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U of O Granting Program Gives $80 000 / year for Clickers, etc.

December 20, 2011

The Senate Committee on Teaching & Teaching Evaluation is revitalizing a “Teaching and Learning Grants” program that proposes to give  $80,000 / year to projects to “improve the effectiveness of student learning and to encourage innovation in teaching.”

As a member of the Ad Hoc Committee responsible for defining the Terms of Reference of this granting program, I wanted to know what the composition of the selection panel for the awards looked like in previous years before a formalized recommendation to the Teaching & Teaching Evaluation is made.

You would be amazed at the level of resistance by administration members to basic requests of this type from student representatives on governance committees at the U of O.  When an $80,000 academic granting program (not to mention corporate ads, football fields, and million dollar lawsuits) can be toyed with by the administration as if they were managers at McDonald’s, does it surprise anyone that tuition fees are climbing while educational quality plummets at this school?

I hope that more critical students will jump into open seats in university governance and take action to hold this administration accountable — like this, for example? (See below):
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From: Joseph Hickey
To: Bob Parson (Centre for University Teaching)
Cc: Members of the Senate Committee on Teaching & Teaching Evaluation
Date: December 19, 2011
Subject: Teaching & Learning Grants Ad Hoc Committee: Traditional practice re: membership of selection committee

Dear Bob Parson,

This morning, a meeting was held of the Senate Teaching & Teaching Evaluation Committee’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Teaching and Learning Grants Program.  The Teaching and Learning Grants Program provides funding to U of O professors in order to develop innovative approaches and “pedagogical tools” for use in teaching.  The total value of the program’s funding is approximately $80,000 per year.

Part of the Ad Hoc committee’s mandate is to establish a Terms of Reference for the Teaching and Learning Grants Program, including defining the membership of the selection committee that will award the grants.

At this morning’s meeting, it was agreed that you would search for the information that would establish the past practice of the selection committee’s membership, and deliver it to the Ad Hoc Committee to consider before a final recommendation is made by the Ad Hoc Committee.

Although you and other members of the Ad Hoc Committee argued that knowing the traditional practice regarding membership to the selection committee of this grants program is not important, I am in disagreement on this point, and I look forward to reviewing the background information that you will provide about the Teaching and Learning Grants Program’s granting practice as soon as possible and before the Ad Hoc Committee makes a written recommendation to the Senate Teaching & Teaching Evaluation Committee, as per the Ad Hoc Committee’s consensus agreement of this morning.  Could you please let me know when you will be able to provide this information?

A point of concern for me, for example, is the insistence of several members of the Ad Hoc Committee on including the University VP Academic as a member of the Program’s selection committee despite the fact that the VP Academic has not, to any Ad Hoc Committee member’s knowledge, ever before been a member of the Teaching and Learning Grants Program’s selection committee.  The Associate VP Academic’s (Yves Herry) argument that the VP Academic  should have a vote in awarding these grants because that would enhance “accountability” of the Program is wrong.  Rather, accountability requires that the selection committee conducts its actions in a transparent manner, justifies itself when questioned, and accepts responsibility for its actions (e.g. post its Minutes on the web, for starters).

In fact, would you not agree that accountability requires the Ad Hoc Committee to have a full knowledge of the traditional practice of the membership of the selection committee before going on to defining a Terms of Reference for the grants Program?

Sincerely,

Joseph Hickey
Student Senator, FGPS (Sciences)

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