At its meeting of 22 November 2011, Senate considered the following motion from the Academic Planning Task Force (APTF):
(a) that the Senate approve the Queen’s University Academic Plan 2011 and its supporting Four Pillars;
(b) that the Senate publish and disseminate these documents as a guide for the entire academic community: the students, the staff, the faculty, alumni and friends;
(c) that the Senate encourage the academic leadership, including the Provost, the Vice-Principals, the Deans and the Department Heads, to be guided by the principles of the Plan in planning decisions and to implement the recommendations when possible and practicable within the resources available.
(d) that the Senate endorse a continuous cycle of Planning, Implementation, and Monitoring under the leadership of the Provost.
In view of objections to parts (a) and (d), Senator J. Morelli moved and Senator P. Fachinger seconded the following amendment to this motion.
(a) that the Senate approve the Queen’s University Academic Plan 2011, which consists of a 13-page Academic Plan summary and its supporting Fourfour Pillars, and will serve as a first and more comprehensive [sic] in a series of Senate Academic Planning documents;
(b) that the Senate publish and disseminate these documents this document as a guide for the entire academic community: the students, the staff, the faculty, alumni and friends;
(c) that the Senate encourage the academic leadership, including the Provost, the Vice-Principals, the Deans and the Department Heads, to be guided by the principles of the Plan in planning decisions and to implement the recommendations when possible and practicable within the resources available;
(d) that the Senate endorse a continuous cycle of Planning, Implementation, and Monitoring under the leadership of the Provostby:
(i) striking each fall a task force of students, staff, and faculty who, using the consultation process established by the 2010-2011 APTF, shall consider a new planning issue or set of issues to be recommended by the task force of the previous year. As a starting point for the 2011-2012 academic year the 2010-2011 APTF recommends that consideration be given to the issues of (1) virtualization and online learning, and (2) faculty renewal.
(ii) [sic] each such task force shall submit its Report, including recommendations and observations concerning the implementation of previous recommendations, to Senate for approval.
The amended motion passed unanimously. Two positive points about the amendment:
(1) The amended motion ensures that the phrase “Queen’s University Academic Plan” must refer to the whole document, whereas the previous wording designated only the opening summary, pp. 2-13, as the plan proper.
(2) It also provides that the ongoing process be under the auspices of Senate, not “the leadership of the Provost.” This is a critical point, since the Provost is an officer of the Board of Trustees. At this very meeting of Senate, the Administration invited university lawyer Diane Kelly to read Senate her opinion that the Board’s responsibility for finances means that Administrators, as the Board’s “officers,” can make financial decisions that have academic repercussions as a matter of “managerial” authority, without consulting Senate or the Faculty Boards. In other words, the Board, Provost, and Deans have the managerial right to pre-empt and override all academic consultation when they can produce a financial justification for decisions (such as freezing admissions to the BFA), even when those actions have pronounced academic consequences. To give academic planning explicitly into the hands of an Administration and a Board of Trustees that take this view of their own authority would have been to reduce academic planning entirely to financial planning. Since Senate has authority (at least officially) over the academic welfare of the University, and since it has mostly academic (student and faculty) members, it is the proper authority for supervising academic planning.
One less positive point: Senate has approved a document under the title “Queen’s University Academic Plan” that is very far from being a complete or comprehensive academic plan. It deals well with a few issues, but says little or nothing about many others that loom large for the university: e.g., graduate and professional studies (see the Senate discussion from September), research and its relation to teaching (for instance, should the university be willing to de-link research and teaching positions?), virtualization and online learning, faculty renewal. As a matter of truth in advertising, the APTF should have borrowed one more thing from the Principal’s Where Next: its subtitle.
- Queen’s News Centre, “Senate Unanimously Endorses Academic Plan” (23 November 2011)
- Mark Jones, Cut First, Advise Second, Ask Questions Later (11 November 2011)
- Mark Jones, The “Final” Draft: How it’s been Revised, and Why We Should Care (4 November 2011)
- Mark Jones, Academic Planning and Graduate Studies: The Unfinished Project (25 October 2011)
- Mark Jones, The New Draft Academic Plan: Texts, Problems, and a Solution (19 October 2011)
- Mark Jones, Now is the Time to Speak Out about the Draft Academic Plan (30 September 2011)
- Mark Jones, Queen’s Draft Academic Plan as of September 2011: A Dissent (27 September 2011)