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“The Castle Crumbling from Within” — La Rotonde Editorial on the Allan Rock Administration

January 30, 2012

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Today’s editorial in La Rotonde — available HERE, alternative link HERE —  focuses on the recent executive exodus from the Allan Rock administration (VP Resources, VP Academic, Chief-of-Staff, Chief of Communications, etc.) and the administration’s transparency issues, including Mr. Rock’s spur of the moment cancellation of a scheduled interview with the campus student papers.

English translation below (links added):

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La Rotonde (Editorial)
January 30, 2012

Questions of Priority

University of Ottawa President, Allan Rock, cancelled a meeting with the student media last week that had been scheduled since last October.  The meeting was meant to be a chance for The Fulcrum and La Rotonde to speak with the President about issues of concern to students.

The cancellation comes at a time when there appear to be serious internal tensions in the upper administration.  The meeting would have been a perfect opportunity for the President to shed some light on the many rumours that have been circulating around campus since last semester.  At the very least he could have shown up.

And there’s good reason to raise a few questions when the Vice-President of Academics – whose job is to ensure proper functioning of the 10 faculties, in collaboration with the Deans, as well as to replace the President when he is absent – quietly steps down from his position.  It turns out that, when contacted by one of our journalists, M. Houle’s administrative assistant informed us that “M. Houle left his post two and a half weeks ago, but you can still reach him at his personal e-mail.”  No notice was sent to the student community about the Vice-President’s resignation, and the University web site states that he is still VP.

Even the student associations, which have taken to working closely with the upper administration these days, only heard about Mr. Houle’s departure after it appeared in an article in the Le Droit newspaper.

Instead of explaining himself to the university community by means of his blog, Mr. Rock chose to respond to Le Droit in an open letter, in which he raised the University’s position regarding its four big priorities for the coming years.  That’s certainly a part of his job, but nothing was mentioned about the internal state of the administration.  It leaves us with the impression that, finding himself under attack, the President had to hold up a decoy for the media’s attention.   In fact the famous “Rock-Talk” blog, the purpose of which is to keep in contact with the University community, hasn’t been updated since January 6!  The article before that, which described Mr. Rock’s business trip to Asia, dates back to October 17, 2011.  Of course a university President must be active in the international domain, but a university’s reputation is something that is built up from within.  The fact is that the President of the U of O spends the bulk of his time between Toronto and Kyoto, while taking care to avoid meetings of the Senate.

What’s the solution?  It’s quite strange that Andrée Dumulon, the ex-director of the Communications Office, has not yet been replaced.  The difficulty that the University seems to be having in getting its message out to all of its members has to be put in the hands of someone who’s up to the task of keeping a vast community like the U of O up to date on important developments.

There’s no point putting so much effort into building up a castle if it’s crumbling from within.  Members of Senate as well as the Board of Governors need to replace the Director of Communications, because we are starting to see real repercussions on the U of O’s image.

Failing that, La Rotonde invites you, Mr. Rock, to write an open letter to La Rotonde that would give you the opportunity – after skipping out on us last week – to address the student community directly.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. steve permalink
    January 30, 2012 7:54 pm

    Do students and/or faculty really believe that they are a priority? U of Ottawa is a corporation according to Rock; as such, then, the place is not a learning institution, but one where research money is the priority over everything and everyone else. It’s not a stretch to believe that the priorities at Corporate U are money and Rock’s image. I’ve sat through enough Faculty of Education grad ceremonies to hear Rock go on about U of O’s ranking as a research institution – but not once about how U Ottawa ranks as a learning institution nationally or internationally (Macleans magazine routinely puts U of O student experience at rock bottom – that should be illustrative). That the institution is imploding is not a surprise because people are not seemingly viewed as a strength or even as important….

  2. Jake permalink
    January 30, 2012 8:24 pm

    Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil. As a federal politician, he had a hand in such messes as the Airbus-Mulroney scandal, the tainted blood scandal and the gun registry cost overrun. He is making a mess of UO as well, and will soon leave it to others to clean it up: this is his modus operandi. He is not only losing the confidence of senior administrators; faculty and students also have little faith in him. He is all style, no substance. Not to worry though…we do not factor into his long term career plans This stint is just a stepping stone on the road to other pastures.

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