Volume 13, Number 14  March 24, 2006

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Motions spark broad debate

There was a mixed response among University Council members to the prospect of voting on the disestablishment of the Extension Division.

The first Council member to respond to the Planning Committee’s notice of motions and its discussion paper requested a second document be prepared, arguing “the other side” of disestablishing Extension. Chair Beth Bilson said the Planning Committee endorses the changes laid out in the discussion paper so such a document would have to be prepared by some other body.

Don Harris, chair of the Council Committee on Outreach and Public Services, said when Council approved the Outreach and Engagement foundational document Jan. 21, it was clear it “would lead to the creation of two institutions and the disbanding of the Extension Division.” He expressed disappointment, however, in the lack of attention paid to the President’s Round Table in the discussion paper.

Provost Michael Atkinson said there “is no question about our commitment to establishing both” the Round Table and the Office of University-Community Relations. He pledged to rework the paper “so it contains all the elements you feel need to be there.”

Dr. Bill Albritton, dean of medicine, also pointed out the paper fails to mention continuing professional education, which Bilson said she would look into including in a new draft.

A number of Council members then expressed concern about the fate of tenured faculty currently in Extension. Lois Jaeck, a professor in Languages and Linguistics, asked for some indication of where Extension faculty members will be placed. “We are human beings,” she said. “I want to know what is happening to my colleagues” to ensure none are “unwillingly put out on the street.”

Bilson reminded Council it is “a difficult line to draw between the academic responsibilities of Council…and the responsibilities of other players” like Human Resources and the faculty association. It is not appropriate, she said, for Council “to get involved in that discussion.” President Peter MacKinnon then took the floor to assure the group all procedures laid out in collective agreements will be followed, and everyone will be treated with respect.

Ed Tymchatyn from Mathematics and Statistics then addressed Council, suggesting no structural changes be made because he felt administration has not been forthcoming with financial information relating to the structural deficit. Financial reporting at the University, he said, “is in a shambles.”

Atkinson replied that Council has been kept fully informed about the multi-year budget and efforts to deal with the structural deficit. He described Tymchatyn’s statements as “unconscionable innuendo”, and asked him to “please tell me what it is you want to know about this.”

Richard Florizone, vice-president of finance, also responded, detailing the rigorous accounting practices followed by the University and telling Tymchatyn that to “insinuate some wrong-doing is very irresponsible.” Bilson said the Planning Committee has never felt it was denied any financial information, a point supported by committee member and Commerce Professor John Rigby. He told Council that in fact, the Provost sometimes talks too much in meetings, and admonished Tymchatyn for what he termed “an attack on the integrity of central administrators.”

- MacPherson


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