TORONTO, April 6, 2021—Today, the Laurentian University Senate was asked to vote on a restructuring package that included program terminations and also faculty and departmental reorganizations.
The Senators received the notice for the meeting on Thursday, April 1, right before the Easter long weekend, and did not receive the package of materials until the meeting was convened today. The meeting was held entirely in-camera, and the Senate Secretary maintained that the package was covered by the mediation confidentiality protocol. This precludes the academic community from participating in the meeting or knowing what their representatives voted on.
“It’s unacceptable that the university’s senators were asked to make significant decisions about the future of programs at their institution under duress with no time to properly consider the matter or consult their constituents,” said Rahul Sapra, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Academic programming decisions are complex matters that require deliberation and consultation. Asking the Senate to consider and vote on an omnibus programming package, without input on the academic criteria and in the span of a single day during an in-camera session is a clear violation of collegial governance, Senate’s mandate and the responsibility of a public institution to the community it serves.”
In a motion passed at their March meeting, the Senate reaffirmed its responsibility and mandate to pronounce on the academic integrity of the proposals that come before it and to respect its own processes which ensure such integrity on an on-going basis. Virtually all of the departments in the university passed support motions urging their senator to vote in favour of the affirmation. Today’s vote, however, violated the principles highlighted in the motion and enshrined in the Laurentian University Act.
Laurentian University is the first and only public institution to go through the CCAA process due to financial challenges without any help from the government. “The financial crisis at Laurentian is, in large part, a direct result of failed public policy and eroding levels of public funding for the postsecondary education sector,” said Sapra. “Yet, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities has decided to not step in but allow a public university to go through a restructuring process designed for the private sector, cutting jobs, programs and services that are essential to the university community in Sudbury and the broader Northern Ontario region.”
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations 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 or to arrange an interview, contact:
Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director at 416-306-6030 or firstname.lastname@example.org