McGill, News

Senate delays approval on Research and IT Resource policies

The McGill University Senate met for the second time this calendar year on Wednesday to address two policies awaiting approval by its members.

Acting as the Senate’s chair, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum spoke about her recent trip to India in her opening remarks. The delegation from Quebec, composed of 130 members, worked to strengthen ties with Indian partners in business, education, and research.

“It was a great collaborative effort,” said Munroe-Blum, adding that her trip provided a “terrific opportunity for McGill to represent Quebec.”

In India, Munroe-Blum reached out to the country’s alumni and met with scholars currently engaged in scientific partnerships with McGill.

Munroe-Blum also discussed the move to a self-funded tuition model in the master of business administration program in the Desautels faculty of management. She observed that the old model had posed serious financial problems to the faculty and the school, and that the move to the new model would ensure quality and equity for graduate students. In her remarks, Munroe-Blum said that the implementation of the model for next fall “has opened a broad discourse on the funding of universities in Quebec.”

Finally, Munroe-Blum applauded the 13 current and former McGill students competing in this year’s Winter Olympics.

The Regulation on the Conduct of Research was originally slated for approval by the Senate, but due to administrative complications, no action could be taken during the meeting. The policy had been drafted to set regulations on the conduct of research and replace the Policy on Research Ethics and the Regulations on Research Policy, but it has garnered attention due the issue of military research.

Two administrators, William Foster and Rima Rozen, presented the final document. Foster spoke positively of the updated document but stressed the urgency of its approval.

“The policy is ready to be adopted … and we need this to be enforced as soon as possible,” Foster said.

While senators generally agreed with the substantial improvements to the policy, some did voice reservations. Arts Senator Sarah Woolf expressed concern for the lack of specificity of the ethical standards asked of researchers.

“It seems to me [that] the revised version does not provide a definition of what the ethical standard will be,” Woolf said.

The approval of a policy on the responsible use of McGill IT resources was also delayed due to administrative error. The proposed policy was crafted in response to many changes that have accompanied the evolution of information technology, which are not properly addressed by the current policy. Provost Anthony Masi motioned for another discussion prior approval of the policy at the next Senate meeting. Senators voiced their general praise of the document in-progress and offered friendly amendments. The policy will return to the Academic Planning Committee before it is presented to the Senate once again.

During the Academic Policy Committee report, Senate approved a new teaching program for the master of arts in teaching and learning in the Faculty of Education. The 60-credit program was created in response to a shortage of certified teachers in five targeted subject areas noted in a request made by the Ministry of Education, Leisure, and Sport. The proposed program will be offered to part-time students with an undergraduate degree or equivalent, and its implementation is subject to final approval by the Ministry.

Senator Don MacLean, dean of the Faculty of Music, also commented on the reforms approved last month by the APC for the undergraduate curriculum at the Schulich School of Music, which take effect in September 2010. The changes include defining a core curriculum for all music undergraduates and creating more opportunities for students to specialize.

“We have done something controversial, which has been to eliminate the honours program,” MacLean said. He explained that this would allow undergraduates to specialize both within their major program and in others.

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