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The only thing more red than the blooming campus begonias on April 30 was Derek Drummond's face, as Senate showered the outgoing VP Development and Alumni Relations with flowery praise. The plaudits were a highlight in a relatively quick session that covered appointment forms, some announcements of new faces and double whammy Committee on Student Discipline reports.
As usual, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum opened the session with an update on the activities of her office and upper administration. First on her agenda was a quick update on the TA strike.
"We are engaged fully on this -- you'll notice a sparseness of our colleagues who are even now working on this," she said, referring to the absence of several upper-level administrators.
The recent outbreak of SARS in Toronto and parts of Asia has caused concern here. Munroe-Blum informed Senate that a university committee has been struck to monitor the situation here. Information on McGill's response to coping with the spread of SARS can be found on the McGill Gateway website.
The recent provincial election led to a changing of the guard in Quebec City. The new cabinet will contain ten McGill alumni, although Munroe-Blum said it is hard to tell what the university's relationship with the new administration will be like.
"We've been in communication with the new government from the first moment," she said.
The principal had news to share from her own office as well. The position of VP Information Systems and Technology has been folded into a new office: Chief Information Officer in charge of planning and information technology. He also gains the title of Deputy Provost.
Also, the principal announced that Carman Miller's replacement as Dean of Arts will be John Hall, a James McGill professor of sociology. His five-year term will begin June 1.
Question period began with a query from the administration staff senators. Frances Ezzy-Jorgenson wanted to know when and if the remaining recommendations from the 2001 Appointment Form Working Group report would be implemented. Ezzy-Jorgenson pointed out that the process still has much room for improvement in efficiency.
VP Morty Yalovsky assured her that Banner is in fact ameliorating many of the problems identified with the appointment process. The Student Information System has proven adaptable to human resources needs. Many forms are available on the human resources website.
After the questions, Heather Munroe-Blum took the unusual step of proposing a motion from the floor to laud Drummond who is leaving his position of VP Development and Alumni Relations. Over Drummonds protests, Munroe-Blum complimented him on his efforts in a difficult portfolio.
"You have created a legacy that will serve McGill for decades to come," she said. Her sentiments were echoed by Senators Honora Shaughnessy and Ian McLachlin. Shaughnessy, who worked with Drummond as Executive Director, Alumni Relations, told Senate "As a boss he was never quick to judge and always had time to listen. His warmth and personal style of management allowed us all to grow, to learn to disagree with a smile, and to practice the fine art of compromise."
After briefly going into confidential session to discuss honorary degree nominees, Senate heard a report from Bruce Shore from the student discipline committee for the years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. Two years worth of reports were submitted because compiling the reports required a time consuming process of accessing confidential information.
The numbers have risen dramatically since the 1998-1999 school year -- from about 100 incidents to 133 in the last year. There's no need to worry about Fox TV crews making a "McGill Students Gone Wild" reality show. Shore said the increase in numbers is due less to an increase in bad behavior and more to do with changes in the regulations that allow for greater discretion for faculty disciplinary officers to make judgments.
Senator Bernard Robaire wanted to know if McGill was considering using software currently being used by other institutions to catch plagiarism. They are working on a trial run, said Shore, adding that he prefers a preventative approach.
"The problem with these software programs is that they presume guilt before we have any evidence of it," he said.
Senator Gerald Ross said that in his experience, students from other cultures often don't have the same concepts of intellectual property as we do. He asked if it were possible to instruct new students during orientation. Shore replied that this was already done, but that a message at the beginning of the year was less effective than throughout the year in the classroom.
"This is something I really want us in our teaching to emphasize," he said.