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UofO Centralization Program Kills Faculty Culture

March 7, 2012

After last Monday’s (March 5) meeting of the UofO Senate, Associate Vice-President of Academics, Johanne Bourdages explained to another student senator and I that the University administration is currently undertaking a centralization program to homogenize academic policies across campus.

The conversation arose regarding the March 5 meeting Agenda item on a proposed new University regulation (available here) mandating course attendance in all courses in all programs across the campus.  As is often the case, no rationale for bringing forward this change was provided with the documentation distributed to Senators in advance of the meeting.  The regulation was not approved at Monday’s meeting, but will return to Senate at a later date.

The proposed regulation states:

Course attendance
Attendance is mandatory for class and laboratory periods. At the beginning of each session, the professor must indicate in the course outline their policies on attendance and the consequences regarding absences. The professor may deny the right to write the final examination to any student who has not complied with these policies.

Some of the questions that we posed to Ms. Bourdages were: what about students who want to study independently, read their own textbooks, and take their chances on the final exam?  This is an accepted learning style in much of the Faculty of Science, for example, so why would the University force an end to that?

What about the liberal power this regulation would grant to professors to deny students the right to write their final exam based on an attendance policy that they may not be aware of?  Isn’t that a little extreme?

What about research-oriented graduate students who need to leave the city for an extended time to take advantage of research training opportunities while also completing a rarely offered course that same semester?  Different departments have different ways of doing things when it comes to learning, and top-down policies oppose this academic way of life.

Centralization kills culture – it’s obvious – is that what the UofO’s upper administration is going for?

FYI: Other recently approved policies in the University’s centralization program are the Regulation on the Duration of Studies (June 2011), Regulation on Course Outlines (June 2011), and the Regulation on Record Retention and Destruction (March 2011).

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