TORONTO, October 3, 2023 – Ontario faculty are deeply concerned about recent and sudden news that Western University will close Brescia University College and merge the institution under Western’s umbrella.
This decision was made without consultation with the Brescia Faculty Association (BFA) or the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA)—in violation of collegial governance procedures and without regard for existing collective bargaining provisions at either university. OCUFA and its 31 member organizations are alarmed by this opaque and rushed procedure, and its implications for the rights of faculty at Western, Brescia, and universities across Ontario.
Western and Brescia announced their plan to shift programs and reassign academic staff without negotiation or consultation with faculty associations or the University Senate. The move reflects the increasing attacks on collegial governance at Ontario universities through top-down non-consultative management from corporate-style University Boards and administrations.
Public universities are not designed to be run like corporations. This announcement is a big step away from the established and functional model of collegial governance that ensures our universities are run effectively, transparently, and in line with the academic mission of an institution. This announcement undermines that structure and it is not clear how damaging the effects of the decision will be.
The University has also sidestepped established collective bargaining processes to push this plan forward. This is not appropriate for a public university.
Any change to the structure of a university—including the proposed Brescia merger—must be conducted in full compliance with existing collective agreements for staff and faculty at all relevant institutions. This is the only fair and transparent approach to ensure that members of the campus community have their rights protected during periods of massive upheaval.
Workers in this country—including faculty—have constitutional and legal collective bargaining rights. It is imperative for all Ontario universities to engage with faculty associations in a fair, transparent, and collegial manner in accordance with those rights.
OCUFA calls on Western University to work closely and meaningfully with faculty and staff associations at Brescia and Western to ensure that any path forward will respect and align with conditions of existing collective bargaining agreements.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at email@example.com