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The first Senate session of the new academic year ran smoothly. Dean of Engineering Gruzleski chaired in Principal Munroe-Blum's absence.
Student senators were concerned over the delay of opening of the Trottier Building, reserved for teaching (next Tuesday is the day classes start there). 740 Dr. Penfield is reserved primarily for research.
Student Senator Peters wanted to know where the new Arts buildings stand. Provost Luc Vinet reiterated that the university is committed to the new buildings, but won't start laying any bricks until all financing has been secured. The Eakin family has already dedicated $1,000,000 to phase two of the project, and McGill is applying to the Ministry of Education of Quebec (MEQ) for fifty percent of the total costs.
The Academic Policy and Planning Committee put forth new programs for Senate to approve. The Faculty of Arts now offers a minor concentration in Jewish Law. As well, there are now a variety of concentrations in Philosophy and Western Religion. This interdisciplinary program involves the Institute of Islamic Studies, the Departments of Jewish Studies and Philosophy, and the Faculty of Religious Studies.
Graduate students now have a new research progress report form to help document the agreement of research expectations between students and their supervisors. In response to concerns that the form's content would be gospel, Dean of Graduate Studies Martha Crago says that the records are meant to become a basis for discussion, and that everyone needs to keep an eye on the differences between guidelines ("shoulds") and requirements ("musts"). The forms also include a space for the students to note whether or not they are in agreement with what's been put down.
Deputy Provost and Chief Information Officer Tony Masi put forth his office's policy of email communication with students. Email is not to be used as the only official means of communication between McGill and its students, and caution must be exercised when the message includes sensitive information as no one can assume email is private. Upon registration, students receive an address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Morty Yalovsky says they're still adding it all up for the final numbers for 2002—2003, which should be done by mid-November. For 2003—2004, McGill expects a balanced budget, based on an operating revenue level of $404-million. Fifty-two percent of the operating budget comes from the MEQ. Yalovsky is looking at moving the budget from single-year to multiple-year plans.
Budgetary concerns raised by senators included increasing pay for course lecturers (this is up to the Faculties, Yalovsky said) and funding for large classrooms. Yalovsky said that Trottier has some new rooms, but no mega-spaces. In the MEQ's eyes, McGill is "over-classroomed." Provost Luc Vinet added that in terms of square footage, we have ample classrooms, but we're hurting for research space.