The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) and Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) Academic Advisory Committee
Terms of Reference
- To advise and assist the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, an agency of the Council of Maritime Premiers, in assuring the quality of new and modified academic programs at post-secondary institutions included within its scope and as defined below.
- To that end, the Committee shall:
- Carry out in-depth assessments of new or modified post-secondary programs, within the parameters established by the Commission as described in the Policy on Quality Assurance.
- As appropriate, review and comment on the institutional assessment of programs approved by the MPHEC.
- Advise the Commission on the appropriate evolution of the Policy on Quality Assurance, in the light of experience.
- Advise the Commission on issues to be researched and assist in carrying out projects deemed necessary and appropriate, by the Committee and/or the Commission, as they relate to quality assurance or academic planning.
Objective of the program assessment process
- The overall objective of the program assessment process, as stated in the Commission’s Policy on Quality Assurance, is to ascertain the suitability of the program in light of its objectives, structure, content, resources, and stated student outcomes and their relevance, through, as required, an iterative process.
- Stage II program assessments, for which the Academic Advisory Committee is responsible, may be undertaken when a program proposal does not satisfactorily meet the criteria for Stage I approval. The process is as follows:
- Staff prepares an analysis of the proposal and identifies any issues which arise.
- The Academic Advisory Committee reviews the proposal and any comments received from other institutions and other stakeholder groups.
- The Committee may request additional information and/or the advice of experts in the field.
- The Committee may elect to forward suggestions or recommendations to the institution to resolve the issues. Once the issues are resolved, or once the Committee concludes that resolution is not possible, the Committee then forwards its final recommendation to the Commission.
- In addition to carrying out Stage II assessments and reviewing institutional program assessments, Committee members are also responsible to review and comment when appropriate, on an individual basis, on all program proposals being assessed through a Stage I assessment, given that these proposals will not be discussed in Committee meetings.
- The Committee is composed of eight members, including the Chair.
- Three members are appointed by the Chair of the Commission, for a term of three years.
- Three members are appointed by the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), for a term of three years.
- Two Committee members are students of which one is selected by the AAU and the other by the MPHEC following a joint process for nominations.
- Ideally, at least one of the members has expertise with community college programs or university/college articulation.
- The terms should overlap to ensure continuity.
- The Chair of the Committee is a Commission member appointed to the Committee and designated by the Chair of the Commission.
- A majority of members (half plus one Committee member) represents quorum.
Committee’s scope of authority
- Committees are instruments of the Commission. A Committee’s work products are the property of the Commission.
- Committee members and Chairs may not speak or act for the Commission except when formally given such authority for specific and time-limited purposes. Such authority will be carefully stated in order not to conflict with the authority delegated to the Chair of the Commission and the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. Committee members and Chairs cannot exercise authority over staff, and normally have no direct dealings with staff operations. Extraordinary requests for resources made by a Committee must be approved by the Commission.
Link to AAU
- The AAU representatives to this Committee shall report to the AAU Secretariat any issues/opportunities that require the action/involvement of the member institutions. Minutes of meetings shall be forwarded to the AAU in a timely fashion.
- The attendance of the Chief Executive Officer, or designate (normally, a staff member), at all Committee meetings as a resource and staff support is essential to the effective work of Committees and to ensure proper and on-going alignment with the Commission’s business plan. However, staff’s primary accountability is to the Commission as a whole even when assigned the role of Committee resource.
- The Committee has the authority to engage outside consultants as required to assist in its functions.
Policy on Conflict of Interest
- Members sign an Oath of Office declaring that they will adhere to the Commission’s Code of Conduct, including its Policy on Conflict of Interest:
Members shall act at all times in the best interests of the Commission rather than particular interests or constituencies. This means setting aside personal self-interest and performing their duties in transaction of the affairs of the Commission in such a manner that promotes public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the governing body.
No member shall directly or indirectly receive any profit from his/her position as such, provided that members may be paid reasonable expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties and the honorarium, as set by the Premiers (new legislation: Ministers). The interests of immediate family members or close personal or business associates of a member are considered to also be the interests of the member.
Members are expected to avoid conflicts or the appearance of conflicts between their duties as a public appointee and their personal or business interest.
An actual or potential conflict of interest arises when a member is placed in a situation in which his or her personal interests, financial or otherwise, or the interests of an immediate family member or of a person with whom there exists, or has recently existed, an intimate relationship, conflict or appear to conflict with the member's responsibilities to the Commission, and the public interest.
Members shall not use information obtained as a result of their appointment for personal or commercial benefit.
A conflict of interest may be “real”, “potential” or “perceived”; the same duty to disclose applies to each.
Full disclosure, in itself, does not remove a conflict of interest.
Principles for managing conflicts of interests
In consultation with the member, and in the light of the specific nature of the conflict, the Chair and member may determine the appropriate response to the circumstance, as follows:
- the member must withdraw from any discussion or decision-making process leading to a recommendation on the proposal; or
- the member may remain in the meeting and participate in the discussion but refrain from voting; Fall2012or,
- the member may remain in the meeting and participate in the discussion and in the voting.
In all cases the Chair will advise the governing body as a whole of the conflict, and of the outcome above, with reasons.
Should the Chair be in a conflict of interest, the Chair will either (a) withdraw from any discussion or decision-making process leading to a recommendation on the proposal, or (b) ask the governing body to decide whether the Chair may remain in the meeting, participate in the discussion while refraining from voting, or remain in the meeting, participate in the discussion and in the voting.
It is the responsibility of other members who are aware of a real, potential or perceived conflict of interest on the part of a fellow member to raise the issue for clarification, first with the member and, if still unresolved, with the Chair.
Rules with regards to program proposals or specific funding request/issue
When Commission members (or Committee members) are directly associated with the university whose program proposal or funding request is under consideration, the member must, at a minimum, abstain from the final vote (or final recommendation/advice to Commission in the case of a committee). The abstention is noted in the minutes if requested by the member or Chair. In the event that this member is the Committee Chair, an alternate Chair is assigned for the consideration of the program proposal in question.
Appointed by the AAU:
Elizabeth Church, Mount Saint Vincent University
Robert MacKinnon, University of New Brunswick (Saint John)
Heather Hemming, Acadia University
Ben Whitney, Student Representative
Appointed by the MPHEC:
Dale Keefe, Cape Breton University
Christian Lacroix, (Chair) University of Prince Edward Island
Jordan Warford, Student Representative