Faculty of Arts and Science – Draft Response to Principal’s Vision Statement [March 18, 2010]

Please note that what follows here is a major part [PART 8] of the FAS response to the Principal’s Vision Statement, but it is not the only part. Refer to the Faculty of Arts and Science Planning Document [February 2010] for the other parts, which are still in draft form.
1. Introductory Comments
2. The Provincial Context
3. Overview of the Faculty
4. Summary of the Current State of the Faculty
5. Perspectives on Excellence
a. The Academic or Institutional Perspective
b. The Beneficiary or Constituency Perspective
c. The Financial or Resource-Based Perspective
d. The Strategic Perspective
6. Principles in Support of Decision-Making
7. Ongoing Goals and Initiatives
a. Goal 1: On Student Admissions
b. Goal 2: On Undergraduate Programs
c. Goal 3: On Faculty Complement
d. Goal 4: On Graduate Programs
e. Goal 5: On Administrative Structures
8. Challenges and Choices
a. Undergraduate Education
b. Graduate Education
c. Research
d. Internationalization and Diversity
e. Structure and Organization of the Faculty
f. Budget
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Appendix A: Departmental Responses to the Principal’s Vision Statement and to the Faculty of Arts and Science Planning Document
8.Challenges and Choices – Introduction
In formulating the following challenges and choices, the Faculty Office has attempted to synthesize a range of comments by faculty, staff and students who have made their views known through meetings of the Committee of Departments and Faculty Board, through submissions in response to the Principal’s “Where Next?” document and through Departmental responses to an early draft of the Arts and Science planning document. In addition, this assessment of future potential directions has incorporated the three-year budget planning documents submitted by Departments to the Faculty Office as part of the preparation of the Faculty Budget and Staffing Strategy for 2010-11 submitted to the Vice Principal (Academic) in January 2010.
The central challenge in formulating a vision of strategic excellence for the Faculty of Arts and Science, however, lies in the richness and diversity of the Faculty itself. Its range of disciplines gives rise to an equally wide range of opinions and potential directions, and its variety of programs, services and operations requires a careful consideration of how this variety might best serve an educational environment conducive to teaching and research. The detailed comments offered by departments in answer to the questionnaire set out in Appendix One of the Principal’s document offer specific responses to the call for an academic plan. They are included as an appendix to this document as an illustration of the rich detail and commitment to excellence evident in all areas of Arts and Science. The following comments are dedicated to broader areas of interest that directly and indirectly affect faculty members, staff and students. Discussion of undergraduate and graduate education, research, internationalization and diversity, the structure and organization of the Faculty and the practice of budgeting across the Faculty provide a focus for self-examination, self-assessment and selecting a future path.
In the following six sections we attempt to consolidate submissions made to the Faculty Office on these areas and to offer some concrete suggestions for future strategic directions in specific aspects of our operations. Each section is divided into three parts. The first, Current State, outlines exemplary practices in each section and offers comments on current activities by the Faculty. The second part, Challenges, indicates some of the immediate and long-term challenges faced by Arts and Science. Finally, the third part of each section, Choices, offers potential future directions.
Readers of this portion of the academic plan should keep in mind, however, both what this section is and what it is not. It is an attempt to consolidate a range of suggestions into a generalized direction for the Faculty, and it is an attempt to balance academic, constituency and resource-based perspectives on excellence into an overall strategic direction. It is not, however, a fixed or programmatic set of imperatives that are beyond negotiation, nor is it a specific financial or budget plan designed to save a
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specific number of dollars across the Faculty. If the University planning process is, to use the common metaphor, a perspective from fifty or sixty thousand feet, this Faculty document descends to somewhere around ten to twenty thousand feet. The reasons for not descending fully to ground level are at least twofold. First, the engagement in this planning process has been extraordinarily rapid for something that could have such significant impacts on the faculty, staff and students of the Faculty of Arts and Science, and these preliminary suggestions need further work before full-scale implementation is possible. Secondly, and just as importantly, the traditions (and indeed, even in the face of a need for innovation, some traditions are worth keeping) of consultation and collaboration that characterize the operations of the Faculty must continue to be maintained. The work of interdisciplinarity, to cite an academic pursuit, is only realized through discussion and collaboration; the sharing of resources, to cite a resource-based or financial imperative, is also facilitated by careful negotiation and attention to detail. Some specific examples are offered here, but they should be understood as examples only. This document is part of a larger process within the University and will need careful reconsideration as we attempt to address the challenges the university is facing.
a. Undergraduate Education
Current State
While there are many opinions as to what is defined as quality of undergraduate education in the Faculty of Arts and Science, two external quality standards offer useful approaches to academic excellence for undergraduate education. First, the Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations (UDLES), cited earlier in this document offer an outline of the criteria for degree programs and by implication for the courses and course content which make up these degree programs. It has a broad base of consideration since it was established by the Ontario Council of University Academic Vice-Presidents, and it has internal authority as a measure adopted by Senate for the assessment of programs in the course of Internal Academic Reviews. The UDLES criteria include depth and breadth of knowledge, knowledge of methodologies, application of knowledge, communication skills, awareness of limits of knowledge, and autonomy and professional capacity.
