Senators received assurances that progress into implementing recommendations as to how the university governing body operates have not been forgotten – and will, in fact, be revealed soon.
The response was sparked by Senator Alison Hearn who submitted a notice of motion that she intends to ask Senate to speed up implementing revisions to Senate representation. In the two years since Senate accepted a report from the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Renewal, its recommendations have been “left to languish,” Hearn told Senate at its regular meeting April 13.
For example, Hearn spotlighted the fact that deans – Health Sciences Dean Jayne Garland and Arts & Humanities Dean Michael Milde – filled two of the three faculty spots among Senate selections on the Presidential Search Committee. Economics Chair Audra Bowlus filled the third position. Hearn also said the body has too little faculty representation and no contract employees with Senate seats.
“I am not an extremist, but rather a political realist,” Hearn told Senate. “I simply want an institution who takes the concerns of its community members seriously and treats them with respect – whether they are TAs and post-docs asking for a fair deal, or food services workers looking for a small modicum of job security, students looking for explanations about discontinued services or rising tuition fees, or faculty members looking to protect their scholarly values by having a reasonable share of voice on a hiring committee.
“Two years on from the Ad Hoc Committee’s report, I am very disappointed to say that I do not see this happening at Western. I do not see any evidence of the change the Ad Hoc Committee worked so hard to outline and inspire. I cannot help but feel that, like the situation about the Dean’s role I just described, the Ad Hoc committee recommendations are adopted when they suit the interests of senior administration, and are left to languish when they pose even the smallest challenge to those interests.”
In his role as Senate Chair, Milde noted that “there has been progress and we will report on it.” He noted a report for discussion was initially scheduled for the April 13 agenda but was moved to the May meeting because of April’s budget presentation.
“You’re right: In the absence of information, there is the illusion that nothing is happening,” Milde said. “Steps have been taken to implement many of the recommendations,” and details will be fleshed out in May.
In June 2016, the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Renewal issued a report detailing its findings into Senate operations in the wake of the presidential leave controversy, and its ensuing fallout, from the year before. The report outlined 10 recommendations, divided into four larger categories: Transparency, accountability and communications; representation on Senate; committee structures and processes; and Senate-Board of Governors relations.
Much of what was revealed during the task force’s consultation process spoke to transparency, accountability, misunderstandings about governance structures, including the basic roles and responsibilities of Senators and the differences between governance and administration.