At its meeting on Sept. 6, 2016, Senate passed motions requesting an open call for internal, academically-qualified nominations for the position of Acting President and Vice-Chancellor, as well as a request that the Board of Trustees extend the term of the current Acting President, Mr. Brian Hutchings, until Sept. 30, 2016.
The Board was responsive to these Senate motions in welcoming nominations from the Brock community and extending Mr. Hutchings’ term only to the end of September. It should be noted, though, that the Board may decide, on Sept. 30, to appoint Mr. Hutchings for a further term lasting until June 30, 2017. However, we are aware that several strong internal academic colleagues have now been nominated.
We appreciate the Board of Trustees’ willingness to act in accordance with the first two Senate motions. However, on Sept. 6, Senate also passed a third motion requesting that it be given an opportunity to provide the Board with feedback on its shortlisted candidates. The Board of Trustees decided to deny Senate this consultation.
This refusal to set up a process by which Senate could give feedback on candidates for Acting President continues a practice of closed searches for the most important position at the University – a practice that very recently has been associated with a spectacular failure. In making its decision, the Board has chosen not to benefit from the collective wisdom and experience of Senators. This refusal is especially hard to understand, given Senators (and many other members of the Brock community) would likely be familiar with all of the internal candidates and thus able to provide important and relevant information to inform the Board’s decision. We note here that BUFA’s stance has been that the whole Brock community, not just Senate, should be consulted regarding the suitability of shortlisted candidates for the President’s position, a process that we follow for the appointment of Deans and Vice-Presidents.
This is a critical time in the selection process of the Acting President and Vice-Chancellor, between the submission of nominations and the Board’s decision. A small subcommittee of Board members has been set up to review the nominations, invite candidates for interviews, perhaps engage in other unspecified activities related to the search, and then make a recommendation to the Board. All of this work will be done in secret.
What can we do now?
If you believe that an academic background and experience are necessary prerequisites for the job of Acting President and Vice-Provost, we urge you to write to the Board and express this view. Even if you emailed the Board Chair two weeks ago, we call on you to write again – as Gertrude Stein once said, “There is no such thing as repetition. Only insistence”.
You are encouraged to write to the Board either individually or as a unit. For example, last week the Chairs and Directors of the Faculty of Social Sciences unanimously approved the following motion: “That the Faculty of Social Sciences Faculty Council strongly recommend to the Board of Trustees that an academic be appointed as Brock’s Acting President”. This motion has been forwarded to the Board Chair.
In addition, you also could write to the Board in support of all of the academic nominees of whom you are aware and whom you believe would make a good Acting President.
This is likely our last chance to let the Board know what we think is best for Brock before the Board makes its decision. Communications to the Board should be addressed to Mr. John Suk, Chair of the Brock University Board of Trustees, c/o Chabriol Colebatch at [email protected]. Please include a statement that you want your communication to be sent to all Board members.
If you have questions or comments for BUFA, please send them to us at [email protected].
Linda Rose-Krasnor, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
President, Brock University Faculty Association
1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, MC D402
St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1
Phone: (905) 688-5550 ext. 3268