On Monday, April 12 it was publicly revealed that 110 full-time faculty members and an untold number of contract faculty and staff had lost their jobs and 69 programs (mostly in social sciences and humanities, leaving most STEM programs intact) were being cut at Laurentian University. These devastating cuts are the direct result of the negligence of both the Minister (who was aware of the financial challenges Laurentian was facing at least six months before they became public) and LUs senior administration. The Minister has chosen not to support Laurentian University and its students, faculty, or community. Minister Romano has demonstrated the same resistance to consultation, transparency, and accountability as the Laurentian U administration throughout this debacle. Romano has made numerous announcements regarding the postsecondary education sector without consulting faculty, academic librarians, staff, or students. The above constitute an egregious mishandling of the situation at LU by both the Minister and senior administrators at the university.
This week, the WLUFA executive approved the following Motion calling for the resignations of Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities Ross Romano, The President of Laurentian University, Robert Haché, and his senior leadership team.
The text of the motion is below:
Whereas: The financial crisis facing Laurentian was created by the provincial government which has chronically underfunded Ontario’s universities and has cut or frozen tuition fees without providing equivalent public funding.
Whereas: The provincial government has abandoned an important Northern Ontario university just when faculty, students and staff needed their support most.
Whereas: Minister Romano has repeatedly refused invitations to meet with representatives of OCUFA to discuss the situation at Laurentian and other challenges facing Ontario universities today.
Whereas: The Laurentian University administration chose to engage, with implicit approval from Minister Romano, in secretive, untransparent and inappropriate legal proceedings (using the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act – CCAA) that were imposed on faculty and staff without consultation.
Whereas: Laurentian faculty were also put in a position where they had little choice but to ratify changes to their collective agreement that will see salaries reduced, teaching loads increased, and forced furlough days due to administration of LU’s use of the CCAA process.
Whereas: President Robert Hache and his senior leadership team have failed the university community through chronic mismanagement of its finances.
Whereas: catastrophic changes were imposed on faculty and staff at LU less than 12 hours before their acceptance was required; where faculty and staff were threatened that they had to either accept concessions or risk having the university close completely; where among those who lost their jobs were 17 faculty members who chose retirement to ensure that as many of their colleagues as possible would keep their jobs.
Be It Resolved That: WLUFA, having lost confidence in the Minister’s commitment to the university sector, as well as in LU’s leadership’s ability to lead the university through this crisis, calls for the resignation of the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, and President of Laurentian University, President Robert Hache, and his senior leadership team, in light of their catastrophic mishandling of the situation at LU.