Eduvation Blog

Grilled Cheese & Pink Slips

Good morning, and happy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! (No really, look it up!)

Since Friday’s edition, many higher ed campuses across Canada and the Commonwealth have lowered flags to half-staff in memory of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

But that was hardly the ONLY bad news this weekend. As I summarized Friday, the pandemic is surging, and sure enough Canada hit a new record for cases, Ontario is scrambling to protect its hospitals, Brazil is living a nightmare, and the P.1 variant is looking worse than ever. (But I’ll save the pandemic bad news for tomorrow!)

Because we also have some incredible tuition hikes (only 45%), sexual assault settlements (just $1B), and erroneous acceptance letters (what’s 500,000 mistakes?). And major restructuring is getting more aggressive: Sheridan has dissolved its senate, and Laurentian is sending out pink slips en masse today.

So no matter how bad your Monday might be, chances are somebody else out there has it worse…



Layoffs at Laurentian

Anxiety is running high in Sudbury, as Laurentian prepares to send out mass termination notices today, and a whole range of voices object to the handling of the university’s insolvency…


Reassuring Students

On Friday, Laurentian president Robert Haché wrote to reassure students enrolled in the federated universities that they are “Laurentian students,” and will be provided “with an academic path forward to completion of their degree, notwithstanding this change in the contractual federation relationship.”  LU


Terminations Today

Laurentian’s employee unions, LUFA and LUSU, say they were notified last week that termination notices to faculty and staff will be sent out by LU administration today. (Even tenured faculty may be terminated under these extraordinary circumstances.) “There will be individuals affected within all employee groups. Some of these terminations may also result in job changes, which may affect other employees.” Faculty must also vote tomorrow on a new collective agreement – which has been pending since Jul 1 2020 when the last agreement ended.


Of course, it doesn’t reduce the anger and anguish of front-line staff and faculty, to realize that hundreds of others are quite comfortable…


399 LU employees earned more than $100,000 in 2020, and the timing of releasing the annual “Sunshine List” could not have been worse. President Robert Haché was paid $281,000 last year, while 3 VPs earned $214,000 to $218,000. In all the payroll for these 399 employees was $60M.



Thorneloe U is fighting Laurentian in court over its unilateral termination of the federation agreement, and one faculty senator is warning that LU’s use of CCAA for restructuring “opens up the floodgates for other universities and colleges to be treated similarly.” It could provide universities of any size a new method “to abruptly reduce their academic offerings without regard for collectively negotiated agreements,” says gender and sexuality studies prof Jen Johnson. Her perspective has reached international audiences through Times Higher Ed.


“We’ve opened up the floodgates for other universities and colleges to be treated similarly, as though we were a private-sector corporation.”Jen Johnson, gender and sexuality studies prof, Thorneloe U


“We will oppose this attempt by Laurentian to shut down Thorneloe as a scapegoat for Laurentian’s self-inflicted financial problems.” John Gibaut, president, Thorneloe U



uSudbury announced Friday that it was cancelling all Spring term courses, after LU announced it was terminating the federation agreement. Réal Fillion, a philosophy prof at uSudbury, told the Globe & Mail that “our union suggests [uSudbury] will wind down.”


uSudbury’s Indigenous Studies department is one of 3 founding departments in North America, with long-standing relationships with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Holders. 1,500 Indigenous educators from across Canada have signed an open letter to Laurentian’s administration and the CCAA courts to protect the program. “It has made significant and seminal contributions to the resurgence of Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and decolonization at the local and national levels through its research and expansive curriculum,” and has contributed to the Indigenization of Laurentian and its federation. “The termination of the Indigenous Studies program in Sudbury at Laurentian would represent a significant turning away from Laurentian University’s Tri Cultural Mandate and its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on Indigenous Education. It would have an immense impact on Indigenous communities and Canada and would represent the first Indigenous Studies program to be shuttered since the discipline began in 1969.”  Sudbury Star


The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, founded 16 years ago, is an award-winning distributed school jointly hosted by Laurentian in Sudbury and Lakehead in Thunder Bay. Former mayors of both cities are “gravely concerned” about the sustainability of NOSM in light of Laurentian’s insolvency, and are asking the province to consider giving NOSM autonomy in fundraising, degree-granting authority, and independent university status.



