OCUFA at 50: The Beginning
In late 1962, delegates from Ontario’s 15 universities met to discuss the formation of a committee of faculty associations. It was a period of growing optimism and economic expansion in Ontario, and in Canada.
The Committee of Faculty Associations of Universities and Colleges in Ontario, as it was then known, held its first meeting on September 14, 1963, and adopted a new name, The Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations. It adopted a constitution on June 16, 1964.
During its first few years, this new organization responded to the dramatic expansion of the higher-education system and the issues it created, including effective governance, the changing relationship between the universities and the government, and adequate remuneration for faculty. The Committee’s formation also coincided with new financial arrangements between the federal and provincial governments. These changes gave the province greater influence over the development of its post-secondary institutions.
Post-secondary Education In post-war Ontario
After the war, and aided by federal initiatives, veterans poured into the universities — 53,000 between 1944 and 1951 — straining Ontario’s small higher-education system. By the mid-1950s, as the baby boom children began to grow up, the need to expand the educational system was clear.
A 1956 Royal Commission report on Canada’s economic prospects highlighted the country’s growing need for better educational opportunities, and for more university graduates.
Between the early 1950s and 1963, the university population in Canada more than doubled. New universities received their charters and older ones expanded. And thousands of new faculty members were recruited during this expansionary period.
Early Years at OCUFA
The Ontario Council of University Faculty Association’s initial mandate was to formulate policies and negotiate on behalf of the faculty of Ontario’s universities. Its first major research initiative was the preparation of a 1963 brief to the premier of Ontario, University Education in Ontario, which it wrote together with the Committee of Presidents of the Universities of Ontario (CPUO). The Council and CPUO (which later became COU, the Council of Ontario Universities) worked closely together on a number of initiatives. These included joint pensions, salary, and taxation committees. The two organizations also co-sponsored a conference on university affairs in 1964.
In 1967, Charles Hebdon became the Council’s Director of Research and Financial Planning, and its first full-time staff person. And in 1969, the Council moved into permanent offices, at 40 Sussex Avenue, which it leased from the University of Toronto.
When the government first recognized massive expansion, one of the first things the committee of presidents wanted was to set up was what they called the Committee on University Affairs. It would be a body that stood between the universities and the government... and the first important specific proposal was that there be academics put on the Committee of University Affairs, either administrators, or faculty. So the committee presidents and OCUFA set up a mechanism whereby each organization would suggest names to be put on the committee, and it would be a joint submission.
President of Laurentian University, 1972–77; COU Executive Director, 1977–91