The UNB Academic Plan and the composition of the search committee for UNB’s next president were some of the bigger points of discussion at Tuesday’s Fredericton senate meeting.
This bi-campus Academic Plan, which will help to shape UNB’s strategic plan, is meant to determine the priorities of the university and its future goals, including budgeting, resources, funding and investing. At a town hall meeting on Sept. 27, many members of the UNB community felt that the academic planning process was being rushed, and that more consultation time was needed.
Referring to an email sent to the UNB community last week, UNB vice-president academic, George MacLean, pointed out at the senate meeting that the consultation period, originally slated to end on Oct. 4, has been pushed to Oct. 27.
With the new timeline, the Academic Plan will be presented to the Fredericton and Saint John senates on Nov. 20 and 21. The final planning document will be presented to the Board of Governors on Dec. 4.
MacLean also said that there would be two consultation meetings with the deans and chairs in response to concerns brought up at the town hall meeting and in previous feedback.
However, many senators weren’t happy with this new arrangement and said that they wanted the process to have more back and forth conversation between the UNB community and the academic planning committee.
Senator and acting dean of science Gary Saunders said that the sciences and arts faculties were hoping for more back and forth conversation, rather than more town hall type events, which he felt was not “real” consultation.
Other senators were concerned that the Academic Plan was something that the university would be locked into for the next few years, a concerning issue for faculties that don’t see much representation in the document.
Senator Viqar Husain raised the concern that the Academic Plan is a long term plan, but short term issues will change from year to year. “Am I getting locked into something?” he said.
Paula Kristmanson, a senator from the faculty of education, expressed her concern for faculties who “barely see themselves in the document.” She added that it was hard to tell how the Board of Governors would see it when it came to making decisions on financing and resources.
“It’s worrisome that people will make big decisions off [the Academic Plan] when [certain faculties] don’t see themselves in it,” Kristmanson said.
MacLean assured the senate that the Academic Plan is being presented to the Board as a process, with the purpose to assist the Board in discussions on budgeting, resources, funding and investing, as well as providing flexibility in a year to year approach.
“The Board recognizes that this isn’t a plan full stop,” MacLean said. “The idea of locking ourselves in…would be opposite to what the university is.”
MacLean also said that the introduction of the Academic Plan took efforts to describe UNB as a comprehensive university, and therefore covers all faculties. Other faculties may have more focus, but “people shouldn’t feel excluded,” he said.
Concerns about composition of president search committee raised
UNB’s nominating committee is looking for nominations for the president search committee. UNB president Eddy Campbell will be ending his term at UNB in 2019.
Vice-president academic George MacLean said that the nominating committee requested that members of the senate express their interest with a 250 word essay explaining why they should be considered.
Student senator Chris McGinn said that having a student sit on the search committee was recognized by the nominating committee. However, according to the UNB Act, students are not included in the composition of the president search committee.
Section 19(3) of the UNB Act says that the joint nominating committee for the office of the president will consist of “three members of the Board, appointed by the Board, two members of the Fredericton Senate, appointed by the Fredericton Senate and one member of the Saint John Senate, appointed by the Saint John Senate.”
This means that the only way a student can be a part of the search committee is if the student is also on the Board or the senate.
MacLean confirmed that one of the senators chosen for the search committee could be a student. But senator Christa Canitz said that senate faculty would not have enough of a voice if a student was one of the two selected.
The UNB Act would have to be changed in order to have students as their own section of the search committee. One solution that was brought up was that students could be allowed to sit on the committee as non-voting members, but this would limit the student voice as they would have no vote.