University governance at the top of the agenda for OCUFA’s 148th Board meeting

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From February 20-21, 2016, OCUFA held the 148th meeting of its Board of Directors in Toronto. While the meeting was an opportunity to review progress on OCUFA’s priority areas –university governance and funding; options for university pension plans; and contract faculty and faculty complement – the meeting provided an excellent opportunity to discuss growing concerns with how our universities are being governed.

At the meeting, OCUFA presented the results of a member survey that indicate a high level of concern over university governance among faculty associations and faculty representatives. The state of administrator compensation and the transparency of Boards of Governors were highlighted as particularly challenging areas. The full results of the survey will be used to inform OCUFA’s ongoing work on the governance file. Our next step is to develop a principled definition of collegial governance to guide our advocacy around this issue going forward.

The Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Dr. Reza Moridi, also attended the meeting to discuss the Government of Ontario’s priorities and answer questions from OCUFA’s members. Much of the discussion revolved around university governance, and the Minister shared OCUFA’s concerns with the lack of transparency and openness in university administrations and boards.

Last year, new legislation granted the Ontario Ombudsman new authority to investigate complaints in the university sector. Laura Pettigrew, senior legal counsel from the Ombudsman’s office made a presentation to the OCUFA Board on what these new powers mean, and how the Ombudsman goes about investigating complaints. The Ombudsman is a potential new channel for students and faculty to question and challenge administrators on campus, and faculty representatives are expressed their interest in working with the Ombudsman on governance issues.

During a special lunch ceremony, OCUFA presented its 2015 Lorimer Award for Collective Bargaining to Bill Salatka, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. Bill received the award in recognition of his work to improve the financial analysis skills of faculty negotiators across Ontario. OCUFA was also pleased to present the 2015 Status of Women Award of Distinction to McMaster’s Michelle Dion, for her pioneering work on gender wage gap analyses. The work of OCUFA has been significantly enhanced by the contributions of these two exceptional individuals.

On an organizational note, the Board of Directors ratified the new collective agreement with OCUFA’s office staff. The union had previously ratified the three-year deal on January 22nd.

The next Board of Directors meeting will be held on May 7, 2016.

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