Senate-Less Sheridan

Last month, Sheridan College quietly restructured its unique academic governance to realign with other colleges across the country…


University Aspirations

Unlike Canadian universities, with their bicameral (or tricameral) governance models, Ontario colleges have had unicameral governance by a board of governors – with one exception. From 2012-2016, former Sheridan College president Jeff Zabudsky was so determined to push for university status, that its academic council was transformed into a formal, 72-member Senate sometime between 2012 (when it renamed itself) and 2015 (when the board amended its bylaws). Ontario’s college faculty union, OPSEU, has been pushing for other colleges to follow suit and adopt a bicameral governance model, without success. But the Liberal government never took action on the matter of Sheridan’s university status, and by the time Doug Ford’s Conservatives came into power in 2018, the matter seemed dead on the vine.


Governance Review

Last October, Sheridan’s board commissioned an independent governance review by Maureen Armstrong, former York U Secretary and General Counsel. The report came out in February, and traces the history and structure of Sheridan’s senate, and the relevant provincial legislation for college governance. Armstrong observes that “Ontario’s public colleges are not intended to have a bicameral governance structure. The legislative and regulatory framework does not support such a structure and instead holds the board of governors accountable for the college.” Ultimately she concludes that “the board must act” and either disband senate or revise it substantially, offering several forms of advisory council, consultation and a faculty “lounge” to replace it in collegial governance.  Governance Review (PDF)


Dissolving the Senate

This whole subject came to my attention when OPSEU issued a very public statement Friday on “the abolition of Sheridan College’s academic senate.” OPSEU is “gravely concerned and disappointed” at what they call a “blatant and cynical refusal to work meaningfully with faculty,” based on “a spurious claim that it was not compliant with legislation.” (CAUT echoed OPSEU’s disappointment on Facebook.) I spent a few hours last night trying to uncover news coverage, official announcements, or even board minutes, but there was just nothing online about this. (Mention of the senate seems to have been purged from the Sheridan website, though, and only the board is now listed among “governing bodies.”)


So quite late last night I reached out to Sheridan VP External, Christine Szustaczek. I owe her an apology, and sincere thanks for sharing the internal announcement with me…


Moving Forward

On Mar 25, board chair John Fleming wrote the Sheridan community to summarize the key findings of the governance review. He emphasized that the very existence of a senate did not comply with provincial legislation, that many functions were inefficient and redundant, and that “exclusive powers on academic matters” where “wrongly delegated to Senate” when the board is held accountable by the province. “To that end, the Board of Governors has exercised its authority to immediately dissolve Senate and the Emergency Academic Senate as per a Board motion.” Instead, Sheridan will form an Advisory Council to provide faculty, staff and students a mechanism to provide advice to the president, and develop a consultation policy “to affirm that meaningful faculty consultation will be undertaken before academic decisions are made.” He reiterates, “Robust community engagement is deeply embedded in Sheridan’s culture, planning and practices. Decisions relating to academic policy and advancement of the academic mission will always be informed by the knowledge and experience of academic colleagues.”


“Unlike Universities, Ontario’s regulatory framework on Colleges holds Boards explicitly and exclusively accountable. As a result, the existence of Sheridan’s Senate is non-compliant with the legislation that establishes the college system in Ontario.” – John Fleming, Board Chair, Sheridan College



COVID on Campus

Since Friday, there have been 97 more cases of COVID19 reported by CdnPSEs. (See my master spreadsheet for a running tally of 2,300+ cases in CdnPSE since Sept 2020.)  But I need to start with a correction…


In some editions of the Insider last Friday, I reported 33 on-campus cases at Algonquin College, although I indicated “no dates were provided” on the tracking page. Chris Lackner reached out to me to clarify that AC has tracked a total of 33 cases since the pandemic began 14 months ago, and 32 since September. (I relayed reports of the first 19 of them last fall, so I have added 13 to my spreadsheet.) Just 7 cases remain active now.  AC


Durham College reported a new case on its Oshawa campus Apr 9.  DC


King’s UC (at Western) reports an outbreak in the King’s Commons residence, with 7 people testing positive.  London Free Press


