On Campus

U of M deans can't grant degrees

After tense debate, controversial Senate motion to grant Dean of Graduate Studies sweeping powers tabled--for now

Faculty members at the University of Manitoba refused to pass a motion at a Senate meeting Wednesday that would have given the dean of Graduate Studies the authority to waive certain academic requirements when resolving student appeals.

The Senate Committee on Rules and Procedures recommended that granting the dean authority to waive academic requirements was consistent with the university’s policy to resolve student appeals at the lowest level possible.

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The motion read: “Senate, based upon the University bylaw granting Deans a broad and general oversight of the ‘general supervision and direction over the Faculty’ and the approved Academic Guide of the Faculty of Graduate Studies which tasks the Dean with seeking informal solutions to student appeals before a hearing, rule that the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies has jurisdiction to waive academic requirements.”

The motion was brought before Senate after math professor Gabor Lukacs took legal action against the university over what he believed was an unfair decision on the part of Dean of Graduate Studies, John Doering, to award a student their PhD without passing a comprehensive PhD exam required to graduate.

Although several faculty members indirectly referred to Lukacs’ ongoing battle with the university when discussing the motion, U of M president David Barnard steered the conversation away from the case. Barnard explained that, considering it is an ongoing personnel matter, it was inappropriate to discuss details of the case during open session.

Over half a dozen faculty members expressed their concern with passing the motion. Some members felt that it would essentially give the dean the power to grant degrees, which was particularly concerning in regards to granting degrees at the Masters or PhD level.

U of M Graduate Students Association president Meaghan Labine pointed out that there needed to be a more consistency in the appeals process and  “a greater definition of what deans can do.”

Senate members voted to table the motion for further review by the Senate Executive Committee.

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