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Board of Governors finalizes outcome of Academic Success Centre review

After four months, the Board of Governors approved six motions. As a series of approvals and directives, they gesture toward the shaping of a future for the Academic Success Centre, a new student service that takes the place of Writing Centres at UFV, and was notably created without passing through the approval channels of Senate and the Board before its announcement in February earlier this year.

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By Michael Scoular (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: July 15, 2015

 (Image: Megan Lambert)

After four months, the Board of Governors approved six motions. As a series of approvals and directives, they gesture toward the shaping of a future for the Academic Success Centre, a new student service that takes the place of Writing Centres at UFV, and was notably created without passing through the approval channels of Senate and the Board before its announcement in February earlier this year.

“In our board package, we had I don’t know how many pages — it’s the most number of pages I’ve ever seen for any one topic,” says board chair Barry Delaney. “To read through all of that really underlined how strongly held the views were in that community of people regarding the Writing Centre and the shift to the ASC.”

The board’s discussion took place entirely in its private session, which Delaney says was needed — the board is the last stage of approval, and did not believe a discussion with members of the public present would allow for a completely thorough exploration of the matter.

“There was lots of discussion and questions that were quite frank and candid,” he says. “And I worry that if we were in a public session, those candid, pointed questions wouldn’t be asked. And if they’re not asked, then perhaps you have a less robust discussion.”

Delaney adds that this type of review, and the level of controversy attached to it was new to the board, and that the board has the capacity to conduct other decisions that are not of a confidential nature outside its private sessions.

“This is new for all of us, and we’re finding our way,” he says. “Our desire as a board [is] to be as transparent as we can. And we’re taking it right now on an issue-by-issue basis, but our intention is to be increasingly more transparent.”

Senate’s recommendation for a review of the ASC once it is fully operational was passed, with a timeline of one year for its completion.

“We specifically want to make sure that after the first year an assessment [is] done because of the importance of the changes that are being made and the feedback that we received from the community and the students and the faculty,” Delaney says.

Another motion adds the ASC to the board’s annual budget development and approval process. This follows news that the ASC’s budget has required additional funding beyond the $300,000 listed at its creation.

Perhaps the most critical motion tasks the board and Senate, through its joint governance committee, “to establish a process for determining roles, powers, and responsibilities … where clarification is needed.”

Most comments on the Writing Centre-to-ASC change stemmed from the way the decision was made solely at the administrative level. By the time this was brought forward in meetings, the new centre was already in motion, and postponement was not deemed an effective option. Delaney says this was a significant topic in the board’s in camera discussion.

“We do want the board to hold management accountable by saying, ‘Look, how did this happen and how do we ensure this doesn’t happen again?’ in terms of consultation and process and engagement,” he says.

The three other motions thank Senate for the time-sensitive report prepared by one of its standing committees and direct the ASC to maintain its continued development, while also “[ensuring] that high quality support for the development of students’ writing skills continues” as an academic service at UFV.

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