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Action on governance report could come in September

by The Concordian August 30, 2011
Concordia’s governance troubles could be on the mend as early as this September, depending if the university’s governing bodies adopt a set of recommendations stemming from an external review.
The 39-page report from the external governance review committee, released in June, outlined 38 recommendations that could eventually lead to ending what the committee members described as a “culture of contempt” at Concordia.
Formed in February, the committee was the product of a joint agreement between Concordia’s Senate and Board of Governors. It saw the light of day in the direct aftermath of the ousting of former president Judith Woodsworth in December by the BoG.
Woodsworth was sent on her way with a $705,000 severance package. The entire scenario was described by the external review committee as an event that “revealed a substantial degree of misunderstanding, blatantly deficient internal communications and a lot of distrust, often bordering mutual contempt, between the various communities of the University.”
Eight months after the flaws in Concordia’s governance structure began to expose themselves, the BoG’s ad hoc committee on governance is preparing to present its report on the ERCG’s recommendations to the full Board at the end of September. Whether the ad hoc committee, or the full board for that matter, will endorse some or all of the ERCG’s recommendations remains to be seen.
“At the open meeting held in June about the external review committee’s report, the chair of the board’s ad hoc committee, Maitre Rita DeSantis, indicated that the ad hoc committee would be studying the report very closely with the intention of moving very quickly,” said Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota. “There were some concerns that this report would be just be sitting on a shelf, but it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.”
The BoG’s ad hoc committee met four times over the summer to discuss the ERCG’s report, said Mota. Apart from DeSantis, the ad hoc committee’s nine members include BoG chair Peter Kruyt, Concordia interim president Fred Lowy, representatives from full-time faculty, part-time faculty, and staff, and one student representative, former CSU president Amine Dabchy.
Mota indicated that the Senate’s steering committee also met twice over the summer, and will discuss the ERCG’s report at Senate’s first meeting of the year in early September.
The ERCG’s report recommended a major overhaul of the Board of Governors, Senate, and the Office of the president. Among other items, it recommended reducing the BoG from 42 seats to 25, which would incude 15 external members and 10 internal members.
Among the internal members, the ERCG recommended that there be two student representatives, down from the five currently in place – four undergrads and one grad student. This is the main recommendation that has Concordia Student Union president and BoG representative Lex Gill concerned.
“If the recommendation is accepted, it would reduce undergrad representation on the BoG to four per cent. That’s unacceptable,” said Gill.
Gill said she still remained generally satisfied with the report’s recommendations, particularly those empowering the office of the president. The report also called on Senate to assert itself as the supreme governing body on academic affairs at Concordia, indicating that the governing body’s priority for the time being should be to adopt an academic plan.
The EGRC’s three members, Bernard Shapiro, André C. Côté, and Glen A. Jones, stood to make $1,000 a day for their work for a maximum of 20 days, thereby costing Concordia $60,000 in remuneration alone. According to an email sent earlier this summer from Concordia spokeswoman Fiona Downey, the final cost incurred by the university for the EGRC’s work came closer to $78,000, mostly due to hotel fees paid for the two members from out of town.

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