With technology now providing an opportunity to communicate quickly and informally, I’m pleased to begin a series of quick notes in this new blog format. Please check in frequently to get my quick take on issues, activities, celebrations and initiatives affecting Saint Mary’s.
With summer 2017 now upon us, the Saint Mary’s community is working hard on the beginning of the next academic year and the arrival of our newest Santamarians in September. Last Friday we welcomed hundreds of new students to campus in a summer Open House that showcased academic programs, the many support services we provide, and the welcoming community feel that defines us. Thanks to the efforts of professors, staff, numerous offices such as Student Services, the Vice-President Academic and Research, and our colleagues at SMUSA, many new students gained a stronger understanding of who we are and why we do what we do. Friday was about conveying information and building new connections for incoming students, parents and families but it was an opportunity also for us all to demonstrate our commitment to academic excellence, discovery and innovation, intercultural learning, and our university’s sustainability. This is recognized by many supporters external to Saint Mary’s. I offer a huge thank you to His Worship Mayor Mike Savage whose presence greeting new students at the Open House was a strong statement of the significance of Saint Mary’s University to Halifax and our role in the wider community and world.
I have just returned (along with VP Advancement Erin Sargeant Greenwood) from a workshop on ‘Fundraising for Presidents’, presented by Academic Impressions in the United States. This workshop provided up to date analysis of philanthropy in both the United States and Canada and focused particularly on approaches taken within the senior leadership of universities. As we move ahead with a stronger focus on Advancement and continue to refine our priorities for the future under our new Strategic Plan, we are making great progress in building our capacity to encourage gifts and donations that will contribute to our long term institutional sustainability.
Breaking news last week was a decision by the Federal Court of Canada in a case between York University and Access Copyright, the organization that has managed the regulation of photocopying and other duplication of materials in many of Canada’s post-secondary institutions. At issue is the nature of ‘fair dealing’, the idea enshrined in relatively recent changes to the Copyright Act and that allows for a reasonable (but limited) copying of material for research and teaching purposes. Saint Mary’s has been operating under the ‘fair dealing’ provision for the past two years. The ruling of the court is of considerable consequence for all universities as the end of the ‘fair dealing’ provision would likely result in the imposition of a per-student tariff on universities. Such a tariff would likely be onerous and expensive and would create significant changes in the current practices of students and professors. Bear in mind, though, that there is always another side to the argument: Access Copyright’s challenge to ‘fair dealing’ is based on the idea that authors should be compensated when people access their creative work. The case thus brings together important principles within the academy, especially within the contexts of ‘open access’. I expect that the ruling of the Court will be appealed or that some injunction on the imposition of the tariff will be sought – but we are all watching this very carefully given its potential impact on our scholarly work.
This scholarly work is celebrated this week in our hosting of the Industrial Health Safety conference, let by CRC Dr. Arla Day and CN Centre Director Dr. Kevin Kelloway. Saint Mary’s is a centre of excellence in this field and the conference brings together scholars from across the country and internationally. Significantly, this conference is a great demonstration of the way in which academic work is applied directly in the businesses of our nation and beyond, creating an impact that is felt beyond our walls, classrooms and laboratories.
Have a great week!