It is customary for the the Provost & Vice-President, Academic to provide a report to each meeting of Senate outlining plans, priorities, issues and other news. As these reports are already public through the University Secretariat Office, they will also be shared regularly through this memorandum page.
Note that appendices to the report can be found on the University Secretariat Office website.
Provost’s Report to Senate – March 24, 2021
As we mark one year since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, planning continues for a Fall term that will take place primarily on campus. As a result, I have begun consulting broadly on an administrative document that outlines potential scenarios for the Fall and highlights some key points in our planning. Thus far, I have discussed this document with Deans, Chair and Directors, with administrative leaders, as well as with BUSU and the GSA. I have met with union leaders on campus to hear their input as well. Senators will have received the document by email in February, along with an invitation to provide feedback. Finally, I have also led conversations about the document at a number of Senate committees, including USAC, SGSC and T&LPC.
The document outlines three scenarios:
- A ‘post-pandemic’ scenario, in which course delivery occurs primarily on campus, with the recognition that the experiences of the last year will lead some instructors to incorporate various models of online instruction into their courses;
- A midpoint scenario, in which some on-campus instruction is possible but public health measures require us to operate substantially online; and
- A lockdown scenario, in which instruction must take place almost entirely online, with a few exceptions for labs and other small courses with learning outcomes that cannot be met online.
Brock is preparing for Scenario 1, with Scenario 2 as a back-up should public health measures require it. Signifcantly, Brock’s preparations are in line with those of other Ontario universities, most of which have now announced their intention to return to campus in September. Through the Council of Ontario Universities’ Provost group, we have heard from a number of medical and public health experts who paint this as a realistic scenario now that the roll-out of vaccines has begun in earnest. COVID will still be a part of our lives. Indeed, it may never disappear. However, with most of the population at least partially vaccinated and with greater capacity in the health care system, the impact of the pandemic on our daily lives will be reduced. We will need to learn to go about our routines while living with what we all hope will be the greatly reduced risk of COVID.
I invite any further feedback on the administrative guidelines document as planning continues, both in discussion today and by email at email@example.com.
Strategic Enrolment Management
As the President has mentioned in his remarks, the pandemic will continue to impact the University’s budget through the next academic year. A significant return to campus in September should go a long way in helping to mitigate these impacts. Another important change will be to reflect more intentionally on strategic enrolment management.
To this end, I have refreshed the membership and terms of reference of Brock’s Strategic Enrolment Management Steering Committee, which will provide strategic direction and feedback on achieving the enrolment goals and objectives established in the Institutional Strategic Plan. The Committee will work closely with Deans, Associate Deans, Chairs and faculty members to set enrolment guidance and to discuss possible areas of high student demand for program expansion.
To begin the work of orienting the Committee and starting a conversation about strategic enrolment management at Brock, we welcomed on March 9 Dr. Jim Black, author of several seminal books on strategic enrolment management in the Canadian context, for an afternoon-long presentation. The talk was well attended by many who work in the enrolment area at Brock, including Chairs, Associate Deans and Deans. A copy of the recording of the talk is available from Janice Peacock in the Provost’s Office.
Launch of Chairs and Directors meeting series
In my continuing efforts to engage all levels of leadership at Brock, I launched in February what I hope will become a regular series of meetings with Chairs and Directors. The inaugural session provided updates on enrolment and budget projections, and included a discussion of ongoing planning for the Fall term. Finally, representatives from Human Resources were present to discuss professional development opportunities available to Chairs and Directors.
Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education
On March 1, I announced that Professor Suzanne Curtin would henceforth assume the title of Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Studies. While this does not change Professor Curtin’s duties and responsibilities or the term of her appointment, it is an important change that demonstrates Brock’s continuing commitment to growing the profile of graduate studies at the institution. This change in title was made following consultation with Senate and with the Senior Administrators’ Committee. I would like to thank both groups for their feedback.
The recommendation to create a Vice-Provost responsible for graduate education was outlined in the 2018 external review of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, which was presented to the Senate Committee on Graduate Studies and to Senate proper in November 2018. While the dual role is not currently common at Brock, there is precedent for it, with Professor Jack Miller appointed Associate Vice-President, Research and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies in 2005. Dual roles are also common at other universities, especially in the graduate file.
Re-appointments of the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and of the University Librarian
In this same vein, I would like to announce the re-appointment of Professor Carol Merriam as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and of Mark Robertson as University Librarian, each for five-year terms effective July 1, 2021. Both Carol and Mark have been calm and steadying forces throughout the many challenges of the last year, and I look forward to working with both of them through the COVID recovery period.
These re-appointments were conducted in accordance with section 4 of the Faculty Handbook. As such, I would like to thank all those who served on the Advisory Committees and those who took the time to engage with the consultation process, including faculty members and Chairs in the Faculty of Humanities, professional librarians serving on the Library Council, members of the Senior Administrators’ Council, and Senators.
Learning Management System Resource Selection Team
Work continues under section 3.C.5 of the Faculty Handbook to consider the need for a new learning management system to replace the ageing SAKAI. The experiences of faculty members with online instruction over the last year have highlighted the benefits of a LMS upgrade, especially if we expect that some departments will choose for program and pedagogical reasons to continue with at least some level of online instruction going forward.
At the February 9 meeting of IT&I, Professor Madelyn Law reported on the work done under FHB 3.C.5.5 to consult with faculty members on the need for a new system. IT&I passed a motion to this effect, which should be coming for Senate approval at today’s meeting.
The next step of the process under FHB 3.C.5.6 involves the creation of a resource selection team to investigate Brock’s specific needs for a new system, including desired capabilities and other such details.
Amendments to FHB 3.C.15 on the program viability review process
As I have reported in previous meetings, the program viability review process is currently being led under FHB section 3.C.15 for the first time since this language was included. In doing so, certain logistical challenges have been identified that require adjustment to the language in the Faculty Handbook. My understanding is that this section of the Handbook does not currently fall within the purview of any specific Senate committee, and that as a result these changes should come directly to Senate. I am including them below. I would further ask Governance Committee to consider whether the assignment of this section to a specific committee might be appropriate going forward.
I would like to thank Professor Savage for helping to identify some of the inconsistencies being addressed with the changes below, and for being a helpful and insightful interlocutor throughout the revision process.
MOTION: (Wells/ )
That the following amendments to FHB 3:C.15 be approved. (highlight indicates insertion, strike-out indicates deletion):
- Change to FHB 15.1.2, clarifying that Senate (rather than ARC alone) has final approval authority regarding program discontinuation
15.1.2 Each year, with the release of the November 1 enrolment data, the Provost will report to Senate the list of programs identified to undergo a viability review. The program will be asked by the Provost to submit a report to the Provostial Committee addressing the viability criteria. Upon consideration of the report, the Provostial Committee will make a recommendation to ARC on whether to discontinue the program. If ARC and Senate approves a recommendation to discontinue the program, the program will submit a termination plan to ARC (IQAP 6.1).
- Addition to FHB 15.1 to exclude certificates and micro-certificates from the program viability review process
15.1.7 Certificates and micro-certificates shall be excluded from the program viability review process. [NEW]
Professor Lynn Wells
Provost & Vice-President, Academic