Western University’s Board needs to be more transparent and engaged: Report

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Last week, Western University’s Governance Review Task Force released the its final report. The task force is calling for more transparent and engaged Board governance at the university, in the wake of President Amit Chakma’s double payout scandal.

As the report states, “This has been a very difficult year for Western. The issue of the President’s compensation and the move for votes of non-confidence at the university’s Senate in the spring deeply
affected the community, including the members of the Board of Governors.”

In its report, the Task Force makes a variety of recommendations, including:

  • More regular meetings between the Board of Governors and the Senate, and between the Board and stakeholder groups on campus.
  • A review of what items are dealt with in closed sessions rather than open sessions, with the goal of increasing transparency.
  • Better education of incoming Board members, coupled with refreshed role statements for the Chair of the Board and the Chairs of the Board’s committees;

The report concludes by saying that the recommendations are only a first step, noting that some changes can be implemented immediately and others will take time and effort to secure. It is, however, “critical to persevere and to keep the conversation going.”

The report is the latest chapter in a saga that began last March when Chakma’s double payment was revealed. Since then, the campus has seen two motions of non-confidence, one in Chakma and one in Board Chair Chirag Shah. While both motions ultimately failed, they revealed deep anger over the pay scandal and governance at Western. Shah has since resigned his position as Chair.

Across Canada, university governance is becoming an important issue. As the Western task force reveals, greater transparency and accountability to students, staff, and faculty is needed to prevent future examples of poor oversight and mismanagement.

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