University acts to avoid censure from CAUT

(This post was previously published as a page and was converted to a post on November 26, 2015.)

Kathie Cameron, Professor,
Mathematics, Chair of the JLC

Jonathan Haxell, Archaeology,
Executive Member

Ottawa, November 26:

The CAUT has withdrawn consideration of censure of the administrations of WLU and the University of Waterloo at its November Council meeting.  CAUT’s motion to consider censure in its spring 2012 Council was precipitated by academic-integrity concerns surrounding the governance document and donor agreement for the Balsillie School of International Affairs that the universities signed with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a private think tank funded by Jim Balsillie.  With the signature by the two universities and CIGI, of a Memorandum of Understanding addressing elements of the governance and donor documents, delegates at CAUT council voted last weekend to withdraw consideration of censure.

Jim Turk, CAUT’s Executive Director, observed “this had been a long and difficult process but one that led to a satisfactory resolution because of the determination of the faculty associations at the two universities and the willingness of the two university administrations to take CAUT’s concerns in good faith.”

At the November Senate meeting, President Max Blouw referenced the fruitful dialogue between CAUT and the University and thanked WLUFA President Judy Bates and the FAUW delegate respectively for moving and seconding the motion that ended CAUT’s consideration of censure.

While the University’s claim that the MOU does not alter the BSIA governance document is technically true, the terms established by the MOU represent a significant departure from those set out by the original documents.  In the realm of academic programming, the governance document provides for BSIA Board approval of programs to be offered at the school and tasks the BSIA with “assisting the universities with curriculum or program development.”  Given that the document also assigns to each part a veto over Board decisions, these provisions afford CIGI, an organization external to the universities, unprecedented influence over academic decisions, including a veto over programs that could be offered at the BSIA.  In contrast, while the MOU does not address the issue of a CIGI veto at the Board level, it does establish that CIGI, the BSIA, its Board or Director do not have any authority over academic programs and are limited to advice and facilitation roles.

The MOU clarifies language relating to the research activities of BSIA members. The original governance document references Board oversight over budgetary decisions and the research direction of the school, oversight by the Director of collaborative research activities, and establishment   by the Board, Director and Management Team of a Strategic Research Plan that “promotes the mission of the BSIA and its collaborating institutions.”  Under the MOU, these potentially constraining provisions are understood to mean that the Board exercises management functions explicitly, other than those related to academic matters, and that the SRP’s direction refers to the broad research area of the BSIA generally and not to individual research projects.  The MOU clearly establishes that BSIA faculty have full control over and the freedom to pursue their research as they best see fit.

Article 14 of the Deed of Gift and Collaboration [donor] Agreement, that established the BSIA, requires that “The universities covenant that they shall consult CIGI with respect to the structure of the CIGI Research Chairs and the Balsillie Fellows … [and] the selection of the individuals granted same.”

It is reportedly a similar provision, ceding influence to an external body over the academic appointment process, that contributed to a rejection by law faculty at York University.  In Waterloo, the partnership did not dissolve.  WLU, UW and CIGI were able to address the issues through the MOU.  It establishes that the universities have full control over the appointment of faculty and chairs and the selection of students and consultation is for information or advice that is non-binding on academic decisions.

The hard work of all involved has resolved the outstanding issues to the satisfaction of WLUFA and CAUT.  Jim Turk observes, “As universities increasingly rely on generous donors to fund important academic initiatives, it is vital that the academic integrity of the university be protected.” П

From WLUFA Advocate, Volume 1 Issue 2, December 2012

About Matt Thomas

I've been a professional librarian since 2001, a father since 2000, and a nerd since birth.
This entry was posted in CAUT & OCUFA, Laurier Administration, WLUFA Advocate and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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