On February 9th, 95% of the 200 attendees at the General Faculty Meeting voted in favour of holding a vote of Non-Confidence in Senior TRU Administration. What led to this overwhelming support?
For the past two years, TRU senior administration has failed to provide adequate leadership for the University, especially in the areas of governance, transparency, adherence to the Collective Agreement, budget decisions, respect for faculty and meaningful consideration of faculty views.
- failure to acknowledge systemic problems and address them collegially, specifically governance and faculty consultation
- open hostility and lack of respect for the TRUFA bargaining team
- disturbing unwillingness to honour prior collective agreements and repudiation of previously held agreements
- initial refusal to share key data, followed by long delays and only partial disclosure of often contradictory or inaccurate information
- breaking bargaining protocol, signed in good faith by both parties, by administration publicly revealing bargaining proposals
- campaign of misinformation and occasional outright lies about TRUFA proposals and positions
Governance and Collective Agreement
- unilateral academic decisions made by administrators without mandated consultation with departments and acknowledging the need to follow governance protocols, demonstrated by arbitrary increase in class sizes, changes to program delivery, and shifting of courses from one department to another
- administrator ordering a department Chair not to consult with TRUFA on workload issues
- management by grievance. In 2014, TRU administration had the dubious distinction of being served with more grievances (49) than any other post-secondary institution in the province
- only a very selective adherence to the Collective Agreement, but only when it suits administration
- failure to resolve grievances in a timely or productive way
- consistent cuts to Faculty and School budgets, particularly in the areas of staffing and student support, show a disregard for the academic needs of academic programs
- unchecked growth in TRU administration, despite cuts to funding by the provincial government, and cuts to programs and stable student enrolment
- poor budget planning as evidenced by the cumulative $79 million surplus
TRU Act Mandate Ignored
- failure to provide educational services to the region, as mandated by law in the TRU Act. Demonstrated by cuts to program resources and faculty at Williams Lake, cancellation of Adult Basic Education courses at Lillooet, Clearwater, and other smaller communities
- the erosion of support for key foundation programs serving local communities
Professional Respect for Faculty
- initiating unprofessional meetings with individual faculty members and pressuring them to retire
- failure to respond in a timely way or, indeed, appropriately to faculty concerns about a Dean that led to a 84% vote expressing non-confidence in the Dean
Has TRU Administration shown a willingness to work collegially since bargaining ended? Has anything changed?
In one-on-one private meetings with the TRU President and Provost, and in the two Consultative committee meetings held between TRUFA table officers and TRU administration, administrators have shown a general unwillingness to address these issues.
The administrative track record since February 15th is proof of this unwillingness to provide effective leadership for TRU:
Failure to engage in meaningful consultation and failure to respect appropriate governance procedures:
- Student intake for the M.Ed. (Counselling) program suspended for 2016-2017 without adequate consultation with the Educational Counselling specialist, and without a full discussion of the possible impact on future student enrolment with the M.Ed. program or with FESW Faculty Council.
- A “take it or leave it” set of options presented by the Dean for changes to a TRU program, without any consultation with department members, and without any of the changes initiated through Faculty Council, EPC, APPC or Senate. Accompanying the options was a direct threat: choose one of these options or have the program subject to Article 3 — Program Redundancy language.
- A decanal decision to arbitrarily make fundamental changes in the delivery of an employment skills program without respecting the need to seek approval for these changes through Faculty Council, EPC, APPC and Senate.
- Unilateral closing of language labs in the International Business building, despite thousands of dollars of investment in software and hardware, and significant time in preparing these labs for the use of international students. Even though the labs will eventually be relocated into one lab in Old Main, the disruption and waste of resources and faculty time is unacceptable.
- Refusing to engage with TRUFA on seeking a solution to the problem that neither Learning Designers nor Librarians have full governance participation at TRU and no representation on the TRU Senate, which is certainly in violation of the spirit of the TRU Act.
