On Tuesday 18 February Academic Senate had its first meeting for 2020. The full agenda is up on the Academic Senate website and papers are available on Truth.  For a quick run-down, here are the Top 5 items discussed at the meeting:

1. Response to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Please note this blog reports on the February 2020 meeting of Academic Senate. For current information on the response to COVID-19 please first see https://www.mq.edu.au/about/coronavirus-faqs

The Vice-Chancellor; and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) both spoke to the University’s response to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and highlighted a webpage to provide advice to staff and students. The important work being conducted to create online materials and support students was acknowledged – including academic and professional staff in the Faculties, and across the DVC(A) portfolio. 

The PVC (Programs and Pathways) outlined:

  • the approval process for units being adapted for online study for affected students
  • online tutoring options for students, and support for tutors who will facilitate online tutoring for the adapted units
  • the primacy of the progression policy for affected students whose academic standing is at a level other than satisfactory

He also highlighted regulatory advice from TEQSA and their support for higher education providers at this time.  

2. Endorsement of Academic Promotion Policy

Last October we heard an update from the review of the Academic Promotion Policy, and early in February members received a draft by email for consultation.

At the February meeting we considered the final draft for endorsement.  Senate discussed:

  • the availability of data for success rates by gender for the most recent promotions round
  • differences between the ‘Learning and Teaching’ job family, and the experience for staff whose appointment is research intensive or research-only.
  • feedback regarding the process of approving an exemption to apply for promotion early (within the first two years of employment at the University)

3. Academic Senate and Committee membership in response to FHS disestablishment.

The disestablishment of the Faculty of Human Sciences will impact both the ex-officio and elected membership of Academic Senate.  We agreed that the current elected members be allowed to serve out their current terms of membership. This included extending the terms of current student members to allow time for the student information system to be updated to conduct an election.

A working party will be formed to consider the future composition including the representation across Faculties. We also noted at the next meeting of Academic Senate Standing Committee, the process for co-opting a sessional staff member onto Senate will be discussed, and that the Office of the DVC (A) is reviewing the terms of reference of Faculty Boards.

4. Updates from ASQC; SLTC and RRTC

We heard from A/Prof Breyer who commenced her role as Chair of Senate Learning and Teaching Committee in late 2019. She identified a need to review the terms of reference of the committee. A/Prof Lavermicocca, the Chair of Academic Senate Quality Committee, spoke to an opportunity for the two committees to work together to conduct a joint review to ensure their terms of reference are distinct, but aligned, and that there are appropriate opportunities for collaboration and communication.

I also invited Professor Pretorius to provide an update for RRTC. He outlined the new leadership team in the research portfolio:

  • Professor Lesley Hughes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity) will continue to work with the Early Career Researchers network and on the University’s gender balance strategy;
  • Professor Amanda Barnier, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Performance) joining the research portfolio coming from the Faculty of Human Sciences. Her work will include the ERA and Impact rounds, Research Centres and eResearch;
  • Professor Simon Handley, Pro Vice-Chancellor (HDR Training and Partnerships), also joining the research portfolio coming from the Faculty of Human Sciences. Several HDR policies are up for review this year, and Simon’s team will co-ordinate this work;
  • Professor Dan Johnson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Innovation) who is joining the research portfolio and the University from the Australian Wine Research Institute. His role will include the work of the CEO of Access MQ.

He introduced Professor Johnson, who attended the meeting as an observer. Professor Johnson spoke of his ambitions to grow research impact and engagement and increase Category 2 and Category 4 research funding.

5. Welcome, Thanks and Farewells

We gave recognition and thanks to:

  • Associate Professor Adam Dunn who is leaving Macquarie to take up a new position as the inaugural Head of Discipline for Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health at the University of Sydney. Adam has been an active contributor to Academic Senate meetings since his first meeting as an elected member in February 2019 and took a particular interest in engaging with student members at student forums and meetings of elected members.
  • Zoë Williams who is leaving Macquarie after 12 years at the University, the past seven leading Governance Services.  Zoë led Academic Senate and the University through a journey to strengthen academic governance including establishing the Delegations of Authority in 2013; introduction of Faculty Rules in 2015;  the establishment of RRTC in 2015; our project to examine the Purpose and Composition of Academic Senate, and the development of a model for Shared Responsibility of Academic Governance.  Zoëalso provided significant support to the Chair and Deputy Chair and we are both personally thankful for our time working with her.
  • Professor Kerry Sherman, who has stepped down as Chair of Academic Senate’s University Medal Committee. Professor Sherman has been in this role over the past four years and led the committee through the changes to the Medal criteria introduced in 2017.
  • Associate Professor Judi Homewood for her work as Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor (HDR RTP). During her time in the interim role she kept RRTC and Academic Senate updated on important HDR policy work.

We welcomed:

  • Dr Belinda Tiffen, the new University Librarian, who is attended her first meeting as an ex-officio member of Academic Senate.
  • Grace McIntosh Kessling, who is joining Senate as the undergraduate student representative of the Faculty of Arts.
  • Linda Breen, who will be attending Academic Senate in her new role as Senior Corporate Secretary.
  • Professor Simon Handley, in his new role as Pro Vice-Chancellor (HDR Training and Partnerships).

We look forward to working with each of our new members!

Student Senators at O Week stall

During O Week several of our Student Senators also volunteered at a stall to raise awareness amongst the student body of the role of Academic Senate, and advertise the opportunity to apply for casual vacancies. Thanks to Sayantani, Jenni, Alexander and Alexei for your initiative.

When is our next meeting?

The next Academic Senate meeting for 2020 will be held on Tuesday 7 April via Zoom. If you have any questions, please email us at senate@mq.edu.au 

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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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