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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2009

CAUT Supports Quebec Federation of Professors’ Opposition to Proposed Bill on University Governance

Caut Council has unanimously endorsed a motion supporting the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) in its fight to have the Quebec government’s proposed legislation on university governance withdrawn.

“There is a tremendous amount of mobilization in Quebec against the reintroduction of this ill-founded legislative proposal,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “CAUT fully supports the effort to protect established practices of autonomy and collegiality in university governance.”

If passed, Bill 38 would require that 60 per cent of members on a university’s board of governors be “external” to the university community, effectively placing power and control in the hands of people with no ties to the university. Nor can the board’s chair be a member of the university community. Only 25 per cent of the board’s member­ship needs to be drawn from within the university.

FQPPU is circulating a petition in opposition to the bill, stating that the proposed legislation “furthers an accelerating trend towards privatization of a public enterprise by forcing the adoption of for-profit corporate practices.”

The bill also stipulates three mandatory board committees — governance and ethics, audit, and human resources — composed of “independent directors and not more than one member from the university community.”

The motion passed by Council recognizes that the bill “severely undermines academic communities’ involvement within academic bodies responsible for academic, scientific, professional or administrative decision making.” It effectively weakens the long-standing bicameral model of collegial governance — one which includes both a board of governors and a senate working together in the best interests of the university community.

Instead, “universities will be governed by boards largely composed of external members,” Turk
notes. “The three committees will have virtually no university community representation, and will make so many important decisions by people with almost no institutional affinity.”