Committee endorses all BoG-related governance recommendations


Graphic by Katie Brioux

The latest step in Concordia’s mission to fix its governance troubles came last week when an ad hoc committee of the Board of Governors announced it was endorsing all of the recommendations stemming from an external review.
The BoG’s ad hoc committee on governance met four times over the summer to pour over the BoG-related recommendations in the external governance review committee’s report. The result is that the ad hoc committee will announce to the full board at its Sept. 28 meeting that it supports all the recommendations, minus a few significant tweaks. Whether the board will actually adopt the recommendations remains to be seen.
The major modification suggested by the ad hoc committee is to include two undergraduate representatives on the BoG, one with speaking and voting rights, while the other, who would be known as the alternate governor, would have speaking rights only. Both, however, would have full voting and speaking rights at the committee level.
The EGRC had originally recommended that the number of student representatives on the Board – currently four undergrads and one graduate student – be reduced to one undergrad and one grad, keeping in mind its recommendation that the board itself be reduced from 42 members to 25.
“One undergrad and one graduate student, that’s quite a reduction from the current undergraduate student representation, but the board is shrinking from 42 to 25, so there’s going to be reductions in sheer numbers,” said Concordia’s VP institutional relations and ad hoc committee member Bram Freedman during a press briefing on Sept. 2. “At the ad hoc committee level, the composition of the board was discussed a lot, and [former CSU president] Amine Dabchy was there and very clear with the dissatisfaction with the reduction down to one.”
Concordia Student Union president Lex Gill said the union remains unhappy with this recommendation, and wrote in an email that the CSU will continue to push for a proportional shift on the board, reflecting the fact that undergrads at Concordia represent over 30,000 members of the campus community.
“The CSU’s position is that the reduction to one undergraduate student is not acceptable,” she wrote. “More than that, the introduction of an ’alternate’ appears to us to be a pretty straightforward attempt to undermine student representation while giving the appearance of compromise. It certainly doesn’t take complicated math to realize that undergraduate students are losing in this new model.”
The four current undergraduate representatives on the board – AJ West, Laura Beach, Cameron Monagle, and Gill – recently sent a letter to the ad hoc committee outlining their position and noted that “currently there is one student governor for every 9,000 students, making up 12.5 % of the Board. If we are to maintain this level of representation, theoretically there would be 3.125 student representatives, or one student for every 14,400 students.”
Some of the other BoG-related recommendations will come into effect immediately at the Sept. 28 meeting, should they be adopted by the board. These recommendations include the formation of new committees such as the governance and ethics committee, and enshrining new items in the BoG’s bylaws, including a maximum of three, three-year terms for external members on the board.
Other, more complex recommendations, including those dealing with composition, will take effect as of June 30, 2012 when a number of board members’ terms are set to expire. The EGRC had recommended that the Board should ultimately include 15 external members and 10 internal members. These 15 external members will include replacements for the four to five governors leaving in September, replacements for those departing in June, 2012, as well as some members who have only been on the board for a few years.
“There will also be some carry-over from who we have now. Some people who have only been there for just a few years still have expertise to bring to the table,” said Freedman.
The EGRC was formed in February through a joint agreement by the Board of Governors and the Senate to mull over Concordia’s governance issues, which really began to take centre stage after the BoG ousted president Judith Woodsworth last December. The Senate’s steering committee studied the EGRC’s Senate-related recommendations over the summer and will be presenting their findings to the full Senate at its Sept. 9 meeting.
The EGRC’s three members, Bernard Shapiro, Andre C. Cote, 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. But 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.
When asked last week if the administration had ever considered having all three committee members hail from the Montreal area in order to avoid hotel bills, Freedman said, “I think people were more concerned with the profiles and the expertise of the committee members.”


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