Dear Dr. Dagg,
I appreciate your e-mail to the TRU community, which I have copied below, in light of the 81% non-confidence vote by TRU faculty.
Despite your claim that TRU has “a robust shared governance model in place,” TRU faculty members have repeatedly and consistently provided me with examples of top-down, unilateral and arbitrary decision-making without adherence to the very governance structures to which you refer. In fact, in too many cases, administrators have either failed to bring important issues to the appropriate Faculty Council for full discussion and decision, or–more disturbingly–have defied a majority vote by a Faculty Council. Many of these decisions, as well, are taken without a full evaluation of the impact on our programs and our students. In some cases, unilateral major changes to existing programs are being proposed without adequate consultation with Program Advisory Committees or the community families and agencies that may be impacted.
It is not only this lack of respect for these governance bodies that, in my view, has led to the results of the non-confidence vote. The lack of professional respect for faculty members shown by some administrators has also been a prime factor in the significant discontent expressed by TRU faculty. Just this morning, I received yet another e-mail from a colleague who reports actions undertaken by an administrator without any regard for due process or even compassion for a fellow professional. In fact, for the past number of years, I have had numerous faculty members, many of whom have been builders of key academic programs, come to me — sometimes in tears — saying that they no longer feel that they are being respected. They tell me that morale among faculty is at its lowest in the history of the institution, and we have seen premature retirements of senior instructors because they no longer felt that TRU was a positive, supportive environment in which to work. They all said that they loved being academics, they wanted to do the best for their students, but the workplace had become an arena of conflict, rather than a place of collegiality.
Not only have we seen actions taken without appropriate consultation or respect for governance procedures. Unfortunately, TRU faculty have also experienced at least one serious example of a failure to act. When faculty members, after a long and fruitless attempt to have issues addressed by their Dean, were driven to conduct a vote of non-confidence in which over 80% of them expressed a lack of confidence in that Dean, the response from TRU senior administration has been inadequate and disrespectful.
In your e-mail and your public statements on air this morning, you claim that TRU faculty and TRUFA have not brought concerns to the attention of senior administration. This is just not true. Over the past year, on behalf of TRU faculty, TRUFA has raised these concerns repeatedly. Unlike violations of the Collective Agreement, which can be dealt with through the grievance procedure, failures of governance and failures of professional respect cannot be resolved without a commitment from both sides to acknowledge, address and resolve the issues. On behalf of our members, TRUFA has always expressed a desire to meet and attempt to resolve these concerns. Over the past two months since the ratification of the mediator’s recommendations, I have met with the TRU President and Provost, with the AVP Academic in charge of Faculty Relations, with the AVP Human Resources, and with the Director, Human Resources, and TRUFA table officers have met with administrators twice in the context of the Labour Management Consultative Committee. When we gave specific examples of serious governance failures, we received no indication that senior administration was willing to address–let alone acknowledge–these failures.
I would urge you and the TRU administration to provide a safe, closed door forum for TRU faculty — not just TRUFA — to express their profound concerns. I truly believe that faculty and administrators alike are fully committed to seeing that TRU upholds its long tradition of superior post-secondary education. In order for TRU to be a University that can continue to recruit students and faculty and deliver high quality programs, however, change is required.
Dear TRU Community,
As chair of the TRU Board of Governors, I am writing on behalf of the board concerning the TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA) vote of non-confidence in senior administration at TRU.
While we have no formal process to follow a vote such as this, we do respect what faculty members at TRU have to say. The members of all our governing bodies, whether elected or appointed, are committed to acting in the university’s best interests-and our top priority, always, is our students.
We take the concerns of our faculty very seriously, however we are disturbed by TRUFA’s approach to this issue and by their targeting of individuals, utilizing media to convey their grievances before engaging with any governing bodies to address the issues at hand. Faculty members are on committees at every level of the institution. The Board of Governors works directly with many faculty members, and takes much of our guidance from Senate and the many committees of Senate which are well-represented by faculty. There is a robust shared governance model in place. We ask that all of our faculty continue to participate fully in these committees and in respectful dialogue, so that we can find shared solutions and move forward.
We look forward to fully engaging with our faculty and urge collegial discourse. We are also encouraged by the work of our senior executive, who have already proposed various strategies to improve internal communications and inspire more constructive interactions between all our stakeholders.
The TRU executive has expressed to us their commitment to being more available for input and conversation and to creating more accessibility and transparency. We are hopeful that TRUFA is similarly committed to moving forward and will genuinely work towards finding solutions to the concerns of all faculty with the senior administration of TRU. With both parties at the
table and fully participating,we are confident that TRU governance will be responsive to all members of the TRU community, in pursuit of the success of this university and our students.
It is time to work on solutions in a way that is mutually respectful and results in action.
Dr. Paul Dagg
Chair, TRU Board of Governors