Lakeland College, in Vermilion AB, reports a campus outbreak of at least 56 cases (52 students and 4 staff) caused by off-campus social gatherings. 45 cases are confirmed to be the UK (B.1.1.7) variant. 26 students are in isolation on campus. The outbreak was initially declared Apr 5, since which time classes for Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Interior Design Technology have been moved online.  CBC


McMaster U reported a case on campus Apr 9. The student was last on campus Apr 6.  Mac


Mount Royal U president Tim Rahilly reports 26 cases on campus since January, among contractors, staff or students, and 93 cases since the pandemic began. (Up from 1 I previously reported.)  YouTube


Red River College reported a case on their Notre Dame campus Apr 8. The individual was on campus, symptomatic, on Apr 6. Close contacts have been advised to self-isolate.  RRC


Ryerson U student residence Pitman Hall is reportedly the site of an outbreak that has led to 3 positive cases among contract cleaning staff.  Ryersonian


Western U has a 7th active residence outbreak, at Perth Hall, declared by the local health unit on Friday. Only 1 first-year residence building, Lambton Hall, remains outbreak-free. (Case numbers will be released later today. I am assuming at least 3 cases.)  Global


Queen’s Students Overrun Park

Despite Ontario’s province-wide shutdown and state of emergency declared Apr 8, students have been overcrowding Breakwater Park along the Kingston waterfront. (An outbreak in the University District has reached 70 confirmed cases of COVID19, mostly VOCs.) The Mayor issued an emergency order on Friday to close the park for 10 days, until the date Queen’s U students move out of residence. Fencing has been erected to close the park, and bylaw enforcement officers will levy $2,060 penalties for failure to comply with an emergency order.  Global


“Even if the lockdown measures work perfectly, we won’t see the effects of that for at least two weeks. So there’s no sense that we’ll be out of this any time in the very short term.”Chris Mackie, London-Middlesex MOH



Other Bad News

Other than the raging pandemic, Laurentian’s implosion, a recession, and the fact that it’s Monday, there’s more…


45% Tuition Hike at UofA

uAlberta is proposing an astounding 45% increase in tuition for incoming students in the Faculty of Law’s juris doctor program, according to an email from the Dean on Apr 6. Tuition would rise $5,266 to $16,967, starting Fall 2022. The Faculty argues the increase will fund smaller class sizes, expanded course offerings, the continued operation of the Law library, and a 20% increase in bursaries. “Without increased tuition, the quality of our program is at risk.” Alberta Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides still needs to approve the increase.  Edmonton Journal


Harvard Gets More Selective

As applicants swamp the admissions pipeline at elite colleges around the world, the most selective institutions are getting even more selective. Harvard College announced last week that they accepted a record-low 3.43% of applicants for this fall – 1,968 students out of 57,435 applicants, the smallest fraction in history. (Applications to Harvard surged by 43% this year over last.) This fall’s incoming class will also include 349 students who deferred last year’s admission.  Harvard Crimson


USC Pays $1B to Victims

The University of Southern California has agreed to pay $852M to 710 women who claim to have been sexually abused or assaulted by a former gynaecologist at the student health centre, George Tyndall. This is in addition to a $215M settlement last year for a class action lawsuit for up to 18,000 women who consulted him over 30 years. Tyndall was arrested in 2019 and awaits trial. BMJ


Oopsie at uKentucky

If you work in admissions, it’s your worst nightmare come true. On Mar 15, uKentucky mistakenly sent acceptance emails to all 500,000 contacts in their CRM, whether they had applied or not. (The limited enrolment clinical leadership program in the College of Health Sciences normally accepts 35-40 students.) Within 24 hours, UK sent out an apology email, since which time the story has been picked up by national news media.  LEX18 News




Thanks for reading, even if that was a rough start to the week!  (Hopefully it can only go up from here…)

Please do drop me a line if you spot something interesting, thought-provoking or cool happening on your campus, or elsewhere in the world!

Stay safe and be well,




Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please answer the question below to confirm that you are not a spambot * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

All contents copyright © 2014 Eduvation Inc. All rights reserved.