Senate meets for final term

Campus News

It was a quick and efficient end to the term on Friday as the UVic Senate passed a number of motions, including the approval to implement a MA program in Germanic and Slavic Studies in either Germanic or Slavic streams, subject to funding.

Before that, however, Vice President Research David Castle provided an update on the Strategic Research Plan. Castle stated that a draft would be put together this summer, and briefed the Senate on efforts made in April to consult the greater UVic community. A survey was sent to over 6 500 staff, faculty, and grad students, says Castle, and of those surveyed, 1 300 responded.

Some key messages emerged from those responses, Castle said, with the first being that graduate students are significant contributors to UVic’s research excellence, and their experience could be enhanced with increased resources — particularly UVic’s Indigenous research streams. Castle also noted a general desire for the university to be “more nimble” with emerging and tracking research opportunities, with a call for more discretionary funding to seed new research initiatives. This suggests that people may see opportunities in their environment that are “short-fused” by the slow funding approval process for research.

Castle concluded that they are on track to present a draft plan to the Senate in October.

President Jamie Cassels discussed the implications of the federal budget put forth in April, stating that substantial funding for students through the Mitacs internship program and $45 million in funding for the TRIUMF Particle Facility would be beneficial to UVic students and community at large. Cassels admitted that the university didn’t quite get everything they needed, but “compared to other sectors, we did okay.” He stressed that there is more support needed for Aboriginal students and international student mobility and activities.

The Senate Committee on Academic Standards assembled a subcommittee in 2014 to investigate “whether there was a need for guidelines on the use of editorial services by students at the university.” Associate Dean of Academic and Student Relations Heather Raven spoke on behalf of the committee, asking the Senate for “guidance on how to proceed with concerns brought forth.”

The subcommittee “consulted four stakeholder groups,” including undergraduate and graduate students, Writing Centre tutors, and teaching assistants. Raven noted students sent back thoughtful comments, and found that in general, “clarity would really assist [students]” when determining what services were acceptable or not. The report recommends that a section be added to the Policy on Academic Integrity in the Academic Calendar, as well as guidelines to provide a university-wide minimum standard. Raven said this is an ongoing process, and any recommendations on how to proceed were welcome.

After some discussion, Cassels remarked that the “general message seems to be ‘Yes, please continue’ with the report.”