By Emma Graney
Course offerings will soon look a little different at the University of Regina, after the school’s senate voted to adopt a wide range of academic program changes at its Saturday meeting. On the table was the axing of nine programs, changes to seven and the addition of four new offerings or majors.
All were passed, though the longest discussion among senators centred on the bachelor of francophone studies — a program which has seen minimal enrolment, and no graduates, since it was introduced more than 12 years ago.
Barb Pollock, U of R spokeswoman, said she wasn’t surprised at the level of discussion surrounding the axing of the French program.
“There has been attention by the francophone community on things we do related to French on campus … so I think it would have been surprising if no one had raised an issue,” she said following the vote.
“Speaking for myself, I voted for the motion because we cannot afford to have a program so under-subscribed (and) we’ve got great opportunities to offer other programming in French.”
One hand that was raised against every program deletion, though, belonged to student senator Kent Peterson.
After the meeting, he told the Leader-Post he believed administration costs should be “cut to the bone” before academic programs are phased out.
“I think the changes made here are just the beginning of what we’re going to see and I think it’s a signal in the change of direction for this university … in terms of focusing on things that can get them private industry funding, such as engineering and business programs,” he said.
“This is a liberal arts university so … if it were me, I’d look at what we can do to make enrolments more robust in these programs. I don’t think they’ve done that thinking and I don’t think they’ve had that priority.” Student senator Bart Soroka, though, said he didn’t have any problem voting for some of the course deletions, especially those that “were just about making the books match reality.”
Soroka also voted for the closure of the bachelor of francophone studies, telling the Leader-Post he thinks there’s an opportunity for the U of R to funnel those resources into other program offerings.
“I don’t like having to get rid of programs, but … as long as the money saved stays within the university and is used to develop other programs that will be of interest to students, that can only make the institution stronger,” he said.
“I do think, though, that there needs to be a wider discussion about why programs like that have such low interest and why they’re in that situation in the first place.”
Another topic that garnered a lot of discussion among senators was possible changes to convocation.
In particular, those present discussed the possibility of a standard invocation — which was voted down by a huge majority, with senator Malcolm French commenting he would not like to see a “generic oatmeal” of an address.
Other changes, including the notion of each honorary doctoral candidate having the opportunity to speak in acknowledgment of their degree, will go back to convocation committee for further discussion.
Soroka said he would like to see student representation on committee, “because as senators said many times, convocation is about students, and it seems ridiculous that we don’t have that representation there.”
Pollock said the level of discussion goes to show that graduation ceremonies are “held near and dear” by the senate.
“We have a situation that’s a wonderful one — an extra 450 students to graduate through our nursing program,” Pollock said.
“If we want to be respectful of people’s time … we do need to tighten (convocation) up and not prolong it to something unsustainable.”
Pollock said she thinks the course changes voted for at Saturday’s meeting show the university is “dynamic and progressive,” though admitted there is concern about how much money the U of R will receive in the government’s March budget.
“We have a very serious and tough budget situation, and we’ve already been told … things are tight and that we’ll need to think about planning for a much smaller increase than we’d originally asked for,” she said.
“What we’re hoping to do is making this place as efficient and effective as we can. We’re hoping to take these cuts and make the least amount of impact, and make sure this university continues to offer the quality courses and education that it does now.” (Leader Post)