November 21, 2017
On behalf of its 200 members, the Mount Allison University Faculty Association is calling on the university’s Board of Regents to affirm that its current search for a new university President will be an open one.
“For as long as anyone can remember, Mount Allison has hired a new President through an open process which includes on-site, public visits by the short-listed candidates,” says MAFA President Jeff Lilburn. “Despite our efforts to ensure that this openness continues, we have not received a ‘yes’,” he says.
Lilburn says that universities as public institutions have always recognized that they are not supposed to be run like private corporations. “The University receives public funding and the Board of Regents has special obligations to the university’s constituents, which includes academic and support staff, students, alumni and the general public,” he says.
He also notes that there is widespread acceptance in Canadian universities that administrators and academic staff– whether they are currently a department head, dean or university vice-president – will apply for higher-level jobs at other institutions and that to do so is not disloyal to their current institution.
“It is understood that university presidents generally come from other universities and it is also accepted that a president cannot be effective unless they have the consent of the university community that they expect to lead,” he says.
An important step toward achieving this consent is to have open, on-campus visits, which allow the community to assess the candidates and make comments to the search committee.
“We appreciate that there is faculty, student and staff representation on the Board’s search committee, but they are a minority of the voices in the room and the only way the community can have an effect is to be able to comment on the suitability of the two or three finalists,” he says.
A new president is expected to start work at Mount Allison next July 1st, and it is the norm that the appointment will be announced in January. “Time is running out for meaningful consultation,” he says. “The Board is not doing a new president any favours if the community perceives that there have not been opportunities for its significant participation in the appointment process.”
MAFA is the exclusive bargaining agent for the 200 members of the university’s academic staff, which includes, full- and part-time professors, librarians and language instructors.