After anger and outrage over the behaviour of Concordia University’s Board of Governors, Concordia newspaper The Link published an open letter penned by Concordia faculty members on January 10. The letter, signed by 181 faculty members, demands increased transparency in the actions of Concordia’s Board of Governors. It was addressed to Peter Kruyt, the Chair of the Board, and calls for the Board to issue a statement of their actions.
“The Board appears to have assumed the role of a modern-day star chamber, acting according to its own dictates, accountable and answerable to no one,” the letter reads.
The publication of the letter came on the heels of the Board’s dismissal of former Concordia President Judith Woodsworth on December 23. Her departure joins a series of unexplained shifts in the senior administrative ranks, including the removal of five Vice Presidents and one President in the last six years.
In addition to the letter, the Concordia University Faculty Association (CUFA) issued a motion at a January 17 meeting, calling for Kruyt and the vice-chair of the Board to step down. “This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue,” wrote the CUFA on their website, “the reputation of the University has been tarnished and the morale of the university community has been eroded.”
Many members of Concordia’s academic community also question the Board’s management of university funds. Several of the senior administrators who have been asked to step down by the Board have received large severance packages.
“These dismissals and departures cost money that faculty members, staff and students are constantly told the university does not have,” read an open letter addressed to Kruyt, “it’s an abuse of power.”
In reply, Kruyt released a letter on January 12 to the Concordia community stating his reasons for withholding specific details surrounding Woodsworth’s departure. Kruyt wrote, “Notwithstanding our support of the principle of transparency, good governance requires, among other things, that the Board respect confidentiality agreements in conducting the business of the University.”
Free Education Montreal (FEM), a Montreal-based advocacy group formed to eliminate tuition, has insisted that the entire Board should resign. “The board is tainted by hubris,” says their website. “It has engaged in behaviour unbecoming of members of a collegial institution.”
FEM also calls upon Line Beauchamp, Minister of Education, Recreation, and Sports for the Quebec Liberal Party, to create an inquiry into the actions and motives of the Board.
In response to the events, Beauchamp expressed distress to the Gazette and said she is watching the proceedings at Concordia intently.