University of Regina President Vianne Timmons recently announced that she is leaving the University effective March 31, 2020. The search process for a new president has been initiated by University Administration.
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.
Response to URFA Letter
In response to URFA’s letter asking the University of Regina Board of Governors to conduct an Open Presidential search, Executive Director of University Governance and University Secretary Glenys Sylvestre responded in an email on behalf of the Board of Governors thanking URFA for the letter and input. You can read the full response here. URFA also sent a second letter on behalf of the Equity Committee requesting that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion be at the forefront of the search. Glenys Selvestre also responded to that letter, stating that the University was committed to diversity and inclusion in the search for the next President. Read Glenys Sylvestre’s response to that letter here.
University of Regina President Search Advisory Committee
The University of Regina President Search Advisory Committee (SAC) is chaired by the Chair of the University of Regina Board of Governors. There are three URFA member positions to be included on SAC, two U of R Academic members, and one APT member.
The University of Regina has asked for URFA to submit names of interested candidates from U of R Acaedmic and U of R APT to sit on SAC. This committee will be responsible for reviewing applications and ultimately making a recommendation to the U of R Board of Governors, who will have final authority on who is hired.
More Openness and Transparency is needed from SAC
URFA encourages members to put their names forward for positions on this committee. An email call for interested SAC candidates was sent to U of R Academic and APT Member inboxes, expressions of interest are due by Monday, April 27, 2020.
However, we believe that more openness and transparency is needed from this committee.
For instance, according to SAC’s terms of reference, all members of the committee are bound to confidentiality. This means that the URFA members on the committee will not be able to give updates or discuss SAC’s process with the URFA membership. It is a closed-door committee that is run by the Chair of the Board of Governors. All documents and meeting deliberations will also be kept confidential, and the University Community will only be asked for input when developing the position profile that will ultimately be used by Boyden, a private consulting firm hired to headhunt candidates.
More needs to be done to make the search more open and transparent to the University Community
Having URFA members on SAC,providing vague commitments of diversity and inclusion, and collecting “input” from the University Community is not enough. More proactive measures need to be done to ensure that the search is open and transparent to the University Community and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to give their input into the search for the next president. URFA advocates that SAC:
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.
URFA believes an open search should include the following:
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.
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.
March 28, 2020- The University of Regina Board of Governors has responded to URFA’s letter. Read the response here.
May 26, 2020- The University of Regina has announced the members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. Find out who is on the committee, including URFA U of R Academic and U of R APT representatives, here.
Open or Closed Search? - Caut Bulletin, February 2020