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Concordia Senate passes academic plan

by The Concordian November 8, 2011
Concordia’s five-year academic plan was passed in a secret ballot held during a divisive senate meeting last Friday afternoon.
Despite being rejected unanimously in a symbolic motion by the CSU council last week, the revised 2011-2016 academic plan was adopted in a vote of 26 to 19.
Tension ran high as the students who sit on senate wanted to delay the plan until next year. CSU president Lex Gill voiced her concerns about rushing the multi-million dollar plan being put into motion without the endorsement of the students.
“It would be a tragedy to see a document with so much good it in to be passed without any student support,” she said. “What’s the rush? What’s the difference between an academic plan passed now and one passed in January?”
Graduate student senator Holly Nazar also expressed her concerns, saying she didn’t feel the working group for the academic plan took the revisions students made into account. “The vote shows students are not entirely happy with the plan,” Nazar said.
Provost David Graham presented the academic plan to the student union council on Oct. 26. He said at senate that he was “aghast” to learn council unanimously rejected the plan immediately after his departure and questioned whether the CSU had arranged the outcome of the vote before the meeting.
Hasan Cheikhzen, CSU VP academic, was responsible for inviting the provost to the council meeting and denied that the CSU “did not act in good faith.” Cheikhzen explained that no decisions were made prior to the provost’s presentation.
The provost later apologized for his emotional response, explaining that last year he had expressed the wish that the current student union be on board as part of the working group who formed the academic plan.
A few senators did feel the plan should be implemented but were worried by the lack of consensus from the students. Arts and science senator Rosemary Reilly said she was “not comfortable voting for a plan students are seemingly against.”
However, Noel Burke, dean of the School for Extended Learning, expressed his excitement for the plan and emphasized that “delaying the date only delays the plan.”
Graham agreed, stating “deferral is not an option at this point.”
The plan intends to expand Concordia’s research and graduate studies, provide additional library funding, develop new evaluations and restructure academic programs, among other measures. In an effort to make Concordia more competitive, the plan is looking to attract more grants, students and professors. The ultimate goal of the plan is for Concordia to be recognized as one of the top five comprehensive universities in Canada by 2016.
Senate also passed a motion recommending that the winter term begin no earlier than Jan. 4, 2012. However, because Senate does not actually have the responsibility of establishing the academic calendar, the start date for the winter 2012 semester will remain Jan. 3. President Frederick Lowy said that the concerns expressed would be taken into consideration when establishing the start dates of future winter semesters.
Correction: A previous version of this article contained inaccurate information regarding the start date of the winter 2012 semester.

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