Second the NSSE survey assesses the level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment. NSSE scores for Queen’s and a number of comparator institutions have recently become available. While the small sample size precludes their use at the departmental level, NSSE results should be reviewed in depth by both the Faculty Office and at the level of “discipline clusters” (e.g., humanities, social sciences, creative arts, physical sciences, etc.) to provide a larger context for consideration of the undergraduate learning environment.
Beyond this, the Faculty of Arts and Science needs to consider carefully its central beneficiaries, its students, and give careful consideration of how it shapes its programs and its image to attract excellent students who are motivated to develop critical thinking skills in analysis, synthesis, making judgments and applying theories. The Faculty has been fortunate to be able to attract such students in the past.
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However, several threats appearing in the form of resource constraints, the pressure to increase enrolments, and the increased competition by other institutions for the same students may undermine Queen’s ability to attract excellent students. A review of the departmental responses from Arts and Science departments shows that many of them feel that increased enrolment and declining faculty complements leading to larger class sizes and student-faculty ratios will threaten student-faculty interaction and active and collaborative learning. NSSE scores for Queen’s in the area of student-faculty interaction tend to be lower than at many of our competitors. At the same time, it is clear that the current fiscal situation has led to fewer academic programs and more competition for spaces in programs that remain.
Challenges
Curriculum change has already begun in the Faculty of Arts and Science: there were approximately twice the number of submissions to Curriculum Committee in 2009-10 than in previous years. To cope with the new fiscal situation, there is an ongoing need to ensure academic programs are sustainable. In the current round, the programs that were cut tended to be those that were low enrolment, or which overlapped with other programs found in the Faculty. With the adoption of a major-minor degree program several years ago, the ability of students to “mix-and-match” program combinations has become more readily available. Students have “voted with their feet” and enrolment in major-minor combinations has grown to some 34% of degree types. Much of the remaining student body is registered in Major degree programs and a handful of highly popular SSP/SPF programs. These outcomes suggest that departments must focus their attention on their major and minor degree programs, and maximize enrolment limits within their budget constraints. Only those SSP/SPF programs that have very large student demand (e.g., Life Science, Kinesiology) or which are truly unique and represent some well-established research cluster at Queen’s not available elsewhere (e.g., Astrophysics) should be continued. Such latter programs should be attached to a department that is prepared to commit its resources to funding them and advising the students in them, but not at the expense of their major and minor offerings. The vast majority of specialized programs, whose course content is effectively delivered through an appropriate major-minor combination, should be discontinued. In the sciences, virtually all medial program combinations have been discontinued. In the arts, the medial programs continue to be popular with students and afford some of the flexibility of the major-minor. They should be continued but closely monitored to track student enrolment and any resource implications at the department level that would threaten their ability to offer major and minor programs.
Student-faculty interaction must be addressed, particularly in light of the fact that student enrolment is on an upward trajectory in the Faculty. One way to achieve this is to focus our senior teaching and research faculty at the upper levels of the program. First-year courses consume large amounts of faculty time, and are often assigned a higher teaching load than upper-year courses. Therefore, we should be focusing our efforts at virtualizing the classroom at the first- and second-year levels. Virtualization can take many forms, and we must be aware of the fact that students still need to interact with their teachers and their peers and not just sit in front of a computer. The Queen’s community, being almost entirely residential and on campus in first year, affords us an opportunity not available elsewhere. A
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model of virtualization like that being suggested in the Psychology Department in its first-year program seems ideal for Queen’s: an online course package with weekly readings and computer-based assignments and testing, coupled with a single high-quality lecture hour a week and tutorial sessions led by graduate students who are themselves evaluated and mentored in their teaching skills as part of a simultaneous graduate course in communication and research methods. With students on campus, and in residence, there is still the opportunity to work with one another peer-to-peer and with motivated and professional teaching assistants, while freeing up faculty to work directly with more senior undergraduates and guide the overall direction of the first-year course.
Choices
While the implications of reorganizing the Faculty are addressed later in this document, it should be noted that within the undergraduate program there exist several opportunities for inter-departmental collaboration in program offerings that may be stand-alone or in the context of departmental amalgamation. In the Languages, a new minor program in Global Languages is under consideration for introduction in the 2010-11 academic year. The Linguistics program is also under consideration for a transition from a Special Field Concentration (SPF) requiring 14.0 credits to a more sustainable Major program requiring 10.0 credits and brought under the administration of the German Department. These two changes will offer students the opportunity to combine Linguistics with other minor concentrations, and even combine the study of Linguistics with a concentration in a range of Languages or with a specific Language Minor in, for example French or Spanish. These moves would support further consolidation and foregrounding of degree programs in the Modern Languages, many of which currently have very low enrolments. More preliminary discussion occurring with the Creative Arts departments on interdisciplinary first-year courses. Such courses might free up faculty time in these departments to focus on upper-year courses, which in the Creative Arts fields tend to be especially highly resource-intensive. By moving from an SPF to a Major Fine Art program, the Department of Art has brought this program more within the major-minor model in the rest of the faculty. The departments of Geography and Geology both offer courses in the earth sciences. Students appear to be less aware of this field of study, as it is not covered in high school, and thus upper-year geology and physical geography programs tend to have unused capacity. At the same time, the Environmental Studies program, which uses first-year courses from other departments (e.g., Biology, Geography, Geology) to provide its introductory offerings, could benefit from a more synthesized “gateway” experience. There is clearly opportunity for these three departments (i.e., Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology) to collaborate in a common first year program that would provide valuable capacity in an elective course, together with a vehicle for promoting these departments’ upper-year programs.
