Faculty at Nipissing University welcomed the release of a report on improving collegial governance at their institution on November 3. The report was prepared by a Special Governance Commission that was established as part of the deal that ended the Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) strike a year ago in November 2015. The erosion of collegial governance was a key issue in that round of bargaining.
“As our members reflect on the anniversary of the first strike in the history of Nipissing University, they can take heart that some concrete measures are being taken to address governance problems at the university,” NUFA President Susan Srigley noted in BayToday. NUFA is urging the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
The Special Commission’s goals were to determine whether Nipissing University’s joint governance structures, practices and procedures reflect best practices across Canada, and to help improve governance and collegiality at Nipissing with the hope of contributing to the resolution of existing internal conflicts and avoiding future problems.
After nine months of discussion and analysis, the Special Commission’s report put forward several recommendations including:
- The creation of a Senate Budget Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Board on allocation of resources for academic purposes, and that this Committee is advised of the schedule for preparing the annual budget and provided with a draft budget.
- Modifications to the policies for hiring Non-Academic Vice-Presidents to require input and participation from Senate.
- The creation of a Standing Joint Committee of the Board and Senate on Governance to:
- Review governance structures and practices at least annually in order to foster bicameral communication and collegiality.
- Prepare a procedure for providing a joint orientation for new members of the Board and Senate to promote effective governance.
- Generate a statement on the importance of collegial governance at Nipissing to be endorsed by the Senate and Board.
- Consider any issues that arise at Senate or Board concerning lack of civility and decorum that cannot be addressed under existing policies, and make recommendations as may be advisable.
The report is an important first step towards addressing governance problems at Nipissing University. If implemented it “will create new mechanisms that ensure faculty voices will be heard on issues relating to the academic mission of the university,” says Srigley.
The Special Governance Commission included two faculty members elected by the Academic Senate, two members of the Board of Governors, and a representative from the Student Union with an Independent Chair.