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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2012

Concordia Slapped with $2M Fine over Payouts

Faculty and student leaders at Concordia University are suspicious of a financial penalty imposed by Quebec’s education ministry in a time of turmoil over pending tuition fee hikes.

Education Minister Line Beauchamp said March 8 that $2 million would be withheld from Concordia’s funding next school year for doling out excessive sums of money in buyouts to former senior administrators.

Beauchamp said she told the university many times about her concerns regarding the series of departures and the impact on its budget. She says Concordia has shown a lack of rigour and has to face the consequences.

“There is a problem with governance,” Beauchamp said, noting that over the past few years, the university’s board of governors authorized millions of dollars in severance packages to departing high-level employees, two of whom were university presidents.

In 2007, former president Claude Lajeunesse received a $1.4 million buyout two years into his five-year contract, while ex-president Judith Woodsworth was ousted in 2010 with a severance of almost $1 million.

But the provincial penalty has been criticized as an unwelcome public relations move at a time when Quebec student strike mandates, in opposition to the $1,625 tuition hike budgeted by the government, continue.

“The fine is still the wrong move,” Lucie Lequin, president of the Concordia University Faculty Association, told the Globe and Mail. “The minister took advantage of the situation at Concordia to use us as a scapegoat. But will the students be happy if they have less services?”

Concordia’s interim president, Frederick Lowy, said in a statement that the university’s board of governors had already approved an external review “to examine the processes and practices that were used in recent years with respect to senior management personnel who departed before the end of their contracts or with whom the university wished to end its contractual obligations.”