The Faculty needs to review its course weighting structure. At the senior level, many departments offer “capstone” courses in which students participate actively in research either, in the sciences, within a laboratory setting or, in the humanities, in a seminar format coupled with a large-scale independent thesis or reading project. These courses have credit weightings ranging from 0.5 to 2.0. While having any one course count for any more than about 20% of a degree program is likely inappropriate, departments must consider that these courses are both highly resource-intensive and are likely to be one important way we can fulfill the UDLES requirement of an Honours degree program expected to
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develop “knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, methodologies, current advances, theoretical approaches and assumptions in a discipline overall, as well as in a specialized area of discipline.”1 Therefore, a minimum course weight of 1.0, and possibly 1.5, would be appropriate for such courses. It should also be realized that the student experience in these courses probably far outweighs the contact time with the faculty. Therefore, the student credit weighting and faculty teaching credit weighting should not necessarily correspond in such courses. Departments that do not offer such “capstone” courses, or whose equivalent “thesis courses” are not effectively utilized, should move towards developing such courses or modifying their current fourth-year seminar offerings to include a self-directed learning component with increased weighting.
Finally, the Faculty needs to prepare for larger undergraduate enrolments in the future. It has recently become apparent that the provincial government wishes to further increase access to postsecondary education, and is prepared to fund enrolment increases in some fashion. At its latest meeting, SCAD moved that the university would increase undergraduate enrolment by up to 200 students for 2010, and Arts and Science will assume some percentage of this increase. Increased enrolment leads to increased revenues but, as noted in the budget section below, such enrolment increases and expectations must be carefully managed, otherwise the increased teaching costs can outstrip any revenue increases. By following the precepts outlined above – course reweightings, virtualization projects, curriculum change and inter-departmental collaboration in delivering undergraduate programs – the Faculty should be in a position to absorb increased undergraduate enrolments.
b. Graduate Education
Current State
The critical importance of a high-quality graduate program cannot be overstated where research intensiveness is an essential component of the identity of the institution. A high-quality graduate program stands as an important complement to research activities in the university, trains students to be the next generation of faculty members or advanced researchers, supports and enriches undergraduate education, and develops intellectual skills necessary to a knowledge-based economy which is continually changing and continually requires lifelong updating and upgrading of these skills. The Council of Ontario Universities, in a report on increased demand for graduate education, offers an analysis of the graduate learning environment that stands as a good starting point for discussions of graduate education in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The graduate learning environment, as described in the COU report, is defined by three specific characteristics: It is advanced in that it is not simply another year or more of the same, but is based upon prior completion of an undergraduate degree in the same or related areas as the basis of admission and upon the prerequisite knowledge gained in that undergraduate education. It is focused in that while breadth of knowledge is important, the emphasis is on depth-concentration of study in a discipline, in a field within that discipline, and through the thesis research, in a subject within the field.
1 See item 1a under “Depth and Breadth” for the Bachelor’s Honours Degree Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents, “Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations Guidelines.”
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It is scholarly in that it is concerned not simply with the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but with the critical analysis of existing knowledge and the creation of new knowledge.2
The graduate programs offered through the Faculty of Arts and Science demonstrate a profound commitment to these characteristics and display faculty members’ engagement with academic excellence. However this is an important period of transition for the Faculty of Arts and Science. It is now more actively engaged in the governance of graduate programs through the restructuring of the School of Graduate Studies, and in the wake of reaching the graduate targets proposed as part of the “Reaching Higher” program, the Faculty is in the process of considering (or reconsidering) the management of its graduate programs as a steady-state model rather than an increased growth model.
Challenges
Reports from several of the Faculty’s larger departments in the three-year budget plans point to an area of increased concern, however. While numbers for 2010-11 meet the steady state targets of 2009-10, and indeed show possibilities of some increase in graduate intake, the forecasts for 2011-12 and 2012-13 show an increasing inability to finance TA positions and other financial incentives to graduate students under the budget parameters used. In addition, the likelihood that faculty members will not be replaced may leave insufficient supervisory capacity. As a result a number of the departments with larger enrolments predict an inability to sustain the current intake and are asking to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate their graduate programs. However, as clarified in the February, 2010 Arts and Science draft planning document, there is considerable budget uncertainty beyond 2010-11. Future budgets may be significantly better than the original planning assumptions beyond 2010-11 depending on which budget assumptions are used.
