Queen's University

Academic writing team town hall meeting brings new perspectives

Academic writing team members Kim Nossal, Jill Scott, Yolande Chan, Tim Bryant and Michael Adams (left to right) listen to comments from Queen's community members. Fellow team member John Smol was unable to attend the town hall meeting on August 17.

Members of the Queen’s community had another opportunity to share their views and ideas about the university’s future at a second town hall meeting held by the academic writing team August 17.

“You can’t be here in this room for an hour with these engaged people and not come out uplifted by what you hear,” says team member Jill Scott (German).

Much like the first meeting in July, many of the comments from the 45 participants — mainly staff and faculty — focused on the experience of undergraduate students in arts and science.

There was a discussion among several faculty members about the breadth and types of degrees that are offered. One professor said Queen’s is distinctive because the Faculty of Arts and Science offers hundreds of possible degree combinations, while others pointed out that program requirements can discourage interdisciplinary degrees and suggested that units simplify program demands. One professor felt that some complexity is necessary, but added that complexity has become an issue over the last 10 years because fewer courses are offered in some departments.

Town hall participants also talked about the Queen’s learning experience with one faculty member suggesting that an undergraduate education should provide students with a core set of skills regardless of discipline.

A student raised the issue of teaching and delivery of programs. She asked the team if it had looked at the methods of evaluating class instruction.

A professor said the university’s reputation for offering a strong undergraduate education has suffered because of provincial funding shortages. She suggested the university communities unite to lobby the Ontario government for more financial support.

Another town hall participant spoke in favour of ensuring more opportunities for support staff to participate in the academic planning process as it moves forward. A faculty member added that Queen’s should be known for administrative excellence. He encouraged the academic writing team to address in their report the quality and delivery of services that support the academic mission of the university.

Team members were once again impressed by the ideas and suggestions that were put forward.

“The Queen’s community shows such passion. Getting input as the academic planning process moves forward will not be a problem at all,” says Yolande Chan (School of Business).

The team will submit its recommendations to Principal Daniel Woolf by the end of the month. Senate will then take an active and enhanced role in developing the team’s proposals into a full plan over the fall and winter terms. Cross-campus discussions will be held and a student committee, led by the Rector and presidents of the Alma Mater Society and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students, will develop a student perspective on, and responses to, the proposals.

More information about the work of the academic writing team can be found on its website.

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Last updated at 10:07 am EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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