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Allan Rock Bypassing University of Ottawa Senate in VP Resources Selection

August 3, 2011

From: Joseph Hickey
To: Allan Rock
Cc: Members of Senate, Student Media, Concerned Community Members
Date: August 3, 2011
Subject: Re: Allan Rock Bypassing University of Ottawa Senate :: Selection Committee of the Vice-President, Resources

Dear Mr. Allan Rock,

The Vice-President Governance’s Office has responded (below) to my request to you for clarification regarding the election of Senate members to the VP Resources Selection Committee.

Your administration’s position is that the Executive Committee of the Senate will choose the Senate members to be on the VP Resources Selection Committee, and then present this selection to the Senate for ratification at the Senate’s September 12, 2011 meeting.  The University’s “Procedure for Appointing a Vice-President”, however, states:

1. To appoint a Vice-President, the President creates an eight-member selection committee consisting of:

(…)

c. three Senate members, appointed by the Senate, one of which shall be a student member of Senate registered in a program of study at a level other than that of the member of the Board of Governors;

Link to the University of Ottawa Procedure for Appointing a Vice-President

I am opposed to your unjustified position in this matter, which denies my statutory right as an elected representative to Senate to participate, after due deliberation of Senate, in electing or appointing three Senate members to the Selection Committee for the new Vice-President Resources of the University.  Circumventing the foreseen democratic process of the Senate in the manner that you propose is a violation of the Senate’s authority and, as such, is harmful to the Senate and to the University (see Appendix).

Furthermore, the statement that the Executive Committee will choose the Selection Committee’s members in order to prevent a delay in the appointment of the new Vice-President is disingenuous for several reasons.  Campus activity is at a virtual standstill during the summer months, and it is incorrect to say that significant work will be done or needs to be done in relation to the Senate’s nominees to the VP Resources Selection Committee during the month of August.  The Executive Committee’s choice of Committee members will need to be ratified by Senate at its September 12, 2011 meeting in any case, and therefore no time is saved by having the Executive Committee make the selection instead of allowing the full Senate to deliberate and vote in its selections.

The administration’s position that the appointment of the new VP Resources is an urgent matter also appears disingenuous.  Did the administration not know the termination date (September 30, 2011) of Mr. Victor Simon’s contract as current VP Resources during the Senate’s previous session?  Why was the Senate’s election or appointment process to the VP Resources Selection Committee not initiated during the previous session, when the full Senate could properly deliberate and elect its representatives to the committee according to University Procedure?  Would appointing an interim VP Resources until procedure can be duly followed and the Senate can elect or appoint its representatives to the Selection Committee not be an acceptable course of action?

Furthermore, I doubt that the Senate has ever explicitly delegated to the Executive Committee its duty and responsibility to appoint its own members in a transparent and democratic process with deliberation. After all, this would be the only democratic input to the selection process from the broad university community.

Otherwise, where is there a sufficient safeguard against abuse? How does this compare to the procedures used at other prestigious universities? Is this the appearance you want to give? Should not Canada’s university be more democratic than most other universities?

What is even more concerning is that the Senate has already dealt with and overturned an instance of exactly this same administrative machination leading up to its January 6, 2011 meeting, in relation to the creation of the Senate Procedural Rules Committee.  At that time, the administration attempted to have the Executive Committee of the Senate appoint members to the Procedural Rules Committee, whereas I had motioned for the Senate to elect its own representatives to that committee.  The Senate decided at the January 6 meeting that the full Senate would indeed elect its own members to the Procedural Rules Committee.  Repeating a recently overturned tactic to bypass the Senate’s right to elect its own representatives on a matter as substantial as the appointment of a new University Vice-President does not promote confidence in the University administration. Please see the video of the January 6, 2011 meeting of the Senate: link

It is disturbing to see the University President and Executive again selecting which University Procedures will be followed and which will be ignored, all the while eroding the rights and respect of the Senate.  When will the administration stop circumventing the democratic process at Senate (see Appendix)?

I will do everything in my power to ensure that my rights as a senator are respected by your administration in this matter. Please reconsider your position immediately and inform me by Thursday.

Sincerely,

Joseph Hickey
Graduate student representative to the University of Ottawa Senate
http://www.studentseyeview.wordpress.com

Cc: Members of Senate, student media, concerned community members

* Appendix *

For the Senate Executive Committee to pre-select the members of the selection committee, as Mr. Rock intends to do, thwarts the foreseen democratic process of Senate in two ways: (1) it circumvents the full deliberation and associated transparency which would allow every Senate member to hear all the submissions before making individual judgements in light of his/her constituency in the university community; and (2) it provides a barrier against the full deliberation via needing to oppose an executive recommendation and via the anticipated extra resources that are implied and that are characterized by the administration as a waste.

