Board backs task force review, eyes next steps

Although Western’s Board of Governors unanimously backed the Report of the Board Governance Review Task Force, the “make-or-break” test for the university governing body starts with what they do next, according to one of the review’s co-authors.

“One of the things that came across so clearly, from all the groups and from all the individuals we met with during this process, was a real concern for getting things done,” said Brain Timney, Senate representative to the Board and task force vice-chair. “There were several people who asked, ‘Are you going to report back?’

“We have raised the expectation levels. This really is a make-or-break item. We have to follow through; we have to get out and be in the community and show the Board is interested in their concerns. This is the first step.”

Struck in June, the Board Governance Review Task Force was charged with exploring the Board in the wake of the presidential compensation controversy.  A handful of the review’s recommendations dealt directly with the problem areas cited by The Goudge Report as main instigators of the recent firestorm, including the Board’s committee structure, its connections with the university Senate, as well as its relationship and communication with the overall university community.

The review was released publically Nov. 19 and approved in principle at the Board’s regular meeting on Nov. 26.

The Board’s By-Laws Committee will be charged with developing an implantation plan for the review’s recommendations along timelines set down by the Board. A meeting for that group has yet to be set.

More than one Board member asked that periodic updates to the university community be an integral part of the process.

The original motion before Board members was to ‘approve’ the review; Carol Beynon, Senate representative, moved to amend that motion to read ‘approve in principle.’ That amendment was approved unanimously.

“Approval of this report says to me that we approve every aspect of it. Approval in principle says it is for information,” Beynon said. “The other way makes me a little nervous.”

Board member debate on the task force’s actual findings was non-existent. Instead, most of the discussion centred on context and next steps.

Jane Toswell, a Faculty representative to the Board, voiced her concern over the report being framed from the opening sentences around only “the issue of the President’s compensation and the move for votes of non-confidence.”

“We, as a Board, have not sufficiently acknowledged that the president’s compensation issue was really the match that lit the tinder of some very deep-seated anxiety on this campus,” said Toswell, who reiterated her desire for the report to “go a whole lot further than it did.” “I want Board members to remember that was only a symptom as far as this campus was concerned. Campus got as agitated as it did over other matters – and it continues to be agitated about. I am concerned we are framing the whole (report) in those terms.”

Michael Lerner, City of London appointee and a member of the task force, expressed shock at the number of unresolved issues that arose during the review’s consultation process.

“I was surprised, shocked even, at the number of issues that arose when the seminal issue precipitated the entire review. My shock was that nobody brought these issues forward in a formal way before,” he said. “It seemed everybody had issues or concerns that ought to have been presented to the board for careful consideration, ought to have been addressed by the Board. There were an enormous number of underlying issues that had been identified throughout this process. It still surprises me they were not brought before the Board by somebody formally, in some way, so we could have dealt with them at the time they arose, rather than during the review that has been done.”

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The Board named Hanny Hassan as the university governing body’s next Chair. His term begins Jan. 1.

Named to the Board by the Alumni Association in 2009, Hassan is President of Alef Consulting. He received a BESc from Western and MESc from Dalhousie. On the Board, Hassan has been chair of the Bylaws Committee, and a member of the Audit and Senior Operations Committees. He has been Vice-Chair of the Board since 2014.

Hassan follows Chirag Shah, who steps down from the Board when his term as chair ends Dec. 31. Shah was appointed to the Board in 2010 and served two terms as chair.

The Board also announced Thursday that Paul Jenkins will serve as the university governing body’s next Vice-Chair. His term begins Jan. 1.

Named to the Board as an Alumni member in 2010, Jenkins was appointed Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada in April 2003, for a term of seven years. He retired in April 2010. He has a BA in Economics from Western and a MSc from the London School of Economics. On the Board, he was appointed vice-chair of the Property & Finance Committee (P&F) in 2012, and has served as chair of the committee since 2013. As chair of P&F, he also served on the Audit Committee and the Senior Operations Committee.

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The Board approved a new four-year contract (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019) with the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association-Librarians and Archivists (UWOFA-LA), a union representing 49 librarians and archivists at the university. UWOFA-LA members voted 86 per cent in favour of the agreement in balloting that closed Nov. 13.