Concordian: What do you think of the recent external review of Concordia’s governance?
Shepard: The PricewaterhouseCoopers external review was the next and, I think, last chapter in this part of the university’s history. They seem like reasonable recommendations to me. The goal here is to bring more transparency to the governance process.
The external review is tied to something called the Shapiro Report, when the Board of Governors invited Bernard Shapiro and two colleagues in several years ago. That was an important move for Concordia. It took a lot of courage to invite someone else in and do an audit of governance. There were more than 40 recommendations made, virtually all of which have been adopted by Concordia.
Concordian: How is the university preparing for the loss of money from the tuition fee increase? What measures have been taken?
Shepard: No measures have been taken yet. The loss of the increase, in the short term, is only about 0.8 per cent of the total operating budget. We don’t know whether the government will be restoring that money to us in a different way. My pledge is that if we have to, we will make changes to the budget which will not affect teaching and learning. I don’t think that would be fair to do.
Concordian: Has the Parti Québécois contacted the university at all with regards to the repeal?
Shepard: We are, of course, in regular contact with the government, but no instructions about that have been sent yet.
Concordian: According to a recent news report done by The Link, some international students at Concordia are being treated poorly. What has been done to address this?
Shepard: There is an inquiry under way, being done by VP services Roger Côté. It shouldn’t be a long process of months and months. We don’t want to jump to conclusions, whether this is an isolated or widespread issue. I’ve asked [Côté] to report back to me in a few weeks.
Concordian: Do you have an overarching goal for the year?
Shepard: What I would like to restore to Concordia is its internal trust in itself. It’s a strong place. It’s a place where many things are going well. We are going to work with the community to unleash the potential of Concordia. There’s no reason why Concordia can’t be known as one of the best universities in Canada.
Concordian: What firm plans do you have in mind to make this happen?
Shepard: I’m really interested in helping Concordia figure out how we’re going to be a university for the next generation. I think our research side has really developed over the years. What hasn’t kept pace is how the teaching and learning technology has advanced.
This interview has been edited for length.