While UBC’s Board is tested, others’ are running for cover

“Concordia is looking for a new president.  Salary is $350G and your chances of having to work out your term are close to zero”, tweeted Paul  Wells,

… and for La Presse, “Recteurs à Concordia: trois petits tours et puis s’en vont… avec leurs primes”.

Concordia’s President has been “let go” today, the second president shown the door mid-contract in little more than three years. Five vice-presidents have resigned in as many years, and half of Concordia’s eight most senior administrators now carry “acting” or “interim” tags. Not pretty!

At issue is the way with which these dismissals are occurring, and of course the millions of dollars in severance pay that the university is incurring.

The “shared impression”  seems to be that presidents are “forced to step down” by an inner circle, which makes many of the board’s decisions. Today’s Globe and Mail reports: Of 40 board members, the 23 representing the community at large are mostly corporate leaders. Those 23 votes make up a majority that is “enough to seal most decisions,” Prof. Raudsepp (President of the Concordia University Faculty Association) said, leaving academic voices feeling squeezed out.


“No meeting, no vote, no formal decision. Is that kosher?” Screams the Gazette, who also asks the Concordia Board for an explanation. “There’s no question the board’s officers have been drawn mainly from the world of business: chairperson Peter Kruyt is a vice-president with Power Corp.; his fellow officers include BCE Emergis founder Brian Edwards, Jonathan Wener, chairman, CEO and principal shareholder of CanderelManagementInc., L. Jacques Menard, chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns and president of BMO Financial Group, and James Cherry, president and CEO of Aeroports de Montreal. Only Annie Tobias, who teaches business as well as heading up the Jewish Community Foundation Leadership Institute, is not directly involved in industry or business.” Concordia board chair Peter Kruyt isn’t even talking to his own employer’s (Power Corporation) house newspaper, “La Presse”.

It seems to be a common problem to all Montreal universities, according to Paul Wells: “McGill’s not perfect, but compared to the governance of the three other universities in that town, it is Shangri Frickin La.”


My friend Luc Vinet seems to have been eased out after one term as Recteur de l’Universite de Montreal, while McGill’s Heather Monroe-Blum, now in her 3rd term,  seems to have a firm grip on her Board. Too much stability there?

As I said in one of my past posts, we often see two contrasting types of Boards in Canada: the hostile ones (a dozen Canadian university presidents were sacked by their Boards in the last couple of years), or the completely docile ones. UBC –in my opinion– is leaning towards the latter category, and I, for one, would like to see more push-back, or at least more independent thought emanating from the Board.

A work in progress starting with the issue at hand.

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1 Response to While UBC’s Board is tested, others’ are running for cover

  1. Pingback: “You get the Board you deserve” | Piece of Mind

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