In light of the unexplained and arbitrary dismissal of Concordia
University president Judith Woodsworth, we the undersigned members of the
Concordia community demand a thorough and public review of the governing
structures of Concordia University, with particular attention to the constitution and the powers of the Board of Governors. In light of a series of dismissals and departures from the university’s senior administrative ranks &- specifically, the firing of two university presidents in three and a half years and the resignation of five vice-presidents in six years &- the Board appears to have assumed the role of a modern-day star chamber, acting according to its own dictates, accountable and answerable to no one. It is an abuse of power. As evidence of the Board’s cavalier governing style, the press release announcing Dr. Woodsworth’s departure was released on Dec. 22, just as the university was to close for the Christmas holidays, and sought to deceive the university community and the public by stating the president resigned “for personal reasons” when we now know her resignation was forced by the Board.
These dismissals and departures cost money that faculty members, staff and
students are constantly told the university does not have. They hurt Concordia’s reputation within the academic world and in the eyes of the public at a time when we are supposed to be building that reputation.
They hurt the chances of recruiting future leaders; who would want to be a senior administrator at Concordia knowing the rug can be pulled out from under them at any time and with no explanation? And these decisions run the risk of rendering cynical and jaded the university’s front-line workers — staff, students and faculty members alike — who work in so many ways to make this institution one we can be proud of.
What is particularly distressing about these dismissals and departures is that they serve to overshadow and detract from all the good things going on at Concordia University.
The Board of Governors is the senior governing body at Concordia University, responsible for its legal and administrative framework.
Twenty-three of the 40 members of the board represent the “community-at-large,” but in fact represent a very narrow segment of that community given that the vast majority are from the corporate sector. At its upcoming meeting in February, the Board seeks to cut faculty membership &- from six to four members. Five external Board members sit on the all-important Executive, Nominating and Senior Salaries committees, constituting an elite clique within the Board itself.
As a significant first step in this review, we ask that the Board of Governors issue a clear statement of its vision for Concordia University and how its actions &- including its recent personnel decisions &- serve that vision.
Mike Gasher, PhD (on behalf of 180 other faculty members, librarians and staff)
Associate Professor, Department of Journalism