By McGill Reporter Staff
McGill needs to view improvements in diversity and excellence as complementary goals, not mutually exclusive, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum told a Town Hall at Macdonald Campus Wednesday.
In a session attended by about 45 people that focused on the recently released report of the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence and Community Engagement, Munroe-Blum outlined the concerns that led to the formation of the task force in 2009 and fielded questions that focused mainly on how the University can find ways to “expand the pipeline” of candidate pools (for students, staff and faculty) to attract more people from groups who may be under-represented at present, as well as questions on how McGill can better engage students in the classroom.
As well, Munroe-Blum said making the University, both
downtown and at Macdonald, more physically accessible, is a “major priority.”
The Task Force received more than 60 briefs and heard 24 presentations as it considered its recommendations in the three core areas of its mandate.
The discussion also centred on technology as both an asset and a liability in terms of engaging students in the classroom, and on how online lectures and other high-tech teaching aides can actually discourage attendance, which then eliminates vital interaction between students and teachers.
“We have come to rely on technology far too much,” said Chris Buddle of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences. “We need to approach technology as a tool, not as a crutch. I teach a course with a piece of chalk – and the students are there.”
There was also considerable discussion on the need to better support interdisciplinary approaches to programs and courses – and make them accessible to students.
Another Town Hall focusing on the Task Force report will be held at noon, Friday, March 11, at the Cyberthèque in the Redpath Library.
On the web: www.mcgill.ca/ principal/diversityexcellenceandcommunity/