Concordia’s Governance Jury
Concordia has turned to former McGill Principal Bernard Shapiro for help guiding the university out of a leadership crisis that is now nearly three months old.
In the wake of the controversial dismissal of President Judith Woodsworth on Dec. 22, Shapiro will chair a three-person committee that will review the university’s governance and recommend how to fix a structure criticized by both students and faculty.
Along with André Côté, Quebec’s first Lobbyist Commissioner, and Glen Jones, Ontario’s Research Chair on Post-secondary Education Policy, Shapiro’s committee will have only 60 days to investigate the situation and report to interim President Frederick Lowy.
“You can’t rush a process like this,” said Concordia Student Union President Heather Lucas. “Students, who are the biggest stakeholders in this, will be in exams when the committee will be looking for written submissions.
“Not only is the time short, but it’s not scheduled correctly. This defeats the whole purpose,” said Lucas, who was still supportive of the committee’s members and mandate.
“Some felt that 60 days was not long enough to get the job done, they were pushing for 90 days,” said university spokesperson Chris Mota. “But Dr. Lowy explained that 60 days is a window and the committee will probably be working for 20 days to get all the information in and build their report.”
At a university Senate meeting on March 18, Lowy explained that the shorter 60-day period was necessary because he needed the committee’s recommendations before the terms of 39 of the university’s 40 governors expire at the end of June.
The committee will be investigating how governors are appointed and the proper length of their terms.
Concordia’s student governments and faculty representatives expressed some outrage in early January when it was discovered that more than half of the external governors on the Board were sitting past the recommended limit of two consecutive three year terms.
Lucas expressed concern with the price tag for the committee. With each of the three members being paid $1,000 a day for their services, the report could cost upwards of $60,000.
“It’s the going rate for that kind of consulting,” responded Mota.
With the meeting schedule being squeezed between student exams and the end dates of most of Concordia’s governors, the committee will be operating in a charged atmosphere.
“Dr. Lowy prefers to not let this go on longer than necessary,” said Mota. “No want wants that. The feeling seems to be, ‘Lets move forward with this and get it done.’”
According to Mota, it is unclear when the committee will start meeting and how it will conduct its affairs, either by conference call or in person.
Despite the concern from Lucas, Concordia’s Graduate Student Association is supporting Shapiro and the decision to keep the meeting schedule short.
“If they keep it open, it will take forever,” said GSA President Adnan Abueid. “If they want to understand everything, they would need to be a part of Concordia.
“The committee has a mandate to look for problems and solutions in Concordia, that’s it.”