Senators: Time to renew collegial self-governance

In his memorandum to the campus community (President releases consultation report, July 22), President Amit Chakma provides an overview of the key themes that have emerged during his 100-day ‘listening tour’ of the campus. We count ourselves among those who share what President Chakma calls “a strong desire … to strengthen Western,” and we offer these comments in that spirit. We are disappointed in the amount of space used in the report to list our ‘successes’ rather than to address the serious issues that precipitated the current crisis. We find the section on Governance to be particularly troubling.

President Chakma begins the Governance summary by suggesting that the mandates of the Board of Governors and university Senate are “not well understood by some members of our community.” Nowhere does he acknowledge the importance of collegial self-governance or its profound erosion under his leadership. Nor does he recognize the widespread concern on this campus about his administration’s top-down management style.

We welcome the establishment of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Western Renewal, and we hope it (and the Board of Governor’s internal governance review) will result in substantive changes to governance, transparency and accountability, not a return to business as usual. As Senators, we recognize we also have an important role to play. Over the coming year, we will work hard to serve the university’s core mission of teaching and research. We will represent the interests of our faculty, staff and student constituents and give them a voice. We are committed to reforming the culture of a Senate that President Chakma’s administration has increasingly reduced to a rubber-stamp function, in which open dialogue and collegial governance have been suppressed.


Kim Clark, Social Science Senator

Nick Dyer-Witheford, Information and Media Studies Senator

Carole Farber, Information and Media Studies Senator

Amanda Grzyb, Information and Media Studies/Ivey SGPS Senator

Bev Leipert, Health Sciences Senator

Jean-Francois Millaire, Social Science Senator

Volker Nolte, Health Sciences Senator

Kelly Olson, Arts & Humanities Senator

Wendy Pearson, Arts & Humanities Senator

Zoë Sinel, Law Senator

Christine Sprengler, Arts & Humanities Senator

Jane Toswell, Arts & Humanities Senator