- Bypassing the TRU Senate when signing agreements on academic matters with private corporations.
Failure to provide detailed budgets or apply expenditures to support service program delivery.
- A refusal by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts to provide budget support for delivering the service courses offered to other disciplines, along with an accompanying request to cut resources for courses offered as part of the Arts major.
- Failure to provide detailed budget documents to department Chairs or faculty members despite administration asking for “cooperation” in reducing Faculty/School budgets by 2.48%.
Failure to adhere to Collective Agreement or Memoranda of Settlement agreements
- A rejection of a proposal by TRUFA to allow for students who missed the initial student questionnaire administered in class so that TRU would avoid violating the Memorandum of Settlement. TRU administration forged ahead with keeping student surveys open for 48 hours after the class time, despite the agreement that the questionnaires must be administered in class.
- Failure to adhere to the Letter of Understanding #2 provision that requires administration to replace a seconded administrator with a Limited Term Contract faculty member to perform the work normally delivered by the seconded administrator.
- A hypocritical decision by senior administrators to allow a former administrator to return to TRU in a faculty position despite being granted an unassisted leave to take a permanent position at another institution, while repeatedly denying this right to faculty members.
- Refusal to renew faculty Limited Term Contract positions despite the fact that the initial purpose for their posting continues and the same level of work remains.
Professional Respect for Faculty
Failure to treat faculty with professional respect
- Continued refusal to address serious problems with the relationship between a Dean and faculty members in one School, despite a non-confidence vote, which showed that 84% of tenured faculty had expressed no confidence in the Dean. The only response: the appointment of yet another new administrator, an Associate Dean
- A refusal to accept a unanimous appointments committee recommendation for a tenure-track hire.
- The unilateral moderating—in effect, censoring—of faculty posts by the Dean’s office on a long-standing, open access e-mail distribution list in one of TRU’s Faculties, threatening academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.
- A refusal to address the chronic salary anomalies that have affected long-time Full Professors
Failure to be transparent, failure to promote academic freedom,
- Refusal to reveal details of agreements with three resource corporations—KGHM-Ajax, Imperial Metals, and Kinder-Morgan/Trans Mountain Pipeline—despite a TRUFA Freedom of Information request. TRU faculty need to know what benefits TRU has offered to these corporations in exchange for student scholarships, research support and the donation of equipment and services.
- Removing valuable classroom space from the use of TRU programs and leasing them to a private, offshore corporation for private gain.
- Despite a five-year term that always requires an external posting for the AVP Academic in charge of Faculty Relations, administration posted for internal applicants only. Additionally, administration has not revealed the identity of the search committee members, nor allowed for public presentations.
Given this shameful administrative track record, which clearly demonstrates that senior TRU administrators are unwilling to provide the leadership this University needs, the TRUFA Executive has authorized the holding of this non-confidence vote at this time.
What will we achieve with a vote of Non-Confidence?
It is hard to predict what the outcome of a non-confidence vote will be. Sometimes, it provides a strong statement of discontent that creates the needed pressure for systemic change to occur. Sometimes the systemic issues run so deep that change does not occur, even after a strong vote of non-confidence.
However, given the wilful disregard that the TRU senior administration has demonstrated for its leadership responsibilities, we feel that it would be unethical for us, as educators and as members of the TRU and local community not to speak out.
We must be clear that we do not consent to the continued mismanagement of TRU, that TRU requires effective, accountable and transparent leadership, that TRU faculty deserve professional respect and consultation, and that democratic governance at TRU, and indeed at any publicly-funded institution, is essential.
To this end, we must speak out in whatever way we can to protect TRU.
Need More Information?
For more information on the Non-Confidence Vote and background please see http://trutalk.ca/non-confidence-vote-backgrounder/
Over the next week, members of the TRUFA Executive will be holding open house drop-in sessions across campus to discuss the vote and background issues. Stay tuned for specific times and room numbers.