This Week at Faculty Council

Mount Allison’s faculty council advises the University Senate on policies related to terms of admission, requirements for degrees and authorization of degrees, along with any policies within the responsibilities of the President and the Board of Regents. This council is comprised of all professors teaching one full course (or two half-courses), professional librarians, directors and instructors of physical recreation and athletics, and senior administration members of the university. The chair of faculty council is the University President Robert Campbell. The following summary is from the Oct. 27, 2016 faculty council meeting.

Possible Changes to the Academic Computing Committee

There has been a proposal to make changes to the academic computing committee, which oversees every aspect of academic computing related to teaching, research and creative activity. This is part of a longer process of the committee’s restructuring, which will eventually be taken up by Senate. Right now, however, it is only in the discussion phase. Since the creation of Computing Services – Mt. A’s resource for help with technical issues ranging from campus printers to student email accounts –  the committee no longer serves administrative purposes, which may cause problems for faculty. Different faculty members require different software, and some believe that the academic computing committee needs to have a greater administrative role to reflect the needs of faculty members.

Restructuring of the  Graduate Studies Committee

The composition of the graduate studies committee (GSC) is under review in an attempt to disentangle policy-making from administrative responsibilities. Currently, the committee is mandated to make policies, not to do administrative work. In the last three years, however, the GSC has not presented any new policies to Senate, and the academic calendar has not been updated. In April 2016, a previous external review was conducted on the GSC, and it was suggested that the committee be replaced with a graduate program committee and a graduate operations committee. The departments found this suggestion to be onerous, so the goal is now to keep and restructure the GSC. This process is still under discussion and will eventually be brought to Senate.

Discussion of course withdrawal without penalty

Currently, under regulation 10.4.3 of the current academic calendar, students who wish to withdraw from a course after the cut-off date must submit an application to an academic dean for approval. Over time, the deans have seen an increase in the number of these requests. There is no official statistic, but the estimate presented at council showed an increase from half a dozen withdrawal requests per term to “dozens and dozens.” The majority of these withdrawal applications are due to health issues, personal issues and other general circumstances that are currently not being properly assessed by the University. As Vice-President Student and International Affairs Kim Meade said, “most of the cases that come to my attention for late withdrawals have been for serious mental health reasons.” Currently, academic deans are being asked to decide whether the responsibility to preside over such matters is appropriate, considering many deans’ minimal expertise in making decisions regarding students’ mental health.

Council discussed the possibility of moving the course withdrawal deadline to a date much later in the term, such as the last day of classes or the first day of exams – this is still up for discussion. In this model, there would still be an add-drop period of two weeks at the beginning of the semester. Students would have until the end of the semester to withdraw from a course and a “W” would appear on their transcript, but they would not be penalized academically. This model would allow students to decide whether or not they can complete a course rather than having to present personal issues, such as those related to students’ mental health, to a dean in order to withdraw. present personal issues, such as that of mental health, to a dean.

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