Open Letter from Professor Garry Watson (English & Film Studies) on the Centre for Writers (To be discussed at the General Faculties Council meeting of 30 May 2016)

Dear Colleagues,

Many thanks to those of you who were able to attend Arts Faculty Council on Wednesday afternoon. As you know, the motion was passed to advise the Provost to delay by one year the decision to move the C4W out of Arts into Student Services and to allow the current director, Dr. Lucie Moussu, to complete her administrative term (which goes until July 1, 2017), said delay to allow for wider consultation and further research at least equivalent to the wide consultation and extensive research that created the C4W in the Faculty of Arts in the first place.

If you were unable to attend AFC on Wed and were so inclined, emailing a sentence to President Turpin <dturpin@ualberta.ca> today would be enormously helpful, since he’s chairing GFC tomorrow afternoon and this time-sensitive C4W issue is on the agenda. Something quite brief like the following would work well: “If I’d been able to attend AFC on May 25th, I would have added my vote to pass the motion advising the Provost to delay for one year any changes to the administration or directorship of the C4W.”

My own opinion is that our colleague Lucie Moussu is, by being removed from her position as faculty director of the C4W, being prevented from continuing her research; and since the courses she has developed and taught since her arrival here include an intense half-term-long student practicum (during which she mentors, observes, and evaluates her students’ tutoring in the C4W)—a practicum that should only be run by the Director of the C4W—she is also being deprived of a major area of her teaching.

In my experience at the U of A, faculty in administrative positions are allowed to complete their terms (as chair, dean, or whatever) and are also asked if they want to apply for another term–at which point a wide call goes out for colleagues to comment on their performance. Since Lucie Moussu has had her administrative term cut short, in spite of her excellent work, she’s has obviously not been given a chance to request another 5-year term, nor have any of us had a chance to have input on her performance as Director of the C4W.

No students or C4W tutors have been consulted about this decision–and the University Writing Committee that was supposedly “consulted” argued strongly against moving the C4W under the Dean of Students, claiming that the C4W was a teaching unit open to every member of the university community and was not merely a student service (which is of course clear on the home page of the C4W, which states the following:

We offer free, one-on-one writing support to all students, instructors, staff, and alumni at the UofA — in any subject, discipline, program, or faculty, and at all levels of study and with any type of assignment (research papers, reports, theses, reflections, creative writing, grant proposals, résumés, presentations, articles, etc.).

The replacement of a faculty director with a non-faculty manager of the C4W was never discussed with the UWC, so was decided with no “consultation” whatsoever (see Dr. Moussu’s  credentials at  https://uofa.ualberta.ca/arts/about/people-collection/lucie-moussu, and for a sense of her professionalism, take a quick gander at her 4 most recent annual reports on the C4W site. The 2014-2015 report is 97 pages long!

If you want any additional information, a story about the scheduled move of the C4W in Arts just came out in The Gateway.

And attached is a short summary of the GSA GFC Caucus meeting held at 2 pm on May 26, 2016; the final paragraph is the relevant one, showing that the GSA is opposed to the move of the C4W from Arts:

Regarding Item 13 (“Centre for Writers”), it was noted that following a question at the last meeting of GFC, members discussed the moving of the Centre for Writers from the Faculty of Arts to the Dean of Students Office. However the Provost and Vice-President Academic felt that he did not know enough about the issue and decided it would be best to discuss this at the May 30 meeting. GSA GFC Caucus members discussed and most felt that, as the Centre provided an academic service, it seemed appropriate for it to be under the Faculty of Arts.

Thank you for anything you feel able to do in the next 20 hours or so to delay the proposed changes to the C4W, which otherwise will be final on July 1.

Best,
Garry

[ GSA Document not published here ]

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