Profs upset with grad school membership

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By Tamsin McMahon

Ryerson’s school of engineering is fuming over which teachers will be able to supervise master’s students — even though the school isn’t offering any graduate programs yet.

Proposals for several master’s and PhD degrees are in several stages of approval. Most recently, the engineering department proposed offering a master’s engineering degree, which is being looked over by Ryerson’s associate v.p. academic.

The degree would be offered by 2000 to be eligible for funding through the provincial government’s Access to Opportunities Program (ATOP), which is meant to double computer science and engineering grads.

Graduate programs at Ryerson have been in the works since the school became a university in 1993. Ryerson is already going ahead with plans to offer graduate degrees in applied geography with the University of Toronto, communication and culture with York University and environmental science.

Of the 127 faculty who applied to teach in Ryerson’s school of graduate studies, over half were engineering professors.

But when appointments were handed down by the graduate council last month, many professors didn’t meet the requirements to become full members. Instead, they were either made associate members or asked to send more information, prompting some angry E-mail discussions among faculty.

“I’m not 100-per-cent happy, for sure,” said electrical engineering professor Bobby Ma, who was denied membership.

Diane Kennedy, an electrical engineering professor and one of three people in charge of recommending who should be given membership, said she was surprised the appointments had upset so many faculty.

“I was taken aback,” she said. “We did not mean to generate the kind of response we got. We thought the process went very smoothly.”

She said professors’ complaints were so public, with many made over E-mail, that it was difficult to respond to them.

“Your hands are tied because you can’t comment on individual cases in a public forum,” she said.

To be given full membership, faculty must have worked with graduate students, have recently be published and be tenured. Those people who didn’t have tenure were given associate membership.

However, mechanical engineering professor David Naylor, who received full membership, said the tenure requirement wasn’t clearly stated in the notices sent out to faculty.

For mechanical engineering professor Zouheir Fawaz, the problem lies with the restrictions placed on associate members’ duties.

Fawaz, an associate member at Ryerson and the University of Toronto, is allowed to independently supervise master’s students at U of T, but at Ryerson professors would only be able to supervise master’s students under a full member’s direction.

“Ryerson should give its members some leeway,” he said. “We’re not asking them to be more permissive than other schools but at least to have comparable rules.”

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