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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2017

Academic advisor

Academic AdvisorF.N. of Saskatoon writes
How does one become a member of the university board of governors?

David Robinson answers
Being wealthy helps. Bankers, lawyers, corporate executives and other players in the business world make up almost 50 per cent of the boards of governors at Canada’s 15 top research universities. Corporate dominance characterizes the boards at many other institutions as well. That said, there are elected seats on most boards reserved for academic staff. Depending on your institution’s rules, this may involve a direct election by all academic staff, an election through the academic staff association, or an election through the senate/general faculties council. Your university or college should provide infor­ma­tion setting out the eligibility, nomination, campaign, and voting pro­cess for the board. Boards of governors have significant control over the finances and strategic direction of institutions; so strong academic voices are needed on them. At a time when universities and colleges are facing funding cutbacks and pressure to “perform,” academics need to defend teaching and research for its own sake, not just as an instrument to advance economic goals. Further, with governance increasingly lacking transparency, acade­mic staff representatives can be a critical conduit of information to the broader academic community. If you are interested in pursuing this, talk to your academic staff association.