• Overwhelming involvement in committees
• Dedication to student representation
• Works well within the system
• Ineffective communication with students
• Too portfolio focused
• Unattainable campaign promises
Nic Porco is like classical music. It takes a lot of effort and examination to figure out and appreciate what it is he does as Vice-President Academic.
Respected by his peers for his hardwork and sincerity, he truly does care about students. His dedication to the Students’ Union itself is almost frightening–is it healthy to love an institution that much?
Regardless of his hard work, several initiatives promised in his election platform last spring have not and will not come to fruition. According to Porco, his platform had some "misguided" points. His goal to ensure money from library fines to buying new books was unnecessary, as such a program is already in place. The promise of a no-GST Used Bookstore won’t happen either, largely because the SU doesn’t have room in the budget. Plans to increase study space have hit a brick wall of construction delays. Construction eats up space to put study carrels in, so while Porco has input on where new study spaces will be, there’s nothing that can be done now. Similarly, his goal to lower class sizes hit a snag. University President Harvey Weingarten started an initiative to have some class sizes drastically lowered, though that would mean a jump in some other class sizes. Such issues need to be discussed, said Porco, who has "issues with Weingarten’s lack of consultation. He’s a bit of an autocrat."
However, one important achievement is increasing student representation on campus. Porco wants "a student on every committee" and sits on over 40 himself. He’s managed to gain student representation on committees concerning enrolment and continuing education. He hasn’t started many new initiatives, but he refines the ones he’s inherited. The Student Academic Assembly is not his baby, but he refinined the process by having a student sit as the speaker–rather than the VP Academic–and by increasing the consultation that goes into the Academic Policy process. His work with another group, Enhancing the Undergraduate Learning Experience, is more long term. What Porco does for students may not be felt for years to come, but he is improving student academic life.
The few initiatives Porco created have been less successful. His academic townhalls are a good idea, but turnout–even for the best attended ones–has been low. He’s tried different methods to attract students, such as offering snacks, but while free food is usually a good idea, a few of the 20 people who attended the first townhall simply stole the food platters. The SU Poop, an e-mail list he created, has less than 550 members, and is rarely sent out.
While townhalls and e-mail lists are both solid ideas, they lack creativity. Lacking proficiency with communications or publicity, Porco has difficulties advertising his events and successes. Few students know what he does, unless he helps them directly. This is likely due to the nature of his job–the academic position is the least visible of all the portfolios and making academic townhalls sound exciting is no easy task. It requires thinking outside the box, a skill Porco lacks. Described as an "operator and not a visionary," Porco does a good job on his portfolio. His dedication is fantastic, but you’ll rarely hear about it.