Senate approves strategic plan 

By Karen Herland

At their last meeting of the academic year, senators had a lot of business to attend to before their summer break. First up was a final look at the newly minted Strategic Plan, set for approval by the Board of Governors later this month.

Judith Woodsworth began her first year at Concordia as President with the mandate to establish a strategic direction for the university. After an extensive consultation process that included open meetings, World Cafés, a trio of specially constituted Presidential Panels, and hundreds of individual comments, Reaching Up, Reaching Out charts the university’s course for the next five years.

Woodsworth introduced the document by highlighting how comments made by Senate members at the April meeting had been integrated. She concluded by saying that with Board approval the process can move into its next phase. “This summer, the rubber hits the road. In the fall we will elaborate implementation plans that we can put into action early next year.”

Notwithstanding a few suggested minor refinements senators received the 30-page document very favourably and approved it unanimously. “This plan lays out in a realistic manner what we can hope to aspire to,” said Peter Stoett, of political science. His views were echoed by a number of senators including Martin Pugh, of mechanical and industrial engineering who added his “congratulations on a document that was endless in terms of input.”

Senators also received an overview of the proposed 2009-10 budget from Woodsworth and Vice-President, Finance, Larry English. The Board will be presented with the budget at its next meeting. The bottom line of the proposed budget projects a deficit of about $5.1 million, far below earlier estimates.

Woodsworth explained decisions to invest in academic quality and enhancing student experience were defined by the strategic planning exercise. The university is committed to maintaining a positive hiring rate for faculty members and settling collective agreements fairly. Funds have also been set aside to realize some aspects of the strategic plan.

However, the single biggest additional expense is a one-time decision to maintain the 5% payout from endowments that supports student scholarships and bursaries, as well as research and teaching despite the toll that the economic climate has taken on our foundation’s resources. The university has decided to shoulder the impact of that decrease in revenue through the operating budget this year, instead of passing it on to students and professors.

On the other side of the equation, potential savings have been identified. Woodsworth and her team carefully evaluated hiring in the non-academic sector, decreased reliance on rented facilities and eliminated tuition payments via credit cards. The fees on the latter system cost the university close to $1 million annually. A 1% cut across administrative sector budgets was also implemented.

Finally revenues will be increased with a projected enrolment increase equivalent to 500 full-time students. International student fees in certain sectors will also be increased, with a quarter of the revenues generated allocated to bursaries.

The meeting also saw senators approve a standardized framework for course outlines that can be adapted across Faculties.

The meeting ended with a renewal of Donald Boisvert’s mandate as Speaker of Senate.


Concordia University