Love them or hate them, Program Advisory Committees (PAC) are part of operating any college program in Ontario.  The role of a PAC is to assist the Board of Governors in monitoring program quality and supporting student success. The college describes these volunteer members as providing a “critical link between the College and the community to ensure that programs at St. Lawrence College relate to and are a reflection of our communities”. So how effective is your PAC?

Acting on voiced concerns of our members, your Local Executive Committee (LEC) launched a brief, informal survey of our membership in March 2021 to assess if there were far-reaching areas of concern or if those reported were specific to programs/campuses. A total of 26 full-time members responded, of which, 85% were Program Coordinators. Along with a space for any additional comments, the survey asked participants to rate each of the following statements (Always, Often, Sometimes, Never) based on personal experience. Responses are summarized below.

College management respects and values the role of the PAC by:

  • Attending PAC meetings when appropriate (A-45%,O-20%,S-28%,N- 7%)
  • Contributing to PAC discussions (A- 33%, O- 25%, S- 30%, N- 12%)
  • Considering and following-up on PAC recommendations (A- 11%, O- 15%, S- 46%, N- 28%)
  • Offering support to PAC (A- 41%, O- 18%, S- 18%, N- 23%)
  • Suggesting PAC membership without dictating membership (A- 20%, O- 16%, S- 24%, N- 40%)

While results were mixed, we were pleased to find that there were no overarching areas of concern across the respondents; in fact, some members reported being “very happy” with the process and felt very supported by management and admin teams who assisted in scheduling meetings and ensuring adequate meeting space. Overall, respondents felt management fared quite well in most areas surveyed, with adopting PAC recommendations and assistance in forming PAC membership being the most obvious opportunities for improvement. Some respondents felt very dissatisfied with their PAC experience and reported feeling as though meetings were a waste of time and a box-check noting in the comments section, “If management truly listened to the feedback of our PAC, they would allow program changes and improvements to address the issues raised by our PAC with respect to our graduates”. We understand how frustrating that must feel.

The Vice-President Academic has recently indicated that a new PAC guide is being finalized to assist in making the process more effective. It is important to remind members that according to current SLC guidelines, “The appropriate Associate Dean/Campus Dean, in consultation with the Chair, is responsible for ensuring that an agenda is set, and meetings are called”. If you are having difficulty forming a PAC or scheduling meetings, it is reasonable to request assistance from your manager.

Your LEC wants to hear from you. We will continue to monitor feedback on this and any other topic of concern in order to best serve the membership.