An image of a sign displaying the name and logo of York University, situated at the York Boulevard entrance to the Keele campus, in winter
The Board of Governors has accepted the recommendation of the presidential search committee and appointed Provost Rhonda Lenton as the next President of York University. For the last few months, YUFA has been working with the York Cross-Campus Alliance (CCA), representing the main employee associations and student federations on campus, to call attention to the flawed and secretive search process, which concluded with yesterday’s appointment.
In particular, we have expressed serious concerns about the lack of meaningful consultation with the major stakeholders on campus: students, staff, and faculty. To the extent that any consultations took place, our contributions were almost entirely ignored or dismissed.
Prior to the Board’s “closed session” during which the appointment was finalized, representatives of the CCA from the York Federation of Students, the York University Graduate Students’ Association, and YUFA were given time to speak, but for only ten minutes. In that time, we articulated our concerns about the lack of collegial and community input into the search and other aspects of governance at York. We invited questions, but none of the Board members responded.
Four representatives of the York Cross-Campus Alliance attended the Board of Governors meeting on February 28, 2017 (L-R): Richard Wellen, YUFA President; Walter Silva, CUPE 1356 President; Rawan Habib, YFS Vice-President Campaigns; Mina Rajabi, YUGSA President.
Before the meeting, we issued this open letter, which we also distributed to the Board during the meeting itself. The letter has been quoted in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star in media coverage of the appointment.
At this time, we feel it is important to congratulate Dr. Lenton as she prepares to take on her new role as leader of York University. We look forward to engaging with her and her new administration to explore ways to enhance York’s academic mission and to create a more collegial university and a more constructive approach to labour relations.
We also welcome Dr. Lenton’s comments following her appointment yesterday, which acknowledge the “very diverse range of opinions” that exist across campus, and her responsibility as president to engage “the entire community in collegial discussion about the future direction of the University.” The challenge in the months ahead is to find more ways for those perspectives to be meaningfully included in the governance of our university.
The YUFA Executive Committee appreciates the input of the hundreds of YUFA members who expressed their views about the search and the need to enhance collegial governance at York. Similarly, the Executive is grateful for the collaboration of the CCA, in amplifying the concerns of each of its memberships, and for the opportunity to build greater unity among our constituencies.
To that end, YUFA and the other members of the CCA have already begun discussions about the need for a comprehensive review and discussion of governance structures and procedures at our university, as a means