Mark Jones, “Petitioners: Please Support the Morelli Motion” (Open Letter to Queen’s Senate, 21 November 2011)

As emailed by Mark Jones to Queen’s Senators and copied to campus lists on 21 November, 2011:

Dear Queen’s Senators and colleagues:

I am sending you links to two petitions in support of Senator Morelli’s alternative motion for the academic plan.  I hope to present the finished petitions to Senate tomorrow.  The first of these shows 766 signatures so far from members of the Queen’s community.  So many parents and friends were also concerned and wished to sign that I created the second petition for them, and theirs has garnered 58 signatures to date.  (These numbers may change by tomorrow through new signatures and verifications.)

Senator Morelli’s motion has also been strongly endorsed by QUFA Council, a representative body of academic units at Queen’s, and unanimously endorsed by the Department of Art.

If you study the signatures, as I hope you may do, you will find that they express both deep and broad support for the Morelli motion.  There is strong support, for instance, from both the Department of Art and the School of Business, and from student, alumni, staff, and faculty members alike.   In the main petition about 19% of the signatories are effectively anonymous (using no name or first name only) and over 70% of the signatures are (so far as one can tell) by women.  Both of these percentages are worth pondering.

Senator Morelli submitted his notice of motion on October 24.  His motion therefore refers to a draft plan submitted by the APTF in September.  The APTF has revised its plan since then, but the revisions do not affect the pertinence of Senator Morelli’s motion.  For his motion is centrally concerned with the fact that the APTF’s draft Plan is incomplete:  “The essential problem,” he says, “is that it is unrealistic to expect a small committee to complete a full Academic Plan addressing all branches and aspects of the university in a year.”   The APTF’s revisions have added nothing to supply the significant deficiencies of its September draft, such as its failures to plan for graduate and professional studies, research, and faculty renewal.  Under pressure of time, the APTF has revised mainly by subtraction, deleting many recommendations and several discussions, e.g., of virtualization, undergraduate TAs, and UNIV 100.

Rather than rejecting the APTF’s work, the Morelli motion proposes a respectful “compromise” by which Senate may adopt all that is best in the APTF’s considerable accomplishment—both its most complete drafts and its consultative and transparent process—while rejecting the pretense that it has completed the “Queen’s University Academic Plan.”   The choice is between (a) pretending to have finished a comprehensive plan, and (b) admitting what we have learned in this very important process:  that while we cannot create a comprehensive plan for the whole university in a year, such a one-time plan is not what a dynamically evolving university needs.  What such a university needs–what we need–is the ongoing yearly planning process that the APTF has pioneered and modeled, involving genuine consultation on specific emerging issues, transparent posting of consultative results, and interactive drafting and revision, all under the academic stewardship of Senate.  Hence the final two bullet points of Senator Morelli’s motion.

In view of the intrinsic merits of the Morelli motion, in view of its forward-looking and constructive logic, and in view of the very strong support for it across campus, I urge you as Queen’s Senators to read Senator Morelli’s motion carefully and to vote to approve it tomorrow.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark Jones

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