Motion for FAS Faculty Board (Excerpt from Faculty Board Minutes) (3 April 2009)

Excerpt from FAS Faculty Board Minutes for 3 April 2009

[This motion opposes the Dean’s proposal to Faculty Board on 13 Feb. 2009 “to suspend admission in September 2009 to course combinations which have had 25 or fewer students enrolled over the last three years.” Though the motion passed, the suspensions proceeded as the Dean had proposed. As can be seen in Queen’s Senate Agenda for 23 April 2009, two Senators (J. Welsh and F. Rouget) submitted separate motions to Senate on 9 April to the same effect: “that Senate abide by the determination of the Faculty Board” (Agenda, pp. 142-43). But the Senate’s Agenda Committee referred both motions to the Senate Committee on Academic Development for “clarification” on grounds that Senate has no power “to dictate to Faculty Boards the implementation of their own procedures” (Agenda, pp. 140-41). In the end the Faculty Board and Senate motions were end-run by a legal pretense that since the power to make financial decisions belongs to the Board of Trustees, it (and the Deans, as its “officers”) have power to make unilateral financial decisions with academic implications. Specifically, University Counsel Diane Kelly contended that “The Board, through its officers, has the authority to make resource-based decisions that influence the academic program of the University,” and that “Deans have the authority and responsibility to take steps to ensure the Faculty is fiscally sound. These actions will ultimately have an impact on the academic offerings of the Faculty” (Senate Minutes for 23 April 2009 (I.5.e)). Less explicitly delivered (but implicit in the Agenda Committee’s refusal to allow J. Welsh’s and F. Rouget’s motions to be voted upon in Senate) was the view that the powers of Senate and of the Board of Trustees are asymmetrical: that whilst the Board, entrusted with financial decision-making, can make decisions with academic implications, Senate, entrusted with academic decision-making, cannot make decisions with financial implications. The issue is further confused by the Dean’s subsequent claim to have found a consensual compromise (“Report to Faculty of Arts and Science: 21 April 2009”; see also the Senate Minutes for 20 May 2009 (III.1.d)). But Professor Emeritus David Mullan, among the nation’s foremost administrative lawyers, reviewed the question at QUFA’s request and concluded that the FAS decision to suspend enrolments “should not have been taken without reference to Senate,” whose “authority in such matters is guaranteed by the 1982 Board of Trustees’ policy, Functions of the Senate” (“Discussion Paper . . . on Responsibility for Academic Programs,” 5 Nov. 2009, p. 1).


In the Faculty Board minutes below, the final paragraph clearly illustrates how the initiative for an “academic planning” process arose in response to budget-cutting initiatives being instituted without clear reference to academic criteria. Although FAS required its units to have academic plans, it did not have one itself. ]

Ms. Soderlind made a motion from the floor requesting approval that she be allowed to introduce a motion from the floor in accordance with By-Law 1.17.

The motion was seconded by Ms. Lord, and then passed with the required two-thirds approval by Faculty Board.

Ms. Soderlind moved the following:

Given that Faculty Board Bylaw 1. 10(B) identifies the procedures for “substantial change” to concentrations or programs, Bylaw 2.5(B)(iv) states that such changes are to be “submitted to the [Curriculum] committee from the department(s) concerned” and Bylaw 2.3(C)(i), (ii), and (viii) require these changes to be examined by the Committee of Departments, and that recommendations on such proposed changes go to the Faculty Board, “which shall make the final decision (Bylaw 1.10(B); and,

Given that the proposed program “suspensions” did not originate with the affected academic units or departments and have not followed the bylaws of the Arts & Science Faculty Board;

We move the following:

1.  All “suspensions” of “degree types”, programs or concentrations that did not go through the appropriate and properly scheduled departmental and faculty curriculum committees (i.e., October 2008 through January 2009) be withdrawn.

2.  All programs and concentrations proceed for 2009-2010.

3.  All curriculum review discussions be re-convened in a collegial manner following appropriate procedures as specified by our Faculty Board Bylaws. That is:

a.  All curriculum review requests made by the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Arts & Science go to the departments formally, in writing.

b.  The departments review these suggestions and develop recommendations regarding the curriculum review in a timely manner, so that the departmental plans proceed through the departmental curriculum committees and departmental meetings, using the usual procedures and timelines to bring these departmental recommendations to the Faculty Curriculum Committee in October.

c.  The Faculty Curriculum Committee follows Faculty Board Bylaws and reviews each proposal from each department.

d.  The Faculty Curriculum Committee Omnibus Report then goes to the Committee of Departments and the Faculty Board of Arts & Science according to the usual schedule.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Day. There was general discussion and the motion was then passed.

. . . .

The discussion of the motion was wide-ranging, including the expression of concerns from faculty members about the curriculum planning and decision-making processes, and the need for clearer and more consistent communication from the Faculty Office. Faculty members also commented on the need for a clearly articulated Faculty of Arts and Science strategic plan to help navigate these difficult times, as well to enable the Faculty of Arts and Science to move forward with creative, efficient, and equitable planning processes. The Dean addressed these concerns by explaining the planning and communication processes in progress; he agreed that communicating a Faculty of Arts and Science strategic plan is a priority.

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