science said that Science Faculty Board no longer votes on graduation lists, but simply passes through approval or rejection of graduation lists from individual departments and institutes within the Faculty of Science. Antithetically, graduation lists are not even on Science Faculty Board’s consent agenda. I leave it to Senate to decide whether Science Faculty Board is allowed to delegate and abdicate this important responsibility of voting on graduation lists.

Finally, note that I have just reported on events that transpired at the 13 November 2014 meeting of Science Faculty Board, which is a closed/confidential session. Therefore, on 14 November 2014, I obtained explicit written permission from the dean of science to blog about matters associated with Science Faculty Board quorum.

A unit at Carleton recently attempted to change a small portion of the undergraduate calendar via an e-mail poll (for the record, I fully endorse the proposed change). The proposal and request to vote was sent via an e-mail that ended with the following words, “silence implies consent.” While the author did not intend it as such, this is a fundamentally anti-feminist governance policy, one that also flies in the face of virtually all parliamentary procedure or rules of order, in which silence typically implies abstention. What should our students think when faculty and administrators advocate for “silence implying consent”?

I read the sentence with the phrase “silence implies consent” to our 14 year-old daughter, whose immediate response was that this encourages rape culture. This demonstrates that the three-word phrase is neither cryptic nor benign. Carleton seems stuck in the “no means no” era, clueless that “yes means yes” is a far better and more feminist policy for sexual consent or any other form of consent.

I objected in writing within an hour of the governance policy being promulgated that “silence implies consent.” Yet this offensive phrase was not rescinded nor modified. Such apathy and inaction is as disturbing to me as the original offensive phrase.

I am not advocating a fundamentalist adherence to political correctness. The mere existence of my blogs is supposedly a breach of political correctness! But faculty members and administrators in official correspondence should avoid espousing rape culture as much as we should avoid espousing racism, whether inadvertent or not.

Including “silence implies consent” as part of our governance policy (it clearly was not dicta) exemplifies the many gender problems at Carleton. Carleton hires a smaller percentage of female tenure-track faculty than most other Canadian universities, and I have not yet seen any plans to remedy this. Based on my ridiculously small sample size, Carleton seems to pay female faculty members less than their otherwise equivalent male counterparts. For example, in 2006, my (opposite sex) partner and I were simultaneously hired by the same department at Carleton. At the time, she had twice as many peer-reviewed publications as me. At the time, she had acquired millions of dollars in external funding, while I had obtained none. Yet the university insisted that her starting salary would have to be less than mine, where things remain to this day despite that she has even further eclipsed me in teaching, research, and especially administration. If silence implies consent, as it seems to be, then we should no longer be silent about such gross inequities.

Carleton’s governance issues are not simply restricted to gender issues. I highlighted several due process foibles in this and my Board of Governors blog. For instance, on 26 September 2014, I noted in this senate blog that science faculty board has been blatantly lying to senate by reporting approval of many official matters despite knowing that there was no faculty board quorum. This was even more insidious because faculty boards get to set their own quorum rules. On 13 November 2014, science faculty board will be convening for the first time since my complaint. However the lies of omission to senate about lack of quorum are conspicuously absent from the agenda for next week’s faculty board meeting. [Note added 8 November 2014: Science faculty board did partly heed my complaint. At the 13 November meeting, the proposed program and calendar changes approved at the previous quorum-less meeting will be voted on again, albeit with some changes since the September 2014 meeting.]

I have been repeatedly told that one of my jobs is to bolster the reputation of Carleton. I certainly do that in my teaching and research. While my job might not be perfect, it is the best job I have ever had (and with the best commute and with many superb colleagues), which I tell everyone who will listen. But unlike lies of omission about quorum promulgated by the dean, I will neither falsify nor hide egregious administrative university acts. When university officials trample due process, I will speak of it. When the university fosters gross gender inequities, I will speak of it. When anybody at our university espouses rape culture or misconstrues silence, I will speak of it. In the long run, I would rather improve our university than falsely act as a sexist or autocratic cheerleader. To recycle an (albeit anachronistically slightly sexist) epigraph, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” (Brandeis 1913: 10).