EYES ON I.P.R.M.

This blog entry was actually posted on December 3, 2015.

This article is from WLUFA Advocate 1.1 October 2012.

WLUFA Motion Latest Development in Growing Faculty Discontent over IPRM

In response to growing faculty and librarian concerns over the proposed Institutional Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) Initiative, WLUFA members passed a motion calling on Senators to reject the IPRM process as presently constituted. The motion was just the latest development in growing faculty concern over the potential implications and consequences for the quality and integrity of academic programs and pedagogy, including the diversity of curricula and student choice, in the lead up to Senate’s meeting on Tuesday 16 October 2012.

Several programs and departments, at both Brantford and Waterloo campuses, have been preparing, discussing and passing motions dealing with the IPRM process and the position of Senate as stated in the WLU Act. The whole process could be deemed a breach of the WLU Act (1973) (i.e. illegal), if the IPRM is challenged by the union and ends up being sent to an arbitrator. An excerpt from an e-mail from WLUFA’s law firm, which was read out at the meeting, indicated that, since it appears that the IPRM is a parallel process intended to sideline Senate, so that it becomes merely a “rubber-stamping” rather than a “policy-making” body, it is likely that an arbitrator would side with the union. Several senators at the meeting pointed out that Senate has been told that they can only vote for or against the IPRM; they are not permitted to amend, or in any way alter, it.

Committees established by the administration or the Board of Governors (BoG) are not mandated by Senate and are therefore likely to be challenged as having no actual legal status to affect issues that are deemed to be under the remit of Senate: i.e. academic issues. The IPRM process as presently constituted would lead to non-academics and faculty from different disciplines making decisions about academic programs over which they have no expertise.

As many faculty pointed out, there is already an extensive review process to which all academic programs are subjected and the IPRM would be an additional burden on faculty.
Shifts in justifications for the IPRM, as well as the administration’s resistance to making the process democratic, made many faculty suspicious of the real aims behind this process. The administration eventually agreed to allowing only 30% of IPRM committee members to be elected, which means that it will have selected and appointed the other 70%. Faculty concerns have also been raised by the administration’s claim that the IPRM is a “bottom up” process, which is an odd claim coming from those at the top of the university bureaucracy.

“The IPRM was initially being sold by the senior administration as a ‘bottom up’ initiative. Of course it was nothing of the sort. However, it did provoke a real ‘bottom up’ set of initiatives in the form of opposition to the process by faculty members across not only departments and disciplines but campuses; the resistance to the IPRM was a true multi-campus initiative,” said Garry Potter, who moved the motion.

Questions were also raised about whether the IPRM had been put out to tender. Penelope Ironstone raised this issue because faculty, such as herself, who have administrative responsibilities as program and department chairs, have to attend workshops where they learn the proper procurement procedures for any purchases over $5,000 (faculty have been told that the IPRM costs $30,000).

Other concerns raised included IPRM workshop participants who noted the consultants’ lack of awareness of the specificities of Canadian universities, and that the administration doesn’t really know what it is doing. “There’s no there, there”, as an SBE professor put it.

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