The May 2009 Senate document entitled “Governing Framework for Graduate Studies” outlined a restructuring of the administrative relationship between the School of Graduate Studies and the individual Faculties to allow for fuller integration of graduate operations within the Faculties and to allow for more comprehensive dissemination of information within and across each Faculty. This improved integration has become increasingly important in recent years given the fact that the authority for the hiring of the faculty members required to sustain graduate programs resides in Faculties and not in the School of Graduate Studies. In addition, the financial resources for maintaining, increasing or initiating programs and courses also resides in the Faculties, and the structures and processes put in place as a result of this document are intended to ensure that the Dean and Associate Deans are aware of and can comment on the feasibility of any changes to graduate programs. However, the challenges in implementing this restructuring have been significant. Implementation of two new Graduate Councils, development of administrative structures to oversee graduate curriculum, and construction of operational manuals for the Councils have proven challenging, particularly in an environment where so much change is taking place and so much budget uncertainty resides.
2 Paul Davenport et al., Advancing Ontario’s Future through Advanced Degrees: Report of the COU Task Force on Future Requirements for Graduate Education in Ontario (Council of Ontario Universities, November 2003), p. 4, http://www.cou.on.ca/content/objects/Advanced%20degrees%2021.pdf.
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Choices
Several areas are rapidly emerging in the area of graduate studies:
First, a formal strategy for managing enrolments must be developed and a desired proportion of graduate to undergraduate enrolment must be determined. The Faculty continues to work with the School of Graduate Studies to ensure that the overall steady-state enrolment targets for the Faculty are supported by localized targets within each department. Two aspects of enrolment management must be further developed in the coming year:
o first, a collaborative process for negotiating overall steady state enrolments should be further refined to negotiate the fixed overall targets or any change to these fixed overall targets;
o second, a collaborative process for managing enrolment fluctuations among various individual graduate programs is also critical to the ongoing success of the graduate enterprise.
Careful enrolment management must be used to oversee the flow-through rates of funding-eligible students, the balance of domestic and international students and the financial and human resource capacity of each department to maintain, increase or diminish enrolment. Where shifts in enrolment take place an overall plan for compensation among units must be developed and enrolment changes monitored.
Graduate enrolment currently stands at approximately 15% of the student population in Arts and Science.
Second, the identification of programs with potential to grow and those vulnerable to closure must take place. The introduction of the interdisciplinary Cultural Studies program has proven very successful among faculty at Queen’s with involvement across a wide range of departments and has also attracted a wide range of highly qualified students. The capacity for growth in this program must be assessed against the human and financial resource base in the Faculty and against potential decline in enrolments in other graduate programs. Within a framework of diminishing financial and human resources, some programs, such as the MA in Spanish, faces closure without sufficient numbers of faculty to meet accreditation requirements and sufficient student demand. More challenging in 2011-12 is the projected likelihood that important programs such as those in Economics, English, History, Global Development Studies and Geology will begin to reduce their graduate intake significantly. As mentioned above, the active recruitment process undertaken to increase graduate enrolments to meet the opportunities provided by the “Reaching Higher” program lead now to a reassessment of how to maintain these numbers.
Third, a new organizational model that integrates administration of graduate programs must be implemented and finalized. The restructuring of the School of Graduate Studies and the transition of aspects of its operation to the Faculty have offered significant opportunity for greater integration and understanding of advanced studies within the larger operations of Arts and Science. The Faculty is
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working extensively with the School of Graduate Studies to implement this transition. In less turbulent times, this change and the tasks that go with it would be considered as a major initiative, given the complexity and diversity of the Faculty and the different nature of its operations. In saying this, we do not mean to devalue the importance of the opportunities and challenges this change provides, but instead to illustrate the size and range of new challenges facing the Faculty.
c. Research
Current State
In developing an academic plan for the next five years, it would be easy to focus only on the short-term challenges, and fail to recognize the major accomplishments the University has achieved under previous (often) less-than-ideal circumstances. Over the last 20-25 years Queen’s has grown from its historical base as a primarily undergraduate-focused institution to become one of the top five research intensive universities in Ontario. On a per-capita basis, we are national leaders using metrics such as number of awards per faculty member and Tri-Council funding. These increases in funding and external “profile” have accelerated especially over the last decade, in conjunction with new federal and provincial initiatives, as well as the University’s strategic allocation of resources to support faculty in their research endeavours, such as Queen’s Office of Research Services. Queen’s historical success, it can be argued, has derived largely from being able to attract excellent scholars, based on a decentralized planning process, rather than strategic “top-down” initiatives. This situation is possibly a strength and a weakness, creating a overall body of strong researchers, but not providing a specifically defined set of research areas. By developing a culture of “research excellence,” the Faculty has benefited directly in being able to attract and retain outstanding faculty and students, key to the success of our academic mission of educating students within a research-intensive environment.
