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Faculty welcome the departure of Laurentian University administrators but call for faculty and governance renewal

·2 min read

Sudbury/Toronto/Ottawa, July 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) applauded the departure of two of Laurentian University’s most senior administrators but warned that the university’s “plan of arrangement” must be accompanied by faculty and governance renewal.

“Whether you call it a firing or a retiring, Laurentian’s faculty welcome the departure of the senior administrators who are responsible for plunging the university into crisis, but we need a commitment that the University will correct the mistakes of the past,” said LUFA President Fabrice Colin. “The fallout from the CCAA process has been devastating and it can’t be reversed without a strong faculty complement and a demonstrated commitment to collaborative governance that includes representation from campus unions.”

“We hope this signals the beginning of the end of a very sad and disturbing chapter in the history of Ontario's universities,” said Susan Wurtele, President of OCUFA. “The Auditor General’s preliminary report made it clear that this crisis was manufactured by bad management from Laurentian’s administration and lack of action from the Ontario Government. This disaster could have been avoided had university faculty been properly included in a transparent and collegial model of governance.”

In February 2020, Laurentian University engaged a Companies Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA) process that triggered the largest cuts ever experienced at a Canadian university, including the cancellation of 69 programs and the loss of nearly 200 faculty and staff positions. The “Plan of Arrangement” filed by Laurentian University to the Superior Court of Justice on Thursday would seek to bring the CCAA process to a close, with a meeting of creditors to be held on September 14, 2022.  The announcement came alongside news of the retirement of Laurentian President Robert Haché and Provost Marie-Josée Berger, to be effective prior to the university’s emergence from CCAA.

“The news that some of the senior administrators responsible for creating the mess at Laurentian will be departing is a welcomed step in the right direction,” said David Robinson, Executive Director of CAUT. “Under new leadership, the University will need to chart a new course to ensure it operates in a manner that is open, transparent, and accountable to its academic staff, employees, students, and the community of Sudbury. The shocking failures that led Laurentian to the brink cannot be allowed to happen again.”

The announcement of administrative renewal follows a campaign calling on Laurentian Board of Governors Chair Jeff Bangs to terminate the President, Provost, and Rector, along with a series of demands designed to support Laurentian’s successful emergence from the CCAA process: https://lufappul.ca/wp/?page_id=2857

 

LUFA was founded in 1979 and, prior to CCAA proceedings, represented over 400 full-time and 300 part-time professors at Laurentian University, the University of Sudbury, Huntington University, and Thorneloe University. Today, LUFA represents roughly 250 full-time and 200 part-time professors at Laurentian University. For more information about LUFA, visit www.lufappul.ca.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 30 member 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 information about OCUFA, visit www.ocufa.on.ca.

Founded in 1951, CAUT is the national voice for academic staff representing 72,000 teachers, librarians, researchers, general staff, and other academic professionals at some 125 universities and colleges across the country. CAUT is an outspoken defender of academic freedom and works actively in the public interest to improve the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada. For information about CAUT, visit www.CAUT.ca

CONTACT: Joel Duff Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) 416-306-6046 jduff@ocufa.on.ca