A new academic plan is in the works, and the chair of the plan’s committee wants students’ input. Provost David Graham announced the intention to create an academic plan at a fall senate meeting on Oct. 8, butlast week an official call was made for student’s contributions to be added to the debate.
The academic plan is part of a larger scheme called Concordia’s “strategic framework.’ Administrators plan on pushing Concordia into the top five of Canadian comprehensive universities by 2018. Usually, Concordia dwindles at the bottom of the rankings.
“I think it would be extremely useful to us as a university to know the views of students about the kinds of support that students need to increase graduation rates, to enable students to graduate faster from programs,” said Graham. “To give us the kind of feedback that we need to improve our programs, to improve our teaching.”
There are four tiers of focus in the academic plan: the faculty, students, academic programs and good administrative practice. A fifth focus remains open to suggestion.
Students can offer feedback on the academic plan at three Open to Question sessions coming up this week, on an online forum, or by emailing Graham. Student representatives on senate and faculty councils can also voice their opinion.
When asked what the ideal student response would be, Graham said bluntly: “To have one.” The provost acknowledged that students at a commuter university like Concordia are often preoccupied with studies, work and family, but encouraged students to take a more active role. “The more engaged you are, the better you succeed.”
“That’d be great,” Graham said when asked whether he would want student representative bodies Concordia Student Union and Graduate Student Association to offer feedback. When asked about student comment to date, Graham said, “I haven’t had any student response.”
CSU president Heather Lucas had not yet heard of the academic plan when contacted Monday. “That’s not something that I’ve heard about yet, so we’re definitely going to look into it. If anything, we’ll have some time of forum, like a link on the website, for students to just share their opinions on the academics, and see what they think.” GSA representative Roddy Doucet said they would work with the provost, once they receive a formal invitation.
Some of the areas Graham thinks need improving include student support for issues like better library services and improved graduate studies funding, a problem he said is common to Quebec universities. One concrete idea he’d like to see in the plan is a standardized course evaluation system, which varies from faculty to faculty and depending on the status of the professor. Streamlining the process would hopefully allow for students to see how other students commented.
Two groups will be steering the academic plan draft: a working group composed of faculty and staff and a steering committee chaired by Graham, VP research Louise Dandurand, six deans and chief librarian Gerald Beasley. Graham plans on having an initial discussion at the senate’s March meeting, and to adopt a plan at the following meeting in April. Finally, the Board of Governors would discuss the plan at their monthly meeting in May.