The Faculty of Arts and Science has taken a leading role in this transformation, as revealed by the accompanying submissions from our departments and programs. The sheer diversity of research activities is overwhelming. From studies of digital culture to race, gender and HIV/AIDS, from aquatic toxicology to developmental psychology to global political economy, faculty and their students are not only pushing the boundaries of their traditional disciplines but are also increasingly cutting across these boundaries, often by reaching out to collaborators at Queen’s and beyond. The “outputs” of this activity may range from performance art to patents, from improved pandemic modelling to new techniques for identifying ancient artifacts. Over the last decade, Arts & Science has take an increasing partnership role (with the VP (Academic) and VP (Research) in supporting the development of this research intensive environment. Since 2005 we have allocated about 30% of the faculty’s annual budget to support a diverse array of research needs. While the largest portion of this figure would be represented by the generic 40% research estimate of full-time faculty member salaries (based on the 40:40:20 workload model), the range of support also includes well-known items such as Research Initiation Grants for new faculty, Teaching Relief Stipends associated with the (recently-defunct) SSHRC Standard Grants RTS programs, and the Dean’s Conference competition (including undergraduate conferences), Dean’s Equipment and Student Resources competitions. Less well-known are supports such as Contributions to Advisory Research Committee grants; Teaching Relief for CRCs, other chairs or award winners (e.g.,
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QNS), and newly hired faculty; Capstone Experiences for 4th year Undergraduates, linking teaching with research; Renovations & Alterations; Research Support for Department Heads’ and Associate Deans; TA support for Graduate Student stipends; Matching Funds for CFI applications, NSERC and SSHRC initiatives as well as other agencies requiring university partner support; Support for cross-faculty research initiatives, for example, the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Service Unit (Arts & Science/Health Science); Research support for Faculty Retention; and Professional Review Services for draft grant applications (in partnership with the Office of Research Services). From this list (which is not exhaustive) it is clear that FAS research funding is not simply a “top-up” to external grants, but helps train students, promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and internationalization, and provides opportunities for scholarly activities that benefit a wider audience.
Challenges
It is important to point out that protecting the quality of our research environment has been an ongoing preoccupation for some time, and the current budget circumstances only exacerbate what has already become a challenging task. The chief external pressures have been significant changes in the research funding environment as a result of new government policies, and the sharp increase in competition for such funds from peer institutions. The addition of new federal monies (e.g., Canada Research Chairs, CFI), while welcome, have required significant matching investments. Recent changes to Tri-Council strategic plans have also diminished funding opportunities for single-scholar, inquiry-based research, in favour of collaborative, team-based opportunities targeted to initiatives with identifiable outcomes. Increasingly, granting bodies require applicants to develop partnerships with other sectors, and this is especially true in the physical and applied sciences, where industry support has become crucial. Queen’s historical strength as a community of (largely) single scholars, in a locale with modest industrial activity, is not an easy fit in this niche. Within the University, our commitments to a mid-sized student body coupled with excellence in undergraduate education also place unique demands on faculty researchers. Thus, Queen’s has had to work hard to attract and retain top scholars, maintain its reputation to attract high-quality graduate students, and continue to support a vibrant research environment. The current budget pressures place all these in jeopardy.
In their submissions, departments identify the risks that attend a decline in research support, as inability to retain their top faculty, reduced ability to lead (and thus direct) major collaborative research initiatives, and loss of momentum in developing internationally-significant programs. The most pressing needs for researchers are increased support for technical staff, instrumentation and infrastructure, and relief from non-teaching workload demands that eat into precious time for scholarly activities. Of these, the “time famine” is easily the most widely-reported problem and the most difficult to mitigate.
Choices
Over the last year, Faculty has been forced to turn back almost all requests from researchers for support. The ongoing budget challenges mean we have to examine our role as providers of essential research funds. At the same time we need to ensure our researchers can take full advantage of new
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opportunities to pursue initiatives, which increasingly require transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries and forging new collaborations.
In the absence of new funding sources, one obvious choice would be to withdraw from support of faculty-based research until the fiscal situation improves. The Faculty feels, however, that jettisoning all involvement in research would be a mistake, not the least of which would be the loss of our ability to promote research activity and to advocate on behalf of our departments. Such a withdrawal would also significantly weaken the Faculty’s mission to ensure that research is integrated with undergraduate teaching. An alternative is to restrict faculty support to a limited subset of research requirements, such as Research Initiation Grants, or initiatives that involve the teaching environment. A third option, either in conjunction or instead of the latter, would be to create a research fund for re-allocation, perhaps twice a year, where proposals could be evaluated. Limited input from departments suggests there is some support for the Faculty to maintain its presence in research support – but not at the expense of the teaching environment.
The Faculty also supports: Taking up Principal Woolf’s suggestion to encourage faculty to modify workload from the standard 40:40:20, to accommodate shifting emphases in activity over the career course Helping units develop centralized technical services, which would become self-supporting Helping research clusters develop in collaboration with Vice Principal (Research), for example as Senate-approved Research Groups, with fixed-term funding, after which they would become self-sustaining Encouraging units to pursue entrepreneurial activities (in consultation with Advancement) such as expendable named chairs or named postdoctoral fellowships
As regards new research initiatives, the Faculty recognizes the utility of identifying areas of strength to guide crucial decision-making. Pragmatically, many of today’s most challenging problems require an interdisciplinary approach, and Queen’s remains a mid-sized university, so strategic investment in research must exercise selectivity. At the same time, we should not underestimate the importance of recruiting leading-edge scholars and providing them with a supportive environment to pursue their investigations. The Faculty is confident that this is the fundamental key to staying “ahead of the wave.”
