Presidential review process under fire

By Tyson Vandament

University of Calgary president Dr. Harvey Weingarten’s five-year contract is up for review, but faculty and students say they are being left out of the process.

Traditionally, presidential terms are extended following the formation of a presidential review committee, which is composed of all stakeholders. However, for Weingarten’s extension a committee has not been formed or consulted. Instead the Board of Governors–the U of C’s highest governing body–has bypassed this step, and has been working with the senior compensation committee, which usually determines compensation for senior officials and does not examine or review term extensions.

U of C Faculty Association president Anton Colijn worries removal of stakeholder input in the presidential review process is detrimental to transparency.

“This is a step away from collegial governance where all stakeholders have a say in how the university is run,” said Colijn.

Colijn said this is a problem because the members of the SCC are made up of BOG members, meaning the BOG is consulting primarily with itself, leaving many important stakeholders out of the review process.

Students’ Union president Emily Wyatt is worried this omission will increase the perceived disconnect between students and the administration.

“Many students feel unsupported in their education in regards to upper management and government, ” she said.

Waytt also noted that she is trying to contact the board to ensure students are represented in the review process.

The BOG solicited input from TUCFA in the process in May, but Coljin argued that without faculty positions on the review committee he could not adequately consult TUCFA membership.

“Last May we were invited by Brian McNeil, chair of the BOG, to give input in this process,” said Colijn. “We wrote back to say in effect that the SCC is concerned only with compensation, not performance. We declined to respond on the grounds that we had no time or opportunity to consult our membership.”

Both Wyatt and Colijn emphasized that their concerns are for the process, and they do not reflect opposition to the administration, the BOG or Weingarten himself.

“My main point is to encourage transparency and communication,” said Wyatt. “The administration talks a lot about innovation and that to me means constantly improving and changing. You cannot improve if you do not have a proper review process.”

BOG chair Brian McNeil would not comment on the review process and refused to release any details until the review is complete. He would not give a deadline for the review, but said in a statement that the process was fair.

“In reviewing the contract, a thorough and comprehensive process was undertaken, engaging a broad range of people both externally and internally,” he said in the statement. “The board solicited input from all staff, faculty and students, labour unions and The University of Calgary Faculty Association. The board’s decision will be based on this input, as well as an assessment of the president’s performance in relation to the mandate and goals of the university.”

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