(Sudbury – February 14, 2019)
The Laurentian University Faculty Association is calling for more transparency in the practices of the University’s Board of Governors after the disclosure of special deals for senior university administrators.
“It is another sign of how the corporate model is becoming increasingly prevalent in our universities,” said LUFA President Fabrice Colin. “These sweetheart deals are shocking given the university’s deficit and the administration’s demands for cutting services and staff.”
The contracts include:
- Former vice-president, research, Rui Wang, who was handed an $800,000 start-up allowance when hired in 2014 with the promise of a 3,650 square foot lab space to be available to him by fall 2015; Wang also received a discretionary annual budget 50 percent higher than the sponsored research income per full-time university faculty member
- Former university president Dominic Giroux was promised a lifetime right of return as a full professor (the top rank) starting with a 1 year paid administrative leave, even though he was leaving the university for another position as the full-time CEO of the Sudbury regional hospital
- Interim president Pierre Zundel was promised reappointment for four years to his former post of vice-president, academic and provost; he could also opt to become a “University Research Chair in Teaching and Learning” at the Centre for Academic Excellence or another unit, with a salary in the 90th percentile of full professors
- Interim vice-president academic and provost, Serge Demers, was promised the right to be appointed to another senior administrator post if he were terminated without cause; he was also given a discretionary annual research budget of $16,900, any unspent balance of which was to be carried over to subsequent years while at the university
The revelation regarding the former university president came during an arbitration in December 2018-January 2019, while the others were learned earlier. “Ironically,” said Colin, “this has come to light when the faculty association has been advocating for equity in starting salaries and start-up grants over the past several years.”
The saga began in April 2017 when the university announced that Giroux was leaving Laurentian after 8 years at the helm as president to become CEO of Health Sciences North, the Sudbury regional hospital. He assumed the post in October 2017.
Yet rumours persisted that Giroux had been granted a special leave despite having resigned as President. Despite repeated requests made by the faculty union during the summer and fall of 2017, the administration did not respond to its questions regarding the status of Giroux’s relationship with the university.
Concerned that a special deal was struck, LUFA filed a grievance in December 2017 requesting information on Giroux’s employment status. Protracted legal maneuvers ensued in the months that followed, including a freedom of information request for the other administrators’ contracts. A full account is given on the LUFA website.
Not until December 2018, when the arbitration began, did the employer finally disclose the details of the former president’s special leave. However, no documents were provided on the terms and conditions of Giroux’s possible return.
“We are dismayed with the lack of transparency that has resulted in these extremely lengthy and costly procedures to access what should be public information,” said Colin.
He added: “We are urging the Board of Governors to change its practices. Arbitrator Kevin Burkett had previously ruled that Laurentian needed to consult with faculty members and departments on the appointment of senior administrators. This only makes sense since we are a publicly funded institution. Yet Burkett’s decision, which has since beenenshrined in the collective agreement, continues to be ignored.”
Founded in 1979, LUFA represents over 400 full-time faculty as well as over 300 part-time faculty at Laurentian University, the University of Sudbury, Huntington University and Thorneloe University. For more information, please visit https://lufappul.ca/