Imagine if Canadians were told that the next federal election will be replaced by a referendum to approve the slate of candidates recommended by a committee largely made up of members who already run the country… It is not hard to see that the democratic process of the election would have been circumvented.

There are reasons for having a democratic process of the full Senate body: during the potential election process, deliberation and debate can occur over which candidates are best suited for the positions; a broad section of the campus community has a represented voice in the deliberation and therefore a say in which candidates are chosen to best represent the aspirations of the community in shaping the character of the institution.  Bypassing the Senate democratic process negates these beneficial rights pursuant to established procedures and therefore harms the institution.

Furthermore, Mr. Rock’s plan to have a small executive choose the Senate’s representatives and then present these selections to the Senate for a Yes or No ratification will create a barrier to the right of Senators to elect and appoint their own representatives: should Senators desire to overturn the Executive Committees selections, it would likely cause a delay from needed further deliberations in addition to those about the overturned recommendation until at least the subsequent Senate meeting before the representatives are finally appointed.  Senators would therefore be reluctant to cause such a delay because the lost time from the committee’s work would be harmful to the University. Also, knowing that the Executive Committee has already spent time on the matter, Senators would be reluctant to vote against the recommendation. These are all barriers against the norm which the Senate has not delegated away and should not delegate away in serving the community.

* * *

From: Office of the Vice-President, Governance
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: August 2, 2011
Subject: Election to the Selection Committee of the Vice-President, Resources

Dear Mr. Hickey,

As stated in its terms of reference (http://web5.uottawa.ca/admingov/comite_28.html), the Executive Committee of the Senate is responsible for receiving requests made to the Senate, and will, unless they are matters that the Senate reserved its jurisdiction, deal with them itself.

The Committee is responsible for:

a)    receiving requests made to the Senate and either deal with them itself, unless they are matters that the Senate has specifically reserved to its jurisdiction, referring them immediately to the appropriate Senate committee for consideration and recommendation, or submitting them directly to the Senate;

As the Senate is not convened during the summer period, and to prevent any delay in the selection process of the next Vice-President, Resources, the nomination of Senate members to the Selection Committee will be overseen by the Executive Committee of the Senate.  The Executive Committee of the Senate will report back to the Senate at its September 12, 2011 meeting.

Regards,

Erika Hansen
Directrice adjointe du Secrétariat de l’Université | Assistant Director, University Secretariat
Cabinet de la vice-rectrice à la gouvernance | Office of the Vice-President, Governance
Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa

From: Joseph Hickey
To: President Allan Rock,
Cc:
Members of Senate
Date: July 29, 2011
Subject: Re: Election to the Selection Committee for the Vice-President, Resources

Dear President Rock,

I would like to request a clarification of your message below regarding the VP Resources Selection Committee.

Does your message mean that the executive committee would select the Senate’s selection committee members instead of the full Senate under the pretext that the Senate does not meet during the summer? Or do you mean that the Executive Committee will only report the nominations for vote at full Senate?  If the former is true, then this appears anomalous to me. I ask that we wait for a Senate meeting to decide at Senate if the Senate wants to deny itself its statutory right to elect its own representatives in a way unilaterally proposed by the administration.

Please understand that I am concerned about my statutory right to elect a representative to the Selection Committee.

Sincerely,

Joseph Hickey
Member of Senate, Graduate student (Sciences Section)

From: President Allan Rock
To: Members of Senate
Date: July 29, 2011
Subject: Election to the Selection Committee for the Vice-President, Resources

Mr. Victor Simon’s term of office as Vice-President, Resources, will end on September 30, 2011.

According to the Procedure for appointing a vice-president (http://web5.uottawa.ca/admingov/docs-appoint-vice-president.html), a selection committee must be established. The Committee is composed, among others, of three Senate members, appointed by the Senate, one of which shall be a student member.

Members of the Senate wishing to submit their candidacy must return the enclosed form to the Office of the Vice-President, Governance, Tabaret Hall, room 206, no later than August 10, 2011.

As the Senate is not convened during the summer period, the matter will be referred to the Executive Committee of the Senate who will oversee the nomination process, as per its terms of reference, and will report back to the Senate at its September 12, 2011 meeting.

Allan Rock
Recteur et vice-chancelier | President and Vice-Chancellor
Cabinet du recteur | Office of the President
Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa

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