At the board of governors meeting Feb. 29, a cheerful round of applause followed the formal appointment of Judith Woodsworth as Concordia’s president and vice-chancellor by unanimous vote. Her five-year contract will begin Aug. 1.
The news followed the announcement that David Graham, dean of the faculty of Arts and Science, had been voted in as provost and vice-president, academic affairs. The university has been without a provost, who oversees the administration of the academic activities of the university, since Martin Singer stepped down in July 2007.
After the good news came bad: Concordia is slated to receive a disappointingly small sum from the federal government this spring. According to a report by VP Finance Larry English, only an estimated $6 million of more than $187 million set aside for Quebec post-secondary schools will come Concordia’s way.
Interim President Michael Di Grappa told the board the figure is lower than in years past because the government split the money 60/40 between universities and CEGEPs , instead of along the traditional 75/25 ratio.
Concordia’s cut of the $112.2 million destined for Quebec universities is also smaller than usual because significant amounts will be allocated to bolster medical programs, smaller regional universities and mono-disciplinary schools.
CSU President Angelica Novoa had to agree with Di Grappa. “I think it’s very clear in our minds now that increasing fees for students leads to a decrease in the amount that the government . . . puts toward education. It’s a trend that is going on everywhere in Canada and for that reason, we should stop supporting fee increases,” said Novoa.
In an interview, newly-appointed Provost Graham said that the revision of the funding formula “probably disadvantaged Concordia more than any other university in Quebec, because of the mix of programmes we have and our relative lack of doctoral students compared to some universities. But these funds are operating funds, not capital funding for new construction, so to some extent at least the issues are separate.”
Marketing the ivory tower
The 18-month plan to update the school’s image and improves Concordia’s visibility appears to be working, reported Sami Antaki, the head of the marketing department, to the board. Anataki spearheaded the creation of a new logo over a year ago and has overseen the marketing strategy to sell the school as a dynamic place of learning to potential students and donors. It has been reported that traffic has already increased.
A ‘Web 2.0 initiative’ has commissioned students to blog about their school experience and is making use of services such as Facebook (the group had 141 friends as of Friday morning), video and photo-sharing sites (YouTube and Flickr); an intensive public transit campaign (October to February) brought Concordia’s image to 10 cities across Canada with billboards and spot ads to the tune of $240,000.
Antaki clarified in an interview after the meeting that “our budget hasn’t changed, we’ve re-allocated to where we think it’s more effective.”
Roger Cote, acting VP Services, confirmed to the board that the administration had ratified the collective agreement voted on by Concordia University Services Sector Union (CUSSU) that week.
Joanne Locke is now interim dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science,
replacing former dean David Graham.
A new position was created: Dean and Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies. Dr. Louise
Dandurand, who was acting provost while the university searched for a candidate, has taken on her third role of the year as Acting Dean and Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies, until such time as a permanent incumbent will have been appointed.
The position of Associate Vice-President,
Research, will be abolished once Dr. Vo-Van’s term is completed at the end of May.
The university has begun searching for a dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science to replace outgoing Dean Esmail Nabil, whose term is up May 2008. The search committee is looking at four candidates for the position of dean of ENCS, and is to hold interviews on March 6 and a public consultation at the end of March.