Over the next five years, the opportunities for research investment will continue to grow. Among the many possibilities in the Creative Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Physical and Natural Sciences, the following areas may hold particular potential for faculty in Arts & Science: Advanced materials and green technologies Climate and vulnerable ecosystems Culture, society and development Environment: energy, earth resources and sustainability Governance, diversity and social justice Information, communication and digital media
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Knowledge ecologies3: medical, technical and environmental humanities Populations, health and behaviour
These areas, many of which offer opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with individuals across departments and in other Faculties at Queen’s, are provided here to stimulate discussion of research interests. They do not identify organizational structures in the Faculty.
d. Internationalization and Diversity
Current contexts
Internationalization and diversity are intertwined elements in the institutional contexts of post-secondary education. Internationalization has been defined as “the process of integrating an international, intercultural, or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of postsecondary education.” The international dimension involves “the sense of the relationships between and among nations, cultures or countries”; the intercultural dimension recognizes the “diversity of cultures that exist within countries, communities, and institutions; the global dimension provides “the sense of worldwide scope.”4 The expanded participation of our own students in international study together with the presence of incoming exchange students contributes significantly both to the experience of diversity on campus and to the preparation of our students for global citizenship and leadership in a rapidly shrinking world.
Over the past few years, the Faculty of Arts and Science has amply demonstrated its commitment to the importance of internationalization . Opportunities for an upper-year international exchange experience have greatly increased, with close to 150 upper-year Arts and Science students now spending at least a term (and in many cases a full academic year) at one of almost 100 international partner institutions, bilateral and consortial, in some 25 countries, balanced by a corresponding number of incoming international exchange students. Student interest in international study is currently at an all-time high: the number of outgoing exchange students, for example, has tripled over the past ten years. A further factor worth recording is that if we take a typical graduating class in Arts and Science as consisting of approximately 2,500 students, recent statistics suggest that approximately 19% of that class will have spent at least one term studying abroad, as opposed to just over 14% five years ago.
The work of the International Programs Office has been critical in the cause of internationalization, notably by contributing significantly to the initial funding of the Queen’s China Liaison Officer position and by continuing to promote vigorously the importance of international study. A further key element of the Faculty’s internationalization strategy is the Queen’s School of English, which continues to attract a steadily increasing number of students from a variety of countries, especially in Asia.
3 See Jane Kenway, Elizabeth Bullen, and Simon Robb, eds. Innovation and Tradition: The Arts, Humanities, and the Knowledge Economy (New York: Peter Lang, 2004).
4 Jane Knight, “Updating the Definition of Internationalization,” International Higher Education, no 33, Fall 2003, http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/newsletter/News33/text001.htm.
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The Arts and Science curriculum on campus and off demonstrates an engagement with internationalization. The development of INTS courses is only one initiative designed to foreground international issues in the undergraduate curriculum. Courses and programs in Global Development Studies, Political Studies, History, English and the Languages promote the sense of the international and the cultural. Courses and programs taught abroad by individual Arts and Science departments include an award-winning DEVS semester program at Fudan University in Shanghai and individual courses such as a DEVS Cuban Culture course in Havana; an Art History course in Venice; Classical archaeological digs in Italy and Jordan; and Biology field trips in China, Mexico, or Argentina. Upper-year students also have access to a very wide range of independent study-abroad opportunities organized by accredited universities worldwide.
The research undertaken in Arts and Science is clearly international in nature, involving not only a host of topics of global and transnational interest but also in many instances the opportunity for undergraduate exposure to faculty members and graduate students from a wide range of other countries and cultures. Diversity, while not defined solely by its relationship to internationalization, stands in a dynamic relation to it, by personalizing and integrating awareness of difference in terms of social and personal identities into the university environment. To quote the Senate Educational Equity Committee: “Diversity in an institutional context refers to the condition of including and accounting for the academic, educational, and/or career development needs and realities of students, staff and faculty belonging to varying social identity groups.”5
The Faculty of Arts and Science continues to emphasize diversity, defined in these terms, as a strategic goal. Recent administrative developments include the appointment of an Associate Dean as Chair of the University’s Council on Employment Equity, and the participation of that individual as a member on both the University Aboriginal Council and the recently formed Diversity and Equity Task Force established by the Vice-Principal (Academic).
Challenges
While the number of Arts and Science studying abroad has risen dramatically, the current pace of globalization requires that we should be providing an even greater number of our students with international learning experiences and sustained exposure to a diversity of cultures.
An associated challenge, given the reduced number of senior-level courses and sections in many departments, is to accommodate the correspondingly increased number of incoming exchange students in courses at that level. The Faculty has responded to this challenge by introducing a number of upper-level International Studies (INTS) courses—compensated for so far by discontinuing low-enrolment courses taught by the same instructor—to which incoming exchange students will have priority access.
The Faculty remains committed to seeking ways of supporting curricular directions and programs which are focused on aspects of diversity.
5 “Queen’s University Educational Equity Policy,” November 26, 2009, http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/senate/Nov26_09/SEECRpt.pdf.
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Choices
Providing opportunities for international study gives rise to at least three important benefits for the University as a whole: excellent students are attracted to Queen’s as a result of our growing reputation for providing such opportunities; the integration of cultural diversity into the learning experience on a day-to-day level is significantly enhanced; and our student ambassadors contribute significantly to raising the international profile of Queen’s in more than 25 countries.
