Former Concordia Students on Kruyt

‘We stand ready to contribute to the development of our alma matter’

Dear Mr. Kruyt,

We, the undersigned former students of Concordia, are writing to express our deep concern over the governance of Concordia University. Many of the signatories to this letter have been directly involved in the governance of Concordia University and the many student organizations at this institution.

Having helped to shape what the university is today, we are extremely alarmed by recent events. Concordia is not merely the bricks and mortar of its ever-growing campus. It is a great university that challenges its students to critically engage with the world around them.

We are writing today to add our voices to those of Concordia faculty, students and staff who have expressed concern over the untimely departure of President Judith Wordsworth and the Concordia Board of Governors’ lack of openness, transparency and forthrightness on this matter. The reasons surrounding her departure and the settlement paid to her have not been made clear. Moreover, the entire process involved in the termination of her employment has been shrouded in secrecy.

We are especially concerned about this matter because President Woodsworth is the second president in three years to be forced out. In the fall of 2007, Dr. Claude Lajeunesse resigned in a similar manner, with a golden parachute of over $1 million. At the time, the many questions respecting the reasons for the abrupt departure were left unanswered by the Board.

These and other departures of senior administrators come at a high cost to an institution whose operations are paid for by the public and its student body. As many of us continue to pay off large student loans incurred in order to study, it is difficult for us to fathom how an institution that routinely claims to be barely making ends meet manages to justify spending millions of dollars paying senior administrators to leave.

Lastly, we wish to make it clear that the statement issued by the Concordia Alumni Association on Jan. 14, 2011 with regards to this matter does not represent the views of the many alumni who have signed this letter.

As chair of the Concordia University Board of Governors, we call on you to:

1. Make public the amount of all payouts (and existing liabilities) to senior university administrators over the last five years.

2. Clearly identify what process was followed, and all of the individuals involved in the decision-making regarding all departures of senior administrators over the last five years, and make public any documentation that exists, including minutes of meetings, where such decisions where discussed.

3. Provide an honest and full description of the events that led to the departure of Dr. Judith Woodsworth.

4. Resign your position as chairperson of the Concordia University Board of Governors.

Until the actions outlined above have been taken, the Board of Governors will not have our confidence.

In addition, we call for a complete review of the governance of Concordia University that meaningfully includes students, staff and faculty with the goal of democratizing the university’s governance structure and reducing the influence of external members on the university’s Board of Governors. To have credibility, this review must be public.

There is no question that Concordia’s Board of Governors is experiencing a deep crisis of confidence. It is not, however, too late to undo the damage. Answering the questions and taking the actions put forward in this letter in a timely manner will go a long way to rebuilding trust with the Concordia community.

We sign this letter as proud Concordia alumni who remain deeply committed to Concordia University’s continued success as an institution rooted in its community. We stand ready to contribute to the further development of our alma mater.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 20, published January 25, 2011.