Concordia senate appears ready to move forward

Anger has subsided among faculty representatives, but discontent remains

Concordia University’s senate appears ready to move on.

On Friday, the university’s highest academic body approved a plan to bring in a small group of outside experts to study the university’s governance.

The resolution is almost identical to one passed by the board of governors on Thursday.

Little of the palpable anger, which has gripped the school’s faculty since the sudden departure of president Judith Woodsworth in December, was on display at Thursday’s meeting and criticism of the board was muted. Woodsworth’s (alleged) firing, and the events leading up to it, was not specifically discussed.

While the anger may have subsided, there is still a sense of discontent. Many senators feel that faculty has been shut out of the university’s decision-making process and that their concerns have been sidelined by the board.

Interim president, Frederick Lowy, along with the senate steering committee, will choose the outside experts and assign their mandate.

“It seems inevitable that if we’re going to get anywhere we need help from the outside,” said Lowy. Adding that a small group would be able to report quickly.

When questions arose about the composition of the review committee, Lowy stressed that it would not be representative and that its members would be chosen on the basis of expertise. But he said that he intends to “consult widely … I don’t intend to draft this in my study somewhere.”

During the meeting, it became clear that communication between Concordia’s two most powerful bodies has broken down.

Early in the meeting, Lowy referenced communication problems between the board and senate. As well, some senators questioned whether the lack of participation by the board’s executive in drafting the review committee’s mandate and choosing its membership was a sign that the board had not bought in to the idea. However, university vice president, external, Bram Freedman pointed out that the executive committee had been removed from the process at the request of faculty representatives  on the board, due to the senate’s lack of confidence in the board executive.

“I think it may have been taken in exactly the opposite way,” he said.

Several senators also expressed concerns when university officials could not confirm whether resolutions concerning the board, passed at the last senate meeting, had been distributed to board members.

There were also concerns that the board will not implement recommendations from the external group. Lowy attempted to assuage these fears.

“The calibre of the people we’re talking about will have moral suasion of considerable strength,” he said.

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