On Feb. 19, William Hendershot, associate dean (academic) of the faculty of agriculture and environmental sciences, housed at the Macdonald Campus, issued an internal memorandum to program directors and specialization coordinators regarding impending cuts to courses offered at McGill’s satellite campus.
“In light of the severe financial situation of the University, it is quite possible that we will be faced with the need to decrease the number of courses we teach,” Hendershot said in the memorandum.
Hendershot also wrote that he had examined all courses taught at Macdonald Campus, and identified those that did not seem to be crucial aspect of any program. These courses, according to Hendershot, were mostly ones that do not exist as a prerequisite for other courses.
Hendershot asked that program directors also examine their courses to determine which ones they believe to be of lowest importance and to pay attention to classes with low enrollment.
“We need to be ready to manage any cuts in a less damaging fashion,” the memorandum continues. “Remember, that cutting the number of courses doesn’t necessarily mean that we will lose students—most of them will choose their courses from those we do teach.”
However, since the memorandum was released, contradictory statements have been made regarding the correlation between budget cuts and course cuts.
“The discussion [of course cuts] has nothing to do with the current budget situation,” Chandra Madramootoo, dean of the faculty of agriculture and environmental sciences, and associate vice-principal of McGill, said. “It is part of a university-wide process started many years ago to eliminate or reduce low enrollment courses. So it is unfortunate that this is being presented in light of the current budget situation.”
The memorandum included a list of over 60 courses that Hendershot believes could be dropped with the least amount of impact. Fifteen of those courses are in the department of bio-resource engineering.
The discussion regarding course cuts will continue throughout March.
“This has nothing to do with the popularity of the various courses, but rather how critical they are to the education of the students in your program,” Hendershot told program directors in the memorandum.
The date of the official announcement of next year’s course offerings has not yet been decided.