Given the rapidly increasing interest in study abroad and significantly enhanced operational efficiencies, the International Programs Office would require only one further staff position to be in a position to double the current all-time-high number of Arts and Science exchange students from 150 to 300 per year and to expand its roster of institutional partners in areas less well represented to date. Placement of incoming exchange students in upper-level courses would continue to be facilitated by the introduction of further INTS courses to which they would have preferential access.
The Faculty will continue to regard diversity issues as a high strategic and educational priority.
e. Structure and Organization of the Faculty
Creative Arts, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences stand together as one faculty which provides flexibility and choice for students, although the size and complexity of the Faculty can make it difficult to coordinate common departmental, faculty, and student needs and to undertake fundamental and coherent changes in direction. Departments are the fundamental unit of academic and operational administration and departments and faculty members enjoy a significant degree of autonomy. Departmental workload, undergraduate, graduate, and workload committees oversee procedures and innovation at the Departmental level and feed either into Faculty-level committees such as the Curriculum Committee or into the Faculty Office. The Faculty Office manages departmental affairs in relation to budget, staffing/workplace issues, research, and teaching through the office of department heads, in addition to centrally managing research operations, space allocations, and relations with other Faculties. Faculty Board and Committee of Department Heads operate as the two highest-level Faculty committees. The Dean reports to the Vice-Principal Academic while Committee of Departments and Faculty Board report to the Dean and to University Senate.
Challenges
Current and projected University-level financial constraints and their attendant consequences require that the Faculty of Arts and Science look to the adoption of an administrative and operational structure that can cope with and, in turn, manage the University’s new reality. Such a new structure must maintain administrative support for departments, capitalize on the skill sets of its faculty and staff, cope with faculty and staff retirements that will not be replaced for the next few years, and transition to the new technologies that will accompany the virtualization of certain components of the Faculty’s curriculum. Such constraints and imperatives also work against departmental and faculty-member autonomy and increase reliance on the Faculty Office for administrative and operational support. Balancing the University’s centralizing imperatives with the Faculty’s grass-roots traditions while also
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maintaining the breadth of courses and programs of study afforded by our united Faculty requires careful thought and thorough consultation.
Current challenges, however, also present questions that beg for answers. Attrition to the faculty and staff complements through retirements and resignations and proliferation of programs with small enrollments— under fifty concentrators in years 2-4—raises such questions as: What is a department? What size ought a department to be? What is the bare minimum of permanent faculty members required to sustain a minor, a medial, and a major? How can a growing service load be reconciled with a shrinking faculty and staff complements?
While finding cost savings is important, it is more important to find a way to restructure the Faculty so that rather than reacting on a crisis-by-crisis basis we can instead seek to manage our entry into and exit from the current situation and situate ourselves to emerge in as strong a position as possible.
Choices and Recommendations
Should the Faculty continue as a single organization or should some division be considered? The Faculty should continue as a single organization because its size affords economies of scale in terms of administration and operation, its breadth allows students to move easily from one concentration to another and to take elective courses in a variety of disciplines with no institutional or administrative barriers. While such size and complexity can make changes cumbersome to achieve, the benefits outweigh the costs. As well, to divide the Faculty would entail dividing the Faculty Office administration, resulting in a loss of economies of scale and the need for expanded academic administrations to manage the constituent Faculties.
Should the structure of individual departments continue or should consolidation be explored? In some cases consolidation of individual departments is a reasonable solution to the problems of shrinking faculty and staff complements and disappearing departmental budgets. The Departments of German Language and Literature, Spanish and Italian Languages and Literature, and the Linguistics Program are currently pursuing departmental amalgamation for such reasons, while a proposal among the Creative Arts heads aims to create a suite of new interdisciplinary courses that would knit together their respective disciplines. At the same time, so many core disciplinary capacities rest in so many departments that consolidation cannot be pursued wholesale. Instead, we can find potential solutions to our common problems by considering different levels and degrees of administrative and operational collaboration in conjunction with parallel efforts to maintain as much local-level autonomy and sovereignty as possible.
In an effort to relieve administrative and bureaucratic workloads, to obtain cost savings in non-academic areas, and to put the Faculty in a position where it can manage, rather than react to, change, the Faculty should explore rethinking our current administrative structure. Creating central administrative offices in the various buildings that comprise the Faculty, which could then place current departmental staff in offices that would provide for them a stronger workplace environment than they might currently enjoy, affords one possibility, but there may be others. We recognize that such administrative changes would come with some cost to current levels of departmental service but in the face of the financial constraints
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the Faculty faces, and in an effort to protect the Faculty’s staff complement, changes at the departmental level of administrative and operational support are preferable to ones that might imperil more directly the Faculty’s academic programs.
Further centralization of administrative and operational functions might occur at the Faculty Office level. The creation of a Faculty Budget Office or a Faculty Employee Relations office, for example, could address two of the most pressing and complex sets of problems that currently beset departments, but such innovations might also impinge upon departmental authority and autonomy. Finding the right balance will be key. Such potential moves toward administrative and operational centralization would entail further consultation in order to ensure that solutions for common problems are tailored to the needs and capabilities of the departments. The intent would be to relieve Department Heads and faculty members of as much of their administrative and service workloads as possible, without compromising their autonomy, so that they might focus more of their energies on the Faculty’s academic mission which, the Faculty acknowledges, is best carried out at the departmental level.
