As was noted in a recent Information Bulletin, the provincial government is moving ahead with a legislative review of the Memorial University Act. Despite requests from MUNFA to hold broader consultations on proposed revisions, it appears the government will largely be relying on the recommendations of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team and the Public Post-Secondary Education Review Committee, along with proposed recommendations from Memorial University’s Board of Regents.
We were unable to secure a commitment from government to hold broader consultations, but Minister of Education Tom Osborne agreed to consider a submission from MUNFA. The MUNFA Executive Committee submitted a set of recommendations for consideration by government on October 15, 2021. Although the timeline provided did not allow the MUNFA Executive to organize broad consultation with our membership, the submission was developed with email feedback received from Academic Staff Members (ASMs) and with the assistance of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. We encourage ASMs with feedback on MUNFA’s final submission to contact our office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Subsequent to making that submission, MUNFA received a copy of an Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (ATIPP) request disclosure regarding Memorial University’s submission on revisions to the Memorial University Act. The contents of the submission are entirely redacted pursuant to Section 27(1)(a) of the ATIPP Act. However, the corresponding letter to Minister Osborne indicates that the Board of Regents approved the recommendations contained in the submission on August 30, 2021. That means that the administration left consultation with the MUNFA Executive Committee (on September 2, 2021) and with Senate (on September 14, 2021) until after Memorial University’s recommendations had already been approved.
As was noted in our correspondence with Memorial University’s President, Dr. Vianne Timmons, and Minister Osborne, the university community holds openness, collegiality, and shared decision making to be core values of the academy. It is of grave concern that it appears these values were not respected by senior administration in the preparation of Memorial University’s submission to revise the Act, a piece of legislation that governs the entire institution, including both Senate and the Board of Regents.
As the above issue is directly related to governance concerns within the University, we remind members that MUNFA recently struck a Governance Working Group to address the erosion of collegial governance and shared-decision making at Memorial University. ASMs interested in participating should contact MUNFA’s Organizing, Membership Engagement, and Communications Coordinator, Travis Perry, at email@example.com.