Dear Professors Adams, Bryant, Chan, Nossal, Scott, and Smol,
We are encouraged by your expressions of your determination “to gather the thoughts of the Queen’s community” and to heed “the major tones that people are speaking” as you begin your work of drafting the university’s academic plan by the end of August (Queen’s Gazette, 25 May 2010).
We continue to believe, however, that a genuine academic plan needs to be constructed by the whole community from the ground up, not by a committee of six administrative appointees working from documents which already misrepresent stake-holders’ wishes and with only three months for “consultation” in summer, when most of the university community is away. Despite the assurances of the Principal and with all of the good will in the world, your committee cannot sufficiently supplement and rectify the existing record (including reports from Arts and Science that were overwhelmingly rejected by its own Faculty Board in March) in three or four months.
We have expressed some of our concerns and made some recommendations to the Principal in preparation for a meeting with him in June. We herewith share with you our memo to him and request that you pay special attention to the recommendations for transparency in consulting. We believe that the kind of “listening” that you envision—where you “hear everyone and pick out themes that resonate”—cannot be done fairly by any six people and can therefore be effective and credible only if it is done in an open and transparent manner involving all parties in both the expression and the listening—e.g., not by way of community emails to an enclosed committee but rather by a blog-style website where all commentary on all sides is visible to all interested parties.
Wishing you luck—
Frank Burke, Mark Jones, Samantha King, Roberta Lamb, Susan Lord, Lauren McNicol, and Andrea Phillipson
for Queen’s Students and Employees for Real Academic Planning