Quality money will help better teachers

By Ben Hoffman

The Students’ Union has decided how to spend their portion of the $1 million offered by the university for quality initiatives.

On Mon., Mar. 15, after three weeks of deliberative process and lengthy meetings, the Students’ Academic Assembly came to a tentative agreement on how to appropriately spend the $800,000 offered to the SU. The Graduate Students’ Association received the other $200,000.

In the proposal, the fund is broken down into categories determined by a survey given by the SU last semester. The proposal sees $325,000 going to the 13 faculties equally to create scholarships, while the other $475,000 will create a teacher-training program at the Learning Commons. As well, SAA members were asked which issues they thought were most important.

"Scholarships came out number one, with seven people," SU Vice-President Academic Demetrios Nicolaides announced to SAA. "Teaching development came out second with five people.

"I’ve used the idea of $25,000 for each faculty to spend [on scholarships]."

Most in the meeting were in agreement, but some members thought the money could be best spent in other ways.

"Tuition is ranked very high in importance and low in satisfaction," said Engineering Faculty Representative Wes Ferris. "But, to faculties with many scholarships, I think that adding a scholarship fund will be money poorly spent."

However some disagreed with that sentiment.

"If your concern is that your faculty will not have any benefit, I think that you are wrong," argued Faculty of Law Representative Brian Kahane about Ferris’ response. "I don’t think you have a scholarship for every student in your faculty."

Ferris was the only SAA member to vote against the proposal in a non-binding vote at the end of the meeting.

"We should encourage an environment that will focus on good teachers," he said. "I think it is unwise of us to assume that we can create good teachers [by sending poor ones through the proposed program]."

The most sensitive issue surrounding the proposal is the treatment of teachers who are judged poorly. The University of Calgary Faculty Association President Dr. Anton Colijn agrees the SU is on the right track with their proposal.

"The faculty association is in favour of, and supports, initiatives to improve teaching at this university," said Dr. Colijn. "In fact, we are working with the Students’ Union to develop initiatives that satisfy the needs of both students and faculty."

Nicolaides and SU President Jayna Gilchrist built most of the policy through conversations with U of C Provost and VP Academic Dr. Ron Bond and SAA. Nicolaides said that if the teacher-training program at Learning Commons is successful, Dr. Bond offered to continue funding it.

The proposal was presented to the Planning and Finance Committee Wed., Mar. 17. The committee will make a decision by April and announced the results.

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