David Graham was appointed Concordia’s new Provost February 29. As Provost he will be in charge of academics at Concordia.
What areas do you want to tackle first as Provost?
Three areas I would mention are: integrating planning and budgeting to a higher degree than we have been used to doing, providing a more solid administrative framework for faculty relations [.] and strengthening the work we’re already doing in the area of student recruitment, retention and recognition.
In what areas do students and the administration not see eye-to-eye, and where do you think they agree?
Well, the obvious area of disagreement is the question of fees. It is natural for students to want tuition and ancillary fees to be kept as low as possible, while administrators are conscious of all the things that need attention and that require money to be dealt with. . Trying to strike a balance is certainly not easy, because in a context of systemic under-funding, this is one area where the short-term interests of students (keeping costs down) may diverge from the long-term health of the institution.
Are you concerned that the university is putting more funds than ever into facilities, but that government transfers are decreasing? Do you think this funding formula will affect students in discernible ways?
I’m not sure that the first question accurately reflects the reality, which is more complex. [.] In the final analysis, I don’t think we’re spending “more than ever” on building: we’re trying to sustain an effort that has been really important in raising our profile in a very positive way both within and outside Montreal. [.]
As for the full effects of those changes to the funding formula, we will have to see. We have to be fiscally responsible, there is no doubt of that: the government is watching all universities far more closely than previously.
We are doing our best to identify areas where we can achieve savings through greater operational efficiencies in administration. It does seem clear, though, that unless there is some increase in our funding, we will have some very difficult decisions to make, and that some of these will have an impact on all of us. The important factor in making those decisions is that we do our best to ensure that we find ways to maintain our overall academic quality.