President Loreman’s report to GFC, February 9, 2018.Posted on: Feb 9, 2018
Visit to the University of Porto
In my January report to GFC I provided information on the objectives of my visit to UPorto on the Erasmus+ program. I am pleased to report that it was a most productive and worthwhile visit, and I am grateful to our friends at UPorto for the warm hospitality. I met with the Reitor on two occasions, once for a private dinner and once for an extended meeting in his office. We got along well personally and I was able to gain deep insights into the administrative structure of his university. I also met with all Vice Reitors, some on multiple occasions. The most effective practice I observed was the collaboration between Faculties, Departments, and individuals at UPorto. They shared cross-Faculty research projects as well as teaching cross-faculty programs. Cross-Faculty research is being fostered through research clusters at CUE, but we do little in the way of cross-Faculty programming. I believe there is potential for us to develop this further.
I visited Arts, Science, Management, and Psychology and Education Sciences. I had substantial meetings and tours of all areas. In each instance I was able to make connections, followed by email introductions, to people at CUE, either at the administrative or the faculty level.
I had two dinners with ‘CUE Alumni’, meaning UPorto faculty members and administrative staff who have visited CUE. They all love Concordia! We discussed the research projects that they are currently working on with CUE faculty members and other areas for collaboration.
The following areas of cooperation were discussed, and concrete steps for moving these ideas forward were put into place.
- Summer courses at UPorto.
- AI and Machine Learning collaborations.
- Dual degrees. I discussed the potential for offering dual degrees in Psychology, Management, Public Health, and the Arts/Humanities and have put the Deans of CUE Faculties in touch with their Portuguese counterparts.
- Nautical/Marine school. UPorto offers a fascinating course of 2-3 weeks in the summer onboard a historic naval sailing ship. CUE has been invited to send a group of students in summer 2018 and beyond.
- Enhancing student mobility.
This was a most engaging and worthwhile trip to an impressive university. I believe that it helped to strengthen and further the relationship between our two universities, and was a useful way for me to spend my time, enhancing our international profile and helping me to better understand some of the partnership possibilities that exist with this university.
Peter Milne, working under contract, has put together a space usage plan for approximately 10 acres of the Northlands site that I have provided to Edmonton Councillors Cr. Tony Caterina and Cr. Mike Nickle. This is a conceptual plan only, intended to act as a catalyst for discussions between Concordia, the City of Edmonton, and other stakeholders with respect to the Northlands site. It involves a plan for a pedway across 112 Ave, student residences, a 500-800 seat theatre, an academic building, a recreation centre, and an outdoor track and soccer field. I attended a Community Stakeholder Committee meeting on the evening of February 6 at which I represented Concordia’s interests and outlined our proposal to the City.
In addition to our MOU with the University of Szczecin (USZ) in Poland, we have now signed an Erasmus+ agreement with them. We expect to start the following activity with them soon:
- USZ is sending a scholar for the Faculty of Management at CUE for a week.
- USZ is planning to send a person from their International Office to us for a week
- USZ has advertised 2 places for CUE students (1 semester for each). As yet no students have applied (please encourage them to do so).
- CUE will send one scholar from the Faculty of Management to USZ, for teaching and mutual learning.
- CUE will send a staff from the International Office to their international training week, May 21-25 2018.
- CUE will welcome USZ student(s) once the next call is open and students apply.
In other news three partner universities in south Brazil (Unilasale, Univates, Unisc) have prepared a 3-week program for CUE students, 1 week at each place. The program, not for credit, is a mix of classes, field trips, and social and cultural activities. It is tuition free and we have up to 10 places.
Developing the 2018-19 budget has been challenging. We are looking at a situation where our costs are escalating while our revenues are not increasing at the same rate. Our greatest challenges remain the lack of backfill on tuition that has been promised to public institutions, and capital projects that we are highly resistant to putting off again. Doing this too frequently creates an infrastructure deficit that should be avoided. The Centre for Science, Research, and Innovation is also posing challenges and we continue to look to fundraising efforts to assist us in this regard. We are continuing to work hard on the budget and are determined to present the Board with a balanced budget for approval on March 2.
With that in mind we are trying to better scrutinize expenses large and small across the institution. It may seem absurd to discontinue the purchase of Department birthday cakes or cookies at meetings, for example, but these small expenses add up over the course of a year and are very difficult to defend. I appreciate the cooperation of our community as we look to maximizing the effectiveness of the money we have to operate, maintain, and grow the institution.