Board meeting discusses low ranking, sustainability measures

The University of Ottawa’s Board of Governors (BOG) met on Monday, Oct. 30 to discuss university rankings and its progress on sustainability measures, among other items.

Lowest ranking in student satisfaction

During his report, U of O president Jacques Frémont noted that in several cases the university’s ranking in research-related areas had gone up, thanking those responsible for making that happen. However, he noted that in the recent Macleans ranking, the university came dead last in terms of student satisfaction.

David Graham, vice-president academic and provost at the U of O, said he is taking measures in the wake of the raking to improve student satisfaction at the university.

Graham said the university is currently doing surveys on student satisfaction, which are finding that students are more dissatisfied now than in the past. He also said that despite the dip, the university is spending a lot on student satisfaction, and that the money needs to be reallocated in a more effective way.

According to Graham, the university is making a working group to focus on the issue of student satisfaction, one with heavy student participation. Frémont later said the university could be open to a majority student presence in the working group.

Victoria Barham, a board member and a professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, said the services provided to students in her faculty are “catastrophic,” noting long wait times to see academic advisors and a lack of response to questions over email.

Jamie Ghossein, an undergraduate student representative on the board, said that he’s glad for the low ranking, because it forces people to acknowledge the underlying problems. He further noted he and the other student representatives are happy to assist in dealing with the issue.

After the meeting, Ghossein told the Fulcrum that he has also been in touch with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa about the issue. He added that he has faith that the Board of Governors will be able to make the situation better.

Report on campus sustainability

At the meeting, Frémont also presented the university’s first annual progress report on addressing global warming. He said that after the BOG voted at their meeting on April 25, 2016 to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2030, it wanted to have an annual report to see how their objectives were being met.

The report said that the U of O was moving to address climate change on several fronts. For example, it said that new courses like “Animal Studies” and “Future Earth” were being added to the curriculum. It also said that the university wants to coordinate and test new activities to cultivate public awareness.

The report found that the university funds and supports researchers who are trying to find solutions to climate change, especially through its Clean Innovation Research Fund.

According to the report, the university’s finance committee is “gradually tilting the (investment) portfolio away from fossil fuels,” and is working on metrics to make this happen and measure the impact of the shift.