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Queen's University
 

University Secretariat

Internal Academic Review Committee
Report to Senate on the Reviews of the Department of Classics and the Faculty of Education

The Department of Classics and the Faculty of Education are the first two units to undergo internal academic reviews at Queen's. These units conducted their internal reviews and submitted their Unit Self Studies July 1, 1996; Review Teams and consultants conducted their reviews in the fall of 1996 and produced their reports in the early spring of 1997. The responses to the recommendations were submitted in the spring-summer of 1997.

Department of Classics

The Department of Classics currently has seven full-time faculty members (two female, five male), including two Assistant Professors, two Associate Professors, and three Professors. Undergraduate courses are offered in Greek and Latin language and literature (both in the original and in translation) as well as in Greek and Roman history, philosophy, and archaeology. The Department offers minor, medial, and major concentrations in Classical Studies, Greek, and Latin as well as a special field concentration in Classics. The Department also participates in interdepartmental special field concentrations in Language and Linguistics and in Mediaeval Studies. Undergraduate course enrolments currently total 1,000. The Department offers graduate instruction and opportunities for research in Greek and Latin literature, Greek and Roman history, ancient philosophy, and Greek archaeology in the framework of an M.A. program in Classics. Twelve graduate students are currently enrolled in the M.A. program.

Executive Summary of the Review Team

The general impression of the Classics Department among undergraduate and graduate students is extremely favourable; students appreciate the high quality of teaching in the Department, the availability of faculty for consultation, independent study, etc., and the variety of subjects and courses available. The members of the Department have largely maintained a steady rate of publication, including a fair number of articles and between one and three books each in the period reviewed. This rate is respectable and the quality of scholarship is generally high. There is a general perception among faculty in other departments, and in the Faculty of Arts and Science, that Classics is doing an exceptional job in difficult circumstances.

The recommendations arising from the review, some of which have already been acted on during the two-year IAR process, are as follows:

Recommendations from the Review Team and the Consultants

Replace the Roman historian scheduled to retire in 1997 with a specialist in the same field in order to maintain the Department's strength in its Roman component and demonstrate the Faculty's determination to maintain the vitality of the Classics tradition at Queen's. Explore alternative funding to continue the employment of the adjunct appointee in Ancient History whose teaching has been shared with History. Explore the possibility of adjunct teaching which would free regular faculty to increase course offerings in other areas with great student interest. Revise and streamline the undergraduate program: maintain and improve the "outreach" courses; streamline and rationalize the courses and requirements in the Classical Studies program; maintain a sufficient range of courses in the languages. Rethink the graduate program and the special needs of graduate students. Reconsider the Standards of Comparison used in the Internal Academic Review, and find out how comparable Classics departments have met similar challenges and problems. Increase collaboration with other departments: offer and cross list mutually beneficial courses, enter into collaborative ventures, increase intellectual interaction among faculty. Alleviate the difficulties that face members of the Department in their day-to-day activities, e.g. catalogue the slide collection, maintain a library (especially journal) collection suitable for research purposes, etc. Encourage faculty members to maintain and increase their research activities. Increase communication and collaboration among the Department's faculty, both through more regular Department meetings and through other professional and social events.

Recommendation from the Review Team

1. Find ways to allow incoming students to meet members of the Classics Department before they make their course choices.

Summary

The Classics Department has a long and proud history and continues to play a vital role in the life of the University. Standards of teaching and scholarship are high; there is a remarkable level of student satisfaction with the Department's offerings and the willingness of its faculty to undertake supervision of theses, individual reading courses, etc.; the Department also has a high reputation among faculty in related disciplines. The problems facing the Department are in part those which the University as a whole faces because of cutbacks in funding, etc.; those which are peculiar to Classics as a discipline are being addressed creatively through changes in the undergraduate and graduate curricula, and the faculty are very open to new ideas about other aspects of their programs, including cooperation with other departments. The Review Team shares the confidence of the Department and the external consultants that the problems can be solved within existing structures and staffing arrangements.

