Senate: Space, safety and staff renewal

Senate: Space, safety and staff renewal McGill University

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McGill Reporter
February 24, 2005 - Volume 37 Number 11
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Home > McGill Reporter > Volume 37: 2004-2005 > February 24, 2005 > Senate: Space, safety and staff renewal

Senate: Space, safety and staff renewal

Space and how to use it was a concern at the February 16 Senate meeting, presided over by Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Deborah Buszard. Vice-Principal (administration and finance) Morty Yalovsky fielded questions about the Report on Health and Safety and related issues.

Senator Robaire asked about access to space, and the difficulty of booking rooms. Yalovsky replied that he and deputy Provost Tony Masi are working on a e-procurement system in which people can request space for events by using web tools.

Senator Andrew Kirk said graduate students should not only be informed about safety procedures, but also be told why regulations exist. The university has a responsibility to teach them to question the reasons why. This means not to just say: "Don't look into the laser," Kirk said, "but to tell them what the dangerous levels are."

Senator Joffrey wanted assurance that new buildings would have windows that can be opened, given that ventilation may not always be powerful enough for clean air requirements. Yalovsky said that this is not always possible. For instance, building design must take into account the particular needs of some labs for either positive or negative air pressure.

The expense of new equipment and other one-shot costs prompted senator Noumoff to ask if McGill would be "ravishing other budgets to pay for it?" Yalovsky said that ravishment was not the school's intention, and the money would come from deferred maintence funds.

The March 23 senate will see the report of the Dining at McGill committee. Yalovsky will not take action upon the report until there has been a full discussion at Senate.

Provost Luc Vinet gave a scaled-down presentation of one he gave the Board of Governors recently on the recruitment renewal at McGill. The three Rs at this school are "recruiting, rewarding, and retraining," he said.

He recapped the situation: in the early '90s, funding was relatively easy, and McGill reached a peak of 1450 professors. But then, as a result of budget cuts and attrition, by 1999 the university was down to 1250. The hires of the '60s were retiring, some faculty were resigning, and there was also a need to rejuvenate the professoriate. To rectify this, McGill aimed to hire an average of 100 professors a year from 2000 to 2010. This year marks the half way point, a good time to see how the process is going.

From 2000 to 2004, McGill hired 513 new faculty. Of these, 310 were Canadians, 83 from the States, 120 from elsewhere. When the numbers were broken down in terms of the country of PhD, though, 192 were from Canada, 173 from the US, 148, from elsewhere; a clear sign that McGill is repatriating Canadians who studied abroad. By gender, only 33.5 percent of new hires are women. Including these new hires, the total of women professoriate at McGill is 26 percent. Better than before, but "an area we need to work on," Vinet said.

So we're on target for amount of hires. And it turns out that "we overestimated the resignation, which is a good thing," Vinet said, although they were "completely off" in their estimates of retirement rates. McGill professoriate like to hang on to the academic life. Though the average retirement age is 67, every year the age seems to go up by a year. But as Vinet said, "sooner or later age catches up and then it will come like thunder."

Dean Shaver mused that this lingering work habit could be in part due to the disruption of the stock markets, something he's sure the model didn't originally take into consideration.

Senator Acheson pointed out that a slower retirement could be a blessing because of the help the established professors can give younger ones.

Vinet said that linking senior staff with recruits could help bring out the natural talents of the newbies. The priorities for 2005 and beyond include both giving a role to senior staff (like mentoring, coaching), and nudging along imminent retirements. Regulation is another R to be heeded. "A staff member granted tenure shall maintain the high standards for which it was granted," Vinet said. There's also effort to enhance services for professors. Integration and retention are priorities, such as the facilitation of spousal placement, and helping out with housing, daycare and schooling referrals, and relocation.

Senators voiced concern over how integration was faring. Senator Robaire wondered if a policy on spousal hiring would be put into place ("we're considering it," Vinet said) and he also wondered about the number of part-timers and how they're being taken into account (an area that needs focus, Vinet agreed).

Many senators wanted to know about daycare. Senator Elborne said that, anecdotally at least, finding daycare space is a huge problem, and she would like to know how many new hires with pre-school kids were able to find daycare space within their first year here.

Associate provost (academic staff) Hudson Meadwell addressed this one. A survey of deans and chairs showed that daycare is indeed one of the core issues in retention.

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