Open Search 2020

Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na Pres­i­dent Vianne Tim­mons recent­ly announced that she is leav­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty effec­tive March 31, 2020. The con­fig­u­ra­tion of the search com­mit­tee, process, and how mem­bers of the Uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty will be involved in the search process is not yet known. 

The selec­tion of a new pres­i­dent is crit­i­cal for the uni­ver­si­ty. They will have great influ­ence on the direc­tion and future of the Uni­ver­si­ty, and will make impor­tant deci­sions that will affect the dai­ly work­ing lives of URFA mem­bers and the learn­ing envi­ron­ment of our stu­dents. It is impor­tant that URFA and the uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty have a say in who will serve as the next leader of the Uni­ver­si­ty, and should have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mean­ing­ful­ly con­tribute to the search process. 

Why an open search?

URFA believes that an open, pub­lic search for the next pres­i­dent would be of great ben­e­fit to the Uni­ver­si­ty community. 

The Uni­ver­si­ty Pres­i­dent plays a key role in shap­ing the direc­tion of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na, and we should know what their vision for the future of the insti­tu­tion is. The next Pres­i­dent could lead the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na for up to a decade, per­haps even longer. They will make deci­sions that will affect the day-to-day work­ing lives of URFA mem­bers. It is impor­tant that the Uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty has a say in who is going to lead them in a time when the Uni­ver­si­ty is fac­ing many dif­fer­ent chal­lenges around stu­dent pop­u­la­tion growth, lim­it­ed resources, increased work­er pre­car­i­ty, and under­fund­ing from the provin­cial and fed­er­al governments. 

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na is a pub­lic insti­tu­tion, and we should all have a say in who leads it. We need to make the search for the next pres­i­dent pub­lic. The next Pres­i­dent should val­ue the University’s role as a pub­lic insti­tu­tion, and be a cham­pi­on of pub­lic high­er edu­ca­tion and research. 

Closed search­es hurt the acad­e­my, fos­ters increas­ing cor­po­ra­ti­za­tion and admin­is­tra­tive cul­ture of the uni­ver­si­ty, and erodes col­le­gial gov­er­nance. A secret search, con­duct­ed behind closed doors with min­i­mal con­sul­ta­tion from the uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty, goes against the val­ues of col­le­gial gov­er­nance and deci­sion-mak­ing that are core val­ues of aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions. It also can erode trust between URFA mem­bers and the admin­is­tra­tion, and fos­ters an increas­ing cor­po­rate cul­ture,” where search­es are con­duct­ed in secret and infor­ma­tion is close­ly con­trolled or kept entire­ly private. 

URFA mem­bers deserve to have con­fi­dence in the search process. Mem­bers deserve to have con­fi­dence that the process and cri­te­ria for the search will be open and trans­par­ent, and that search for the next pres­i­dent will be thor­ough and the net cast as wide as pos­si­ble to ensure that the ide­al can­di­date is found. 

An oppor­tu­ni­ty to work togeth­er. This is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the entire Uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty to come togeth­er and work col­le­gial­ly to help select the next President. 

What might an open search look like?

URFA believes an open search should include the following:

  • The search com­mit­tee must have equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion from non-admin­is­tra­tive mem­bers of the cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty and from diver­si­ty group mem­bers includ­ing the Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty, LGBTQ2S+, etc. These com­mit­tee mem­bers should have the same rights as admin­is­tra­tive search com­mit­tee members.
  • Search com­mit­tee process­es and poli­cies must be pub­licly posted.
  • The cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty must have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute to the can­di­date posi­tion pro­file and selec­tion criteria. 
  • The cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sug­gest poten­tial candidates. 
  • The can­di­date short list is made pub­lic, with the oppor­tu­ni­ty for pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tions from the short­list­ed can­di­dates and input from the uni­ver­si­ty community.
  • As the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na is com­mit­ted to diver­si­ty and inclu­sion and believes that our work­force should reflect the diver­si­ty of our com­mu­ni­ty, we require that Equi­ty be one of the pri­ma­ry cri­te­ria by which the search com­mit­tee assess­es and rec­om­mends candidates.

Take action

Send this let­ter to the Chair of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na Board of Gov­er­nors and let them know that you want the search for the next pres­i­dent to be open. 

Did you know…

  • The U of R is already prone to secre­cy and a lack of trans­paren­cy. The Cana­di­an Asso­ci­a­tion of Uni­ver­si­ty Teach­ers (CAUT) has iden­ti­fied U of R as hav­ing a poor gov­er­nance struc­ture that lacks transparency.
  • Closed search­es are becom­ing a trend in aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions- under­min­ing col­le­gial gov­er­nance and deci­sion-mak­ing. Closed search­es have hap­pened recent­ly at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­i­to­ba, Uni­ver­si­ty of Mon­tréal, and Memo­r­i­al Uni­ver­si­ty of New­found­land and Labrador. Closed search­es goes against col­le­gial gov­er­nance, erodes trust between fac­ul­ty and staff and the admin­is­tra­tion, and encour­ages a cor­po­rate culture.”
  • There is a lack of evi­dence around closed search­es being more suc­cess­ful. This is large­ly based off assump­tions by admin­is­tra­tors that a closed search will some­how yield a larg­er pool of can­di­dates, argu­ing that can­di­dates won’t apply if they know they will have to face pub­lic scruti­ny as part of the inter­view process. It is rea­son­able to expect that con­fi­den­tial­i­ty is main­tained ear­ly in the appli­ca­tion stage, but once a can­di­date is short-list­ed, there is a good chance that they will become pres­i­dent, they should expect to be open to some degree of pub­lic scrutiny.
  • There is a grow­ing trend of aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions using pri­vate search firms to help select their pres­i­dent and oth­er mem­bers of the admin­is­tra­tion. In fact, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na is cur­rent­ly using Boy­den, a pri­vate firm, to assist in con­duct­ing the search for the next VP (Research). These firms cost thou­sands of dol­lars and have a high degree of con­trol over the hir­ing process- from the cre­ation of the posi­tion post­ing, draft­ing of inter­view ques­tions and com­pil­ing of short lists. This fos­ters the grow­ing cor­po­ra­ti­za­tion of the uni­ver­si­ty and increased nor­mal­iza­tion of tools and tech­niques used by cor­po­ra­tions in the pri­vate sector. 
  • Open­ness in the search process is impor­tant As The Memo­r­i­al Uni­ver­si­ty of New­found­land Fac­ul­ty Asso­ci­a­tion (MUN­FA) notes Who­ev­er holds this job will strong­ly direct insti­tu­tion­al strat­e­gy and pol­i­cy, includ­ing the allo­ca­tion of resources…We deserve the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear from pres­i­den­tial aspi­rants about their vision for our future, how they will take us there, and how they are qual­i­fied to do so.”


Feb­ru­ary 21, 2020- URFA has sent a let­ter to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na Board of Gov­er­nors request­ing an open search for the next pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na. Read it here.


Open or Closed Search? - Caut Bul­letin, Feb­ru­ary 2020