Should Queen’s Dissolve the Senate Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures? (16 May 2013)

By Mark Jones, posted 16 May 2013.

A notice of motion buried in the 330-page April agenda for Queen’s Senate would have Senate dissolve the Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures (SCCAPL) at the end of May (see appendix to this post for the notice of motion).  

What does SCCAPL do?

SCCAPL is “responsible for adjudicating nominations to two premier public lectures, the Chancellor Dunning Trust Lecture and the Brockington Lectureship. It is also responsible for adjudicating applications to the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund for the support of the Arts at Queen’s, and oversees the activities of the Rosen Lecture Series” (Senate Minutes, May 2007, p. 3; links added).  These terms were approved by Senate in February 2002 (Senate Minutes, Feb. 2002, p. 3).  According to the September 2003 Senate Minutes, “grants up to $7,000 are awarded for a Brockington Visitor and grants up to $16,000 for the Chancellor Dunning Trust Lecture.”[1]

Why dissolve SCCAPL?

The answer to this is not clear.  The “Notice of Motion” includes a “Rationale,” but the rationale gives no reasons.  Instead, it offers a little narrative of how the Provost met with Donato Santeramo and Ireneus Zuk and “was in agreement with the recommendation.”  A proper rationale for dissolving a committee should include a clear explanation of how the committee is ineffective or unneeded, or of how its functions would be better achieved by another body.

What is “the recommendation”?

“The recommendation” is that SCCAPL’s functions be taken over by a new “Advisory Committee to the Provost on the Arts (ACPA).”  Indeed, while SORC is asking Senate to approve the dissolution of SCCAPL, it is only “for information” that it apprises Senate of the creation of the ACPA.  Thus it seems to presume that Senate will approve the dissolution and, implicitly, the transfer of SCCAPL’s functions to the Provost.

 What would the “Advisory Committee to the Provost on the Arts” be like?

First, it would be an advisory committee to the Provost.  In other words, decisions would be up to the Provost, not to the committee.  Second, aside from two student members (to be chosen by the AMS and SGPS), the “Method of Election/Selection” says only that the other members would “be selected”—presumably by the Provost or his subordinates.  Third, this committee would include the “Vice-Principal (Advancement) or his or her designated representative,” which suggests that decisions on invitations are to  be aligned with the Office of Advancement (i.e., with institutional branding and money-raising).  And fourth, it would “be chaired by the designate of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).”

Why shouldn’t the Provost be in charge of Creative Arts and Public Lectures?

This is a matter of proper distribution of responsibilities—or, one might say, of the balance of powers.  Arts and Public Lectures are matters of the intellectual life of the institution.  Thus they are profoundly academic matters, properly belonging under the stewardship of Senate, which “determines all matters of an academic character that affect the University as a whole.”[2]  As a matter of academic freedom, a committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures should be able to invite visitors in the spirit of disinterested intellectual inquiry.   But if selection of such visitors—and even of the members of the selection committee—is up to the Provost in coordination with the Office of Advancement, it is possible that disinterested intellectual inquiry could be upstaged by considerations of institutional promotion; there would be a presumption in favour of “safe” or “moderate” or “Queen’s-friendly” voices in preference to those that were critical or oppositional.  This is why the Provost should leave such matters at arm’s length.

In Sum, Should Queen’s Dissolve the Senate Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures?

The answer is clearly no.  Please write the Provost (Office of the Provost, provost@queensu.ca), the Chair of SORC (Lynda Colgan, lynda.colgan@queensu.ca), and your Senators (addresses here; mass-mailing list here).  Urge them not to dissolve SCCAPL and not to hand its functions over to Administration.

APPENDIX: 

SORC (Senate Operations Review Committee) Notice of Motion (presented with the Queen’s Senate Agenda for 30 April; to be moved 28 May).[3]

[Moved, that] Queen’s Dissolve the Senate Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures

Rationale:

On February 15, 2013, D. Santeramo and I. Zuk, Chair, (SCAPL) and the Provost, A. Harrison met to discuss a motion passed by the Arts and Public Lectures to dissolve the current Senate Committee in favour of creating an Advisory Committee to the Provost on the Arts.  The motion would allow for the continued adjudication of the funding of the Brockington, Dunning and George Taylor Richardson endowed funds through a sub-committee while ensuring a direct and dedicated approach to the enhancement and development of the Arts within the Queen’s community. The Provost was in agreement with the recommendation, and therefore, SORC was asked to consider the dissolution of the Senate Committee on the Creative Arts and Public Lectures Committee. The Provost agreed that the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee as developed by the Creative Arts and Public Lectures Committee would serve the Queen’s arts community in a significantly. The Senate Creative Arts and Public Lectures Committee asked SORC to consider the dissolution effective August 31, 2013 and the Advisory Committee to the Provost on the Arts will be established effective September 1, 2013.

