Here we go!
Another University Council Meeting coming up to discuss non-confidence
Article: Michael Chmielewski – Editor-in-Chief
The University of Regina Council will be meeting on Friday Sep. 27 at 2 pm. This is a special meeting of Council to discuss and debate a petition that has circulated amongst Council members. This petition needed over 50 signatures of Council members, which they attained to have the meeting.
The meeting’s purpose will be to debate the motion of the petition, which is that “The University of Regina Council has lost confidence in the President and Vice-President (Academic).”
Vianne Timmons is the President, and Tom Chase is the Vice-President (Academic).
The rationale of the non-confidence motion is explained in the same petition: it reads that Council has lost confidence in the President and Vice-President (Academic) because “they have harmed the university’s academic mission,” while also “refusing to produce a complete budget,” and also the “mismanagement” of donors’ funds, which has done “grave harm to the University’s reputation.”
When interviewed by the Carillon, Timmons said, “I don’t want one of our faculty out there losing confidence in the administration.” She went on, saying, “I have removed a vice-president position and an associate vice-president position; we’re very lean in administration.”
“I have to think a lot about how to explain to the faculty that the university is very good shape comparatively to others across this country, and that message isn’t out there. I need to work harder on getting that positive message out there.”
The meeting on the 27th will not have the vote of non-confidence, but rather it’ll decide how the vote of non-confidence will be carried out.
The idea of University Faculty holding a non-confidence vote in the administration is not an idea unique to the U of R. It started out in the United States, and has recently come to Canada.
The most notable case was that of Harvard University. Then President Lawrence Summers faced a vote of “no confidence from the influential Faculty of Arts and Sciences,” according to a New York Times news article from 2006.
One big black mark against Summers was a comment he made in 2005 that women “might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science.” Along with ambitious plans to overhaul the University’s structure, Summers was also seen as a bully, and arrogant. After the vote, Summers chose to resign.
Another recent case is that of New York University’s John Sexton. A second New York Times article stated that during his time, tuition rose and faculty salaries stagnated, and he also “raised the university’s profile…raising more than $3 billion, winning approval for a huge expansion in Greenwich Village and assembling a Global Network University of campuses and study centers around the world.” Opponents of his said that he was running the University more like a “corporation than a nonprofit institution.”
Bowie State and the University of Iowa, amongst others in the States, have also faced similar situations between their faculty and administration.
The phenomenon has also affected Canadian institutions, albeit smaller ones than Harvard or NYU.
Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario is one of these institutions. The senate there passed motion of non-confidence because according to them, Lesley Lovett-Doust “seriously jeopardizes” the school’s future, according to the North Bay Nugget. She later resigned.
A more serious case occurred at Athabasca University in Alberta. In a CBC news article, the university community called for the resignation of the President because of illegal donations to the Progressive Conservative party running up to the $10,000 mark.
The University of Regina Administration has done nothing like that, but many Council members have signed the petition. The Carillon attempted to contact many professors, but most wouldn’t grant an interview due to various reasons, some citing job security.
One professor that did sit down with the Carillon is Susan Johnston, Associate Professor of English. As the self-described “prime mover” of the petition, Johnston isn’t shy to speak out. She explains that the Council is a “direct democracy,” and that the non-confidence motion boils down to trust. She poses the following question to her fellow Council members: “Do you trust the President and the Vice President?”