Board of Trustees, Senate in brief
Queen’s Board of Trustees met on September 23 and the University Senate met on September 27. Here are highlights from those governance meetings:
Board of Trustees in brief
Board chair Bill Young congratulated Chancellor David Dodge who recently received the Vanier Medal from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada for his contributions to Canadian public service.
Principal Daniel Woolf reviewed what’s been accomplished over his first two years in the position and presented immediate and long-term goals for the remaining three years of his first term. He noted that an all new senior administrative team has been hired. The provostial model has allowed him to focus more on strategy and vision for the university, external relations and Advancement-related activities. Principal Woolf said the introduction of integrated planning means the various parts of the university are learning to move more in tandem to ensure decisions are made with all of the required information and with a long-term lens.
Principal Woolf touched on some university priorities for this academic year including:
• Advancing student mental health and wellness, including the recently announced Principal’s Commission on Mental Health;
• Reaching agreements at the bargaining table with four employee groups;
• Finalizing and implementing the academic plan;
• Completing the Strategic Research Plan;
• Preparing for the upcoming campaign.
He outlined two long-term goals for the university: finding a financially sustainable model for the future and capitalizing strategically on the university’s competitive strengths and making them better known.
Principal Woolf’s full report can be read online.
In his oral report to the Board, Provost Alan Harrison provided a budget update. He said considerable progress has been made toward balancing the 2012-13 budget but work still needs to be done to eliminate the forecasted $6.3-million budget deficit and the $8.6-million deficit related to increased pension costs. Provost Harrison also noted that external factors could impact the budget including the volatility of the bond market and possible changes to the tuition framework following the provincial election this fall.
Provost Harrison ruled out across-the-board operating budget cuts. Rather, the 2012-13 operating budget will remain unchanged from 2011-12 and there will be no revenue sharing. All units will be responsible for wage and benefit increases.
Provost Harrison said a new budget model will be introduced after 2012-13. This year all units will be asked to submit one-year budget scenarios instead of the typical three-year scenarios.
In response to a trustee question, Provost Harrison explained that recent labour agreements have ensured that the university can defer its first pension solvency payment until 2015. In the meantime, solvency interest payments will continue. The exact amount will depend on the legislated valuation that took place August 31, 2011. This valuation did not come at the best time because interest rates are at an all-time low, which means a greater amount of money needs to be set aside for each member of the plan.
Provost Harrison also noted his recent visit to the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). After meeting with recently appointed director Bruce Stanley and hearing about the original vision for the BISC, Provost Harrison said the BISC has the potential to form the cornerstone of the university’s international strategy.
Alma Mater Society (AMS) president Morgan Campbell said the orientation week concert, which returned to campus this year, was a success and there were no incidents or injuries. She also updated Board about the AMS’ communications strategy aimed at encouraging students to avoid street parties over the fall so that homecoming can eventually return. The AMS will continue to educate students about safety and their responsibilities. The AMS has recently renamed the area around Queen’s the University District and continues to remind students that they are residents of Kingston as well.
Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) president Jillian Burford-Grinnell discussed the recent efforts of some Queen’s students to raise funds for an international law student. She said the SGPS remains committed to supporting international students, and the fundraising campaign by the students exemplified Queen’s “spirit of initiative.”
History made with Theological College merger
The Board of Trustees unanimously ratified the merger agreement between Queen’s University and Queen’s Theological College – renamed the Queen’s School of Religion in 2009. The merger takes effect on May 1, 2012, 100 years after the College became a separate entity from the university.
The Board ratified the following motions:
• The Pension committee recommends that the Board of Trustees amend the Revised Pension Plan of Queen’s University to reflect the schedule of contribution rate increases negotiated in the respective CUPE and QUFA collective agreements and effective beginning January 1, 2012;
• The Pension Committee recommends that the Board of Trustees adopt in principle the suite of technical changes to the Revised Pension Plan of Queen’s University as set out in the respective CUPE and QUFA memoranda of agreement and effective September 1, 2012 that are designed to both enhance the Plan’s long-term sustainability and meet the metrics of the province’s solvency relief program; and
• The Pension Committee recommends that the Board of Trustees authorize the University administration take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to apply the total package of plan changes negotiated in the QUFA memorandum of agreement uniformly to all plan members.
Board approved the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2011.
Senate in brief
In his report to Senate, Principal Woolf encouraged everyone to vote in the provincial election on October 6, and congratulated the AMS and SGPS for their campaigns to encourage students to vote. He noted that the provincial government is the university’s biggest funder and that post-secondary education has been quite central in the campaign.
The principal also thanked members of the Senate Academic Planning Task Force for the time and thought they've put into the drafting of an academic plan.
Principal Woolf noted that the university continues to operate at a deficit and has a clear mandate from the Board of Trustees to balance the budget by 2012-2013. He said that the university will have to work hard as a community to chart its course, and asked senators to be vigorous and imaginative in upcoming discussions.
Provost Alan Harrison provided a written update to Senate.
He also noted that he will be meeting with as many members of the Queen’s community as possible, including faculty members, staff and students, as quickly as he can, and has asked deans for advice on how best to do this.
The provost also noted that he recently made presentations to both the Board of Trustees Finance Committee and the Board of Trustees about the budget. He said he is in the early stages of building a new budget model, which will be a consultative process involving many members of the university community.
Senate passed a motion to amend the composition of senate on an interim basis to include the deputy provost.
Senate Academic Planning Task Force (SAPTF)
Professor Peter Taylor, head of the SAPTF, led a discussion on the group’s draft academic plan, which is posted to the SAPTF website. Dr. Taylor noted that the group is looking for comments through the website over the next few weeks and will then produce a more complete report. He said that the task force’s document aims to identify the university’s strengths and weaknesses while focusing on the importance of the student learning experience. There are 89 recommendations, but he says some will be more applicable in certain disciplines than in others, so the language should be at a high enough level to incorporate these differences.
Much of the discussion centred on the recommendations, and if/how they would be implemented. The SAPTF noted that many recommendations include pilot projects and further consultation, and that senate would not be asked to pass individual recommendations, but rather asked to pass a motion that accepts a broader view of the ideas in the report. Some senators expressed concerns that the report is currently too undergraduate-centric, and should also address graduate and professional students and the research enterprise.
To see the senate agenda as well as the appendices, visit the University Secretariat’s website.