Motion:

That the Senate Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures Committee be dissolved effective August 31, 2013.

For information:

Advisory Committee to the Provost on the Arts (ACPA)
Terms of Reference
Effective September 1, 2013

Mandate

The Advisory Committee shall:

a.     Find ways and means of ensuring that the cultivation of the arts is one of the central purposes of this University;
b.     Develop initiatives for the arts and humanities and recommendations of ways to implement these initiatives;
c.     Through a sub-committee, annually publicize, receive and adjudicate proposals for the Brockington Visitorship, the Chancellor Dunning Trust Lectureship and the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund; and,
d.     Report on its activities to the Vice Principal’s Advisory Committee (VPOC) at least once each year.

Mission

The Advisory Committee to the Provost on the Arts is committed to making the arts part of the cognitive life of the University by fostering a supportive environment for the arts and maximizing their visibility within the University and throughout the community. The Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives of creative arts units; of galleries and/or humanities units; student representatives; faculty members; University administrators and members of the Kingston community. In identifying priorities and setting goals for the arts at Queen’s, the Advisory Committee serves as a catalyst for innovative collaborations across the University and wider community. The Advisory Committee is dedicated to providing a regular forum for communication among all members of the arts community and Queen’s constituency, working to secure funds for co-curricular collaborations and providing a means for arts outreach.

Membership

The Advisory Committee shall be comprised of the following: the designee of the Provost and Vice Principal (Academic), five faculty/staff members representing various areas of the arts, the humanities, the Union Gallery, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and the School of Computing, the Vice-Principal (Advancement) or his or her designated representative, one member at large, one undergraduate student, one graduate student and one or more members of the Kingston arts community.

Method of Election/Selection

The five faculty/staff members shall be selected on a rotating basis, with no more than one from each of the various areas noted in the membership section, preferably the Head, Director, or their delegate. The undergraduate student shall be selected by the Alma Mater Society and the graduate student shall be selected by the Society of Graduate and Professional Students. The member at large may be a staff or student member; a call for nominations to be sent through University Communications mechanisms. With the advice of the Advisory Committee members, the Chair shall invite members of the Kingston arts community to serve.

Length of Terms

Students: One year term; External: two year term; Faculty: three year term.

Organization

The Advisory Committee shall be chaired by the designate of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). The Advisory Committee shall meet at least twice each semester. Quorum shall be eight members. In the fall of each year, the committee shall select the sub-committee to adjudicate awards. The sub-committee may include members from the broader university community. Support for the ACPA shall be provided by the Provost’s Office. The Rosen Lecture Series Committee shall be a sub-committee of ACPA and report annually to the Chair.


[1] For further information, see the Secretariat’s pages on “Creative Arts and Public Lectures” and “The Brockington Visitorship and the Chancellor Dunning Trust Lecture”; the list of Dunning Lecturers since 1947-48, including Robert Oppenheimer, John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Koestler, Northrop Frye, Angela Davis, Edward Said, Martha Nussbaum, Linda Colley, Naomi Klein, and Ralph Nader; and the list of Brockington Visitors since 1969, including Lester B. Pearson, Buckminster Fuller, Alex Colville, Adrienne Clarkson, Flora MacDonald, Mordecai Richler, and Roberta Bondar.

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2 Responses to Should Queen’s Dissolve the Senate Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures? (16 May 2013)

  1. Michael says:

    This is just another in a long, sad series of movements by the senior administration to centralize power and diminish the role of faculty — who can be inconveniently independent-minded — since Wolfe entered our fold. Thanks to whoever noticed this and thanks to Mark for publicizing it. A 330-page agenda in itself is a disgrace and an outrage to anyone that cares about reasonable governance.

  2. Michael says:

    Sorry about that “Wolfe” instead of “Woolf”–I’ve been reading about James Wolfe lately.

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