In sum, the Faculty Office recommends considering buildings as one possible site for restructuring departmental operations and administrations and finding ways to free up the academic energies of departments that face growing administrative and service workloads. Disentangling the two sides of Faculty operations will no doubt be difficult, but through constructive dialogue and attention to local needs and capabilities we may find our surest way toward meeting the demands of the current financial situation while at the same time renewing the Faculty’s academic mission and flagship status within the University.
Are the current administrative structures of the Faculty sufficient? Faculty-member service to the departments and to the Faculty has emerged as a weak point in the Faculty’s operations. If such service can be tied directly to faculty members’ core concerns and to enable faculty members to contribute in ways that are tangible and rewarding to their notion of what a University ought to be about, we hope to thereby address a looming concern about a general decline in faculty members fulfilling service responsibilities. The relationship between Faculty Board and Committee of Departments ought also to be explicated, so that it is clear how they relate to one another, how they relate to both the Office of the Dean and to the University Senate, and how faculty and staff might more effectively enact their citizenship in the Queen’s community.
f. Budget
Current State
The University has many competing demands for the use of resources. While it is clear that departmental feedback has expressed varying levels of support or understanding for certain budget allocation decisions made outside the Faculty, the Faculty is also obliged to focus on the efficient and effective use of its own resources. The Faculty goals, budget and budget model should be well integrated with those of the University.
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Faculty budget decisions to date have been highly influenced by certain well-known, formulaic resource allocation indicators yet have also been responsive to other less quantifiable University and Faculty priorities including diversity and breadth considerations. This integration of qualitative and quantitative factors will continue with any budget model approach and it is important to have transparency of both aspects.
Challenges
Many elements of the Faculty environment and structures are not conducive to change, thus although often spurned, certain ‘historical’ aspects of the Faculty’s budget are a current reality. Quantitative indicators can be superseded by either the highly regulated budget components or possibly additional qualitative factors, limiting the amount and speed of possible budget reallocations. Further, control of certain elements of the budgets at the unit level can create additional barriers to possible efficient collaborations.
Specific revenue and expenditure feedback received to date indicate a seemingly widespread belief that increased enrolments or programmes (and thus revenues) must also result in increased investments. However, while that premise would seem entirely reasonable, the ability to make such investments are compromised if escalating annual costs for existing structures exceed such revenues and there also continues to be limited opportunity to reallocate resources.
Choices and Suggestions
As has been suggested elsewhere in the planning process, consolidation of common themes in the Faculty can lead to certain efficiencies. In terms of budgeting, these can take the form of reduced variation of cost drivers including program structures and workload formulas. Regarding short-term resources, the Faculty has fielded a wide variation of opinion on whether these resources are best used to finance the status quo for as long as possible, or invest as seed capital for new initiatives that may become self-sustaining in the future.
The Faculty Office believes that the budget model should be driven by a combination of revenue attribution (concentrators, programs), the level and source of student teaching (costs), as well as some measure for departmental performance including teaching, research and service. Factors contributing to the complexity of these discussions include, but are not limited to, the relationship between undergraduate and graduate structures, teaching and research, as well as the extent to which valuable service aspects can and should be incorporated. The faculty is also mindful that the time required to develop and perhaps more importantly administer the model must also be a consideration.
Work on certain elements of revenue and cost information is already underway in the Faculty Office and it is envisioned that collaboration with the Faculty in some fashion will be required in the near future as various components of a draft model are refined. This collaboration could either utilize existing administrative structures or perhaps development of new structures. Certain elements should have a target for implementation by the fall of 2010 for the 2011-12 budget year with possible completion of more complex elements and discussions by the fall of 2011 for the 2012-13 budget year if necessary.
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Challenges and Choices – Concluding Comments
The goal of strategic excellence requires careful balance (and sometimes creative tension) among academic, constituency and resource-based perspectives. As emphasized in various ways throughout the twenty-seven departmental responses we received and, as reiterated throughout this document, the goal of strategic excellence originates in the curiosity-based research and teaching of individual faculty members and develops outwards in the increasingly interdisciplinary potential of their work as it intersects with that of other members of the Faculty and other academic units. The future resource-based support for such academic expertise and development appears to reside in a degree of integration and interdependence gained from a degree of coordination of the deployment of financial and human resources that is in service of this academic excellence. The pervasive concern is to balance respect for the past traditions and structures of the Faculty against the potential enhancements of the educational environment available through carefully considered change. The interests of the beneficiaries of this educational enterprise are a critical component of this strategic balancing act. Respect for the individual research and instructional enterprise and the freedom of inquiry due faculty members and a coordination of the supporting resources for scholarship, teaching and service must combine in an educational context conducive to excellent programs for undergraduate and graduate students, the prime beneficiaries of the work of the Faculty of Arts and Science. As noted throughout the above, and throughout the departmental responses, that goal is not only strategic, but is foundational to the Faculty’s response to the Principal’s Vision document.
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Appendix A: Departmental Responses to the Principal’s Vision Statement and to the Faculty of Arts and Science Planning Document

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