Fine Arts Faculty, Libraries plan for the future 

The Board of Governors heard reports on the growth and challenges facing both the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Libraries at its Jan. 22 meeting.

“We have a longstanding reputation as one of Canada’s foremost environments for the study and creation of fine arts,” began Fine Arts Dean Catherine Wild, “but our future depends on how well we continue to recruit the best students and faculty and sustain and improve the quality of their environment in order to retain them.”

Attracting the next generation of students, faculty renewal, consolidating Fine Arts downtown and managing resources and services responsibly in support of those goals were the major challenges she outlined for the faculty.

Although undergraduate and graduate enrolment is at or near capacity, establishing guaranteed levels of graduate funding for the best students is the biggest recruitment challenge going forward. Across the country, new programs are in development and many offer better graduate student support.

Faculty-wise, Fine Arts successfully attracted 10 top-notch new faculty members in 2008 and the search is on for seven more tenure-track positions. However, 63 of the 114 current full-time faculty are eligible to retire within a decade. Part-time faculty also play an important role in the curriculum teaching about 58% of courses.

With a balanced budget and strong community engagement, Fine Arts is optimistic about maintaining its leadership role in Canadian art education.

Gerald Beasley has only been at Concordia since July, but he was very forthright about what attracted him to Concordia.

“I think a library’s greatness should be measured by how effectively it supports the university’s mission. We have an opportunity to outperform the field in this respect.”

He said what makes the Concordia library system great is not just what is put into it; it is what our students get out of it.

Beasley explained that although students can access an increasing number of services online, the Libraries recorded a staggering 1.9 million on-site visits last year from users seeking everything from help navigating a database to attending one of several hundred workshops that faculty librarians offer every year.

Beasley remarked that libraries should be seen as centres for sustainable resource sharing, helping both students and the university in the face of their respective financial challenges. Helping students, for example, by providing free laptop loans and helping the university by making space available for exhibitions, meetings and events.

Challenges facing the Libraries are the lack of downtown study space and ongoing collection development. Beasley has been looking at the possibility of using one or two extra floors in the McConnell Building and an offsite storage area for books and journals. Despite these challenges, Beasley was optimistic about the role the libraries would be playing in the Strategic Planning process.


Concordia University