Arts & Science focuses on challenges 

By Laurie Zack

If the last decade at Concordia was characterized by success through growth, the next decade will be about quality, according to David Graham.

The Dean of Arts and Science made a presentation to the Board of Governors meeting on Oct. 18 in which he defined quality in the faculty as adding maximum value to the lives of students through teaching, mentoring and advising; returning maximum value to the community through research; and rewarding excellence.

The faculty has already reached its growth target set for 2010-11 of 13,500 FTEs; the FTE count for 2006-07 was 13,600. The student/faculty ratio, however, is presently 31:1, well above the target ratio of 27:1. Faculty recruitment is a priority.

“We are extremely pleased with the faculty members we have recruited. They compare with the best anywhere,” Graham said. “However, although 31 new tenure-track professors have been hired this year, the net gain is only 14 because of deaths (two), retirements (six), resignations (six) and non-renewals (three).”

While this is not exceptional, it points to the reality of an aging faculty contingent. More than one professor in 10 is over 65.

“We are concerned about class size and assuring future leadership for the faculty,” Graham said. “Our leadership usually comes from mid-career faculty members and this is a diminished cohort at the moment. However, we see tremendous potential in our recent hires.”

Exceeding research targets

Research funding continues to exceed targets. Faculty research funding from federal and provincial agencies more than doubled between 2004-05 and 2006-07, from $5 million to over $10 million, and is projected to grow annually by 15 per cent in the years to come. A striking example is the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Researchers from the faculty achieved the highest success rates in Canada (42 per cent) for a non-medical faculty in the 2006 fall competition.

A realistic faculty goal is to increase the proportion of graduate students to between 12 and 15 per cent. There has been a steady rise in graduate studies in the faculty at both the Master’s and PhD levels. There were 25 Master’s programs in 1997; there are now 31. Likewise, PhD programs jumped from 11 to 16 in the same period. Since 1995, 59 programs have been closed, mostly at the undergraduate level.

A reflection of this development of graduate studies in the faculty is the vitality of student research and successful programs like the “Bus 55 Project” completed by students in history. (The Journal, June 14, 2007) The faculty also inaugurated an Undergraduate Research Day.


The budget situation is serious. The faculty has been hit hard by changes in the provincial funding formula. When over 90 per cent of the budget goes to salaries and benefits, there is little room for manoeuvering. Even after more than $600,000 was cut from expenditures in 2006-07, balancing the 2007-08 budget will be a major challenge.

A key will be close monitoring of course offerings. The goal is to allocate more resources to growth areas, while maintaining the commitment to reducing average class size. Planned and selective growth is the way Dean Graham described it.

Lastly, the faculty has to continue to get the word out about its achievements. “We need to build our national profile,” he said. “We should be recognized as one of Canada’s top faculties of arts and science.”


Concordia University