On Tuesday 9th April we held an Academic Senate meeting. The full agenda is up on the Academic Senate website and papers are available on Truth. For a quick rundown, watch the vlog and check out the Top 5 items discussed at the meeting below.

1. Senate Project – Shared Academic Governance

We continue to make progress in building capacity and preparing supporting resources for implementation of a shared responsibility model of academic governance. This project is interdependent with Project Beacon and we are leveraging off training and communication for the CMS. I have attended recent Faculty Board meetings to discuss the project.

Two of the Executive Deans presented at the April meeting about their readiness for the new model:

Professor Brammer outlined the current governance arrangements in the Faculty of Business and Economics, and his vision for the future, including a consideration of the balance between ex-officio and elected members and ensuring a cross-pollination of membership of committees within the Faculty and between Faculties.

Professor Handley noted similarities in the Faculty of Human Sciences governance arrangements to those in FBE, and spoke to the differences, which included highlighting the positive experience the Faculty has had in having a member from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences on the FHS Faculty Board; and in co-opting a number of professional staff to the Faculty Board.

The DVC (A) gave an update on unit viability, a project of the Executive Group underway through his office. He highlighted that this project is separate from Shared Academic Governance, however like many projects it has both operational and academic aspects and they are maintaining an awareness of the potential future state of the academic governance to be able to keep in touch with the correct stakeholders.

Professor Brawley, the PVC (Programs and Pathways), introduced a demonstration from the project team on Workflows and Notifications in the CMS. Dr Windon spoke to a diagram of an example workflow, noted the ability for staff to comment within the system and explained that the CMS will have a dashboard that can be tailored to a user’s preference.  Due to time constraints, we were not able to view all examples that the project team had prepared and the slides from Dr Windon’s presentation were circulated.

2. Senate Project – Freedom of Speech, Inquiry and Assembly

The working group held its first workshop on 27 March. The workshop was very productive and stimulated a lot of interesting discussion. Working group members were briefed on the project’s context, including the objectives and progress of French Review and the report published by the Institute of Public Affairs, Free Speech on Campus Audit 2018. Outcomes of the workshop included:

  • The need to clearly articulate, perhaps diagrammatically, how freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of intellectual inquiry relate to each other.
  • The need to ensure that such terms are being used consistently across policy, enterprise agreements and other university documents.
  • That working group members were comfortable with the use and definition of the term ‘offensive’ in our policy documents, as it was subjected to a ‘reasonable person test’.
  • That more thought should be given to how Macquarie policies could better promote protection for academic freedom and freedom of speech.

At the next workshop in May, the working group will discuss freedom of association, particularly relating to inviting visitors on campus, and the University’s Public Comment Policy.

Last week, the Federal Government released the Report of the Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers, undertaken by the Hon Robert French AC. The report concluded that claims of a freedom of speech crisis on Australian campuses are not substantiated. The report did note that protection for academic freedom and freedom of speech could be strengthened by the adoption of a Model Code embedded in higher education providers’ institutional regulations or policies on a voluntary basis. The working group will examine the Model Code at its next meeting.

3. Mudang-Dali: Indigenous Connected Curriculum Framework

The Academic Senate resolved to endorse Mudang-Dali, the Indigenous Connected Curriculum Framework. Some members expressed concerns about the difficulty of embedding this curriculum in some disciplines.  Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy), Dr Leanne Holt, encouraged staff to get in touch with Dr Michael Donovan, the Academic Director, Indigenous Learning and Teaching in Walanga Muru, to start the conversation about embedding Indigenous knowledge (check out this interview with Michael on Teche). Dr Holt stressed that implementation of the framework would be gradual and that it is critical for the University to all work together toward this common goal.  I have asked Dr Holt to bring back case studies on how the framework is being implemented over the next couple of years.

4. Rescission of Graduate Capabilities from 2020

Academic Senate considered and approved a proposal by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Programs and Pathways), Professor Sean Brawley, to rescind the University’s Graduate Capabilities from 2020. In the absence of Graduate Capabilities, Senate supported the need to embed Macquarie qualities and values through course curriculum design.  He acknowledged that whilst there are some examples of excellent mapping to graduate capabilities in some disciplines, in many cases graduate capabilities have been unattached to curriculum development, which render them unconnected to teaching practices and misaligned with curriculum. As the 2020 Curriculum Architecture endorses a course-based design principle, this has led to a more robust set of Course Learning Outcomes than were previously in place, further reducing the need for overarching Graduate Capabilities. Rest assured that guidance will be provided to course authorities to assist with incorporating Macquarie qualities and values through course design and that University documents and webpages will be updated in due course to reflect this change. 

Voting icon

5. Elections for Chair and Deputy Chair

The terms of membership for the current Chair and Deputy Chair of Academic Senate will conclude on 30 June 2019.

As per the Academic Senate Rules, the members of Academic Senate will elect:

  • any full-time academic staff member at level D or E to be Chair of Academic Senate
  • any academic staff member to be Deputy Chair of Academic Senate

The term of office will commence 1 July 2019 and conclude 30 June 2021.

The milestones for this election are:

Milestone Date & Time
Notice of Election and Nominations open Tuesday 7 May
Nominations close Tuesday 21 May
Ballot Draw with scrutineers Wednesday 22 May
Voting opens Tuesday 28 May
Voting closes Tuesday 11 June
Vote counting Wednesday 12 June

The elections website will provide updates as the elections progress.

The next Academic Senate meeting will be on 28th Mayat 9:30am. As always, the Senate welcomes you to observe the meeting. Please email senate@mq.edu.au to let us know you are coming.

Meeting dates are advertised on the Senate website, in This Week, and on the Campus Facebook page.

Posted by Marie Herberstein

I am a biologist and work on the behaviour of spiders and insects here at Macquarie University. I am currently the interim Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic).

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