Going Forward

Recommendations to Help Revamp the BoG’s Rep

Former Concordia University President Judith Woodsworth is one of the six administrators whose departure is examined in the report. photo Terrine Friday

Concordia’s Board of Governors may have just received the guidance it needs to begin moving forwards from its problem-plagued past.

It arrived in the form of The External Process Review of Settlements with Senior Management Personnel—a document that makes recommendations concerning the University’s decision-making process as it relates to departing senior administrators.

Board of Governors Chair Norman Hébert, Jr. hailed the report as an important first step in revamping Concordia’s public image. “Reputation is critical,” he said.

In part, the report examines the “mutually agreed upon termination of contracts” of the six senior administrators who departed sometime between September 2009 and December 2010.

“It’s not the people that were chosen, it’s a timeframe,” Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota said. “There happened to be that number of people that left in a fairly short period of time, so it was decided to use the individuals that fell into that time frame.”

Hébert noted, however, that there was a fringe benefit to the six departures that were examined. “Those names are names that have come up in different media articles. People were focusing on that,” he said.

He also noted that “the issue of someone having a severance payment and then going back to a teaching role and having two forms of compensation has been dealt with as well,” presumably in reference to previous president Judith Woodsworth, who came back following her resignation to teach in the translation department.

“We felt that there was a gap in terms of benchmarking other universities,” Hébert said, adding that the BoG was particularly interested in Ryerson University where new President Alan Shepard hailed from. “If we were going to have a good report, we should look at what other institutions are doing,” he said.

Looking forward, undergraduate student representative Lex Gill is optimistic. “It’s good that this happened, and it’s important that it be implemented as soon as possible,” she said. “I hope we never have another situation that instigates a type of report like this again.”

For Hébert, it’s just important to ensure that the university “does things the right way.”

“There are some things when you go through the report that have already been implemented, and others that we will implement in the coming months,” he said. “There have been a lot of great things done in the last 12 months, and we can’t forget that. This is a continuation.”

Hébert feels that now, more than ever, the BoG has the opportunity for reform. Following earlier recommendations, the Board scaled down in size and cleared out members who had over-stayed term limits. Hebert is a new chair working with a new president. It’s a very different university.

“This is a good start,” he said. “I’m confident that we’re going in the right direction.”

This report, he says, will be a guiding force for Concordia governance moving forward. But it’s not meant as a way to linger on past mistakes.

“The past is the past, the future is the future. I think what is important in this review is that it looks to the future,” said Hebert. “This is a new beginning for Concordia.”