CAUT Council delegates in November recognized progress made at University College of the North and voted not to censure the institution.
“Delegates were pleased that UCN and the Government of Manitoba responded seriously to CAUT’s concerns about the new institution,” said James Turk, executive director of CAUT. “We will continue to monitor the situation as some of the final details remain to be put in place, but we are confident the UCN administration and the provincial government recognize the necessity of finishing the important work they have begun.”
Since planning for the creation of UCN began in 2002, CAUT stressed the importance of UCN having the requisites of all successful university degree-granting institutions, including academic freedom, tenure and a senior academic body with responsibility for education policy and decision-making.
When it became evident these were not going to be assured at UCN, both the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations and CAUT actively intervened — meeting with government and UCN officials, the Manitoba Keewatinook Ininew Okimowin, the governing body for northern First Nations in Manitoba, and the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, which represents academic staff at UCN.
Turk told Council delegates that UCN has agreed to contract language protecting academic freedom, has introduced tenure, and is negotiating usual protections for a tenure system, namely good financial exigency and program redundancy language in the collective agreement with the employees union.
He also said that the Advanced Education Minister, Diane McGifford, had given the government’s written commitment that UCN’s university programs will be free from government intervention, as are programs at Manitoba’s other degree-granting institutions.
“The minister also agreed to advance the time frame for the legislated operational review of UCN so that, among other issues, the powers of its senior academic body can be reexamined,” Turk said. “CAUT will be invited to participate in that review, and McGifford emphasized that she will seek remedy to the issues emerging from the review, including any recommendations concerning the powers of the senior academic body.”