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Staff and faculty of Champlain Regional College are in disbelief that Central Administration failed to present a new plan for restructuring the Director of Studies position to increase the academic autonomy of the three campuses at Wednesday’s Board of Governors meeting, disregarding a board resolution adopted unanimously in June. The management team claimed that no written records or audio recordings had been kept of the June decision.

“The Director of Studies is supposed to be a leader in the college and is responsible for its core academic mission. At Champlain, this position has been vacant since November 2014. A board that cannot define or fill the position—that fails to properly record decisions this important—is dysfunctional and unable to govern,” said Dominique Routhier, retired Dean of Students and Academic Services at St Lawrence.

Leadership Problems

During discussion of how to proceed given the lack of records, senior management offered a spontaneous motion from the floor requesting that the minister reorganize the college according to the Lanaudière model. A member of the management team stated that if such a motion passed “it is not an automatic that the people that you see in front of you here tonight and the academic deans that exist already would in fact have jobs.” Senior managers then proceeded to speak and vote against their own resolution. The chair suspended further discussion of the Director of Studies position until the next meeting.

“The board is unable to rise to the task of dealing with the problems in its regional structure,” said Denis Carrier, Physics teacher at St Lawrence. “The off-the-cuff motion to restructure the college shows a complete disregard for the seriousness of the difficulties the college faces.”

Board Dysfunction

Administration’s failure to present the required plan is part of a larger picture of ongoing problems that have crippled the college’s governance this past year. These include the board’s:

  • failure to elect a chair and vice-chair of the board
  • failure to elect an executive committee
  • failure to constitute a committee to perform job evaluations of the Director General
  • repeated postponements of required elections
  • failure to provide transparent and complete budgetary documentation
  • failure to abide by the bylaws that govern board conduct and affairs
  • erratic management of board membership with some members remaining in office years after expiration of their term while others are removed immediately
  • inability to retain external members (a majority of external seats, 6 out of 11, currently vacant)

Campus autonomy: the best available solution

In the 1970s, the government created four regional Cegeps, but all of them had problems with identity, governance, accountability, representation and finances. None managed to serve their communities adequately. By the 1980s, three of the four had been replaced by nine independent cegeps.

Today, only Champlain Regional College remains, and it is hobbled by its complicated and wasteful multi-regional structure.

“Replacing the multi-regional structure is clearly the best way forward, but the board is too ineffective to take the necessary steps, and the central administration will fight to save their jobs,” said Bruce Toombs, Humanities teacher at Saint-Lambert. “So the campuses are left propping up a redundant central administrative structure with resources that could be better spent serving the needs of students at each local community.”

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Christine Kerr
Porte-parole de la campagne pour l’autonomie du campus Saint-Lambert
Cell. : 514 910-9364

Meagan Daley
Porte-parole de la campagne pour l’autonomie du campus St.Lawrence
Cell. : 418 456-1368