Responses from the Department and the Dean

  1. An appointment in Roman History has been made as of July 1, 1997.
  2. The Faculty values both the continuing contribution of the adjunct appointee in Ancient History and the spirit of collaboration between the Departments of Classics and History that has made it possible. The Faculty Office will attempt to facilitate that continued collaboration to the best of its ability.
  3. The Faculty Office will give due consideration within the limits of financial constraint to representations from the Department concerning the possibility of increased adjunct teaching.
  4. A review of the undergraduate curriculum was undertaken prior to the Internal Academic Review; the Department withheld final adjustments pending receipt of comments from the Review Team and consultants. It is expected that the resulting new curriculum will be implemented in 1998-99.
  5. An OCGS review at the graduate level is currently proceeding; the Faculty Office will assist in this process where possible.
  6. The Department acknowledged in its Unit Self Study that there is only one Department of Classics in Canada (at the University of Victoria) that is a close comparator in terms of size, complexity, and resources. The Department considers that it compares favourably in its efforts to meet similar challenges: indeed, changes recently introduced at the University of Victoria have been in place at Queen's for several years already. In naming its standards of comparison, the Department, going beyond similarities of size and resources, identified a particular mission statement rather than a specific department as the most appropriate comparator, and in these terms chose to be compared with the Departments of Classics at the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta.
  7. The Department currently participates in the programs in Language & Linguistics and Medieval Studies and has courses actively cross-listed with the Departments of Art, History, and Religious Studies. It will endeavour to revitalize existing but underused links with the Departments of Geography, Philosophy, and Sociology.
  8. Consultations have already taken place with the Department of Art regarding the possibility of electronic cataloguing of the extensive slide collection. The Department will explore the possibility of employing student assistants to assist in the development and maintenance of departmental collections.
  9. The Department strongly encourages the submission of applications for appropriate external research funding and will, for example, continue its existing policy of offering some limited degree of teaching relief, where possible, to colleagues engaged in preparing major research grant applications. Such relief normally takes the form either of a voluntary redistribution of teaching loads among faculty members or of a lighter teaching load in one term compensated for by a heavier load in another.
  10. The current departmental Workload Statement and the revised departmental Academic Development Plan both stress the importance of increased communication and collaboration among the Department's faculty members.

Response to the Review Team Recommendation

  1. By means of its promotional flier, which is currently included in the annual mailings of the Office of the University Registrar to incoming students and also distributed to almost 900 high schools, the Department will encourage students to consult with Classics faculty members as early as possible in the registration process.

Faculty of Education

The Queen's Faculty of Education has the third largest teacher education program in Ontario and one of the largest graduate programs (the program at OISE/UT is exceptionally large; of the other graduate programs, Queen's is one of the largest). Currently there are 38 full-time faculty members (15 female, 23 male) and 6.5 full-time renewable adjunct faculty members. Programs offered include the Bachelor of Education/Diploma in Education. The B.Ed. is offered either as a consecutive one-year program following completion of an undergraduate degree or as a concurrent program in which undergraduate courses leading to a B.A. or B.Sc. are taken at Queen's, Trent, or Waterloo. The Dip.Ed., available in Technological Education and Aboriginal Teacher Education, is only available as a consecutive-model program. There is a Master of Education program, and continuing education courses provide inservice education and professional development. Student enrolment for 1996-97 was as follows: Undergraduate full-time equivalents: 708.35 - degree; 60.9 - diploma, 293.9 - AQ. Graduate (M.Ed.) full-time equivalents - 89.3(fall '96).

Executive Summary of the Review Team

The academic review of the Faculty of Education comes at a strategic moment in its history. Under the leadership of Dean Rena Upitis, the Faculty has successfully embarked on what is a most impressive and important redevelopment effort. The initiatives involved in this process are the more significant because they are taking place in the midst of budgetary and staff reductions of great severity that would test the unity and morale of any academic unit.

We find that the Faculty has the necessary leadership, unity and strategic vision to complete the implementation of its new programs in undergraduate and graduate teaching and research. While the outlook is favourable, certain concerns remain to be addressed. These include particularly the following:

Recommendations and Observations

  1. The faculty is stretched thin. It is trying to do too many things and to serve too many constituencies; it needs to focus on a smaller number of priority goals and to seek more integration between programs to ensure the optimum use of resources.
  2. The faculty's level of achievement in research, while much strengthened in recent years, remains uneven.
  3. Proposed new appointments to replacement positions should follow completion of decisions regarding program priorities; a mix of entry-level and more senior (beginning associate) appointments is probably best; the staffing should be done methodically over a period of years.
  4. While students think well of the faculty and the quality of its programs, they have expressed concerns that need to be addressed, particularly a perceived lack of intellectual stimulation in the undergraduate programs and dissatisfaction with the state of the library and computing facilities.
  5. Investment in renovations of the faculty's space is recommended to increase flexibility concerning class sizes and the number of course offerings.
  6. The new B.Ed./Dip.Ed. program will require careful monitoring and involvement of external advice and assessment during implementation; care must be taken in particular that its intellectual and professional content meet the concerns expressed by students.
  7. The proposed Ph.D. program should proceed; as planned, it should be small and focused. More attention is needed to the role in the graduate program of the recent cross appointments; the new appointments to replacement positions will be critical to the success of this endeavour.
  8. The faculty's research effort should be closely integrated with the focus of the Ph.D. program. Collaborative research should be encouraged.

Conclusion

All members of the Review Team were impressed with the Faculty of Education's success in handling budget and staff reductions of a duration and severity that in a Faculty with less skillful leadership could easily have produced a disastrous collapse of unity and morale. Instead, the Review Team found an academic unit that is confident and substantially united in pursuing ambitious goals for renewal and major innovation in undergraduate and graduate education and research.

Responses from the Dean and the Vice-Principal (Academic)

  1. The results of the review provided the basis for granting approval to move forward with advertising academic positions in the Faculty. These replacement positions and a reduced final-year enrolment target both promise to lighten the load of faculty. As well, two program areas have been eliminated in the last two years, and the Faculty will continue to shape programs by eliminating areas of overlap and developing niche programs.
  2. Most of the recent appointments (in the past decade) have been very strong, and the new appointments are expected to further raise the research profile of the Faculty as a whole. As well, some mid-career faculty are now beginning to show strong signs of growth in this area. (It should be noted that a number of faculty were hired at a time when research was not seen as important in the Faculty of Education and these faculty members have now retired.)
  3. The recommendation that new appointments to replacement positions be tied directly to program plans rather than to existing positions is fully endorsed by the Dean. These replacement positions, strategically filled and utilized, have the potential to address several of the issues identified in the review, in particular faculty renewal, the research profile of the unit, and the faculty workload. While most of the appointments will be junior level, at least one or two will be more senior appointments. They will be made over a period of three years. Four replacement appointments were made in July, 1997; up to four positions are anticipated for July, 1998. At least two positions, including a joint appointment with the Faculty of Health Sciences, will be senior appointments.
  4. If the pilot results (1996-97) are indicative of what can be expected when the new program takes effect in August, 1997, then there is every reason to believe that the criticism of "a lack of intellectual stimulation" will no longer be warranted. With respect to the state of the library and computing facilities, the Dean has offered as much support as possible in this area and will continue to do so. The newly formed Teacher Resource Centre will improve library and computing facilities; this was achieved in partnership not only with three local area school boards but with Queen's Library Systems as well.
  5. Close to $200,000 has been committed by the Faculty of Education to renovations since the fall of 1995. The Faculty has funded these renovations through carry forward funds and from one-time salary savings associated with voluntary retirements.
  6. Research and evaluation projects, both internal and external, have been implemented to monitor the evolution of the new B.Ed./Dip.Ed. program. Questions about intellectual stimulation have been added to the QUEST course evaluations for all B.Ed., Dip.Ed., and M.Ed. courses so that this can be monitored more systematically. Recent evaluations indicate high levels of satisfaction (80%-90%) on this issue In 1997-98, the restructured B.Ed./Dip.Ed. program will be reviewed for accreditation by the Ontario College of Teachers. The Queen's Faculty of Education was one of three (out of 11) programs in the province selected for initial accreditation.
  7. The Vice-Principal (Academic) promoted the proposed Ph.D. program in SCAD and Senate, in keeping with the recommendation from the Review Team. The program was approved in April, 1997, and is now at OCGS for review. The first intake of Ph.D. students is expected in September, 1998.
  8. The new appointments to replacement positions in combination with the reduced enrolment will mean that faculty will have more manageable teaching loads which will, in turn, give them more time for research and more time for developing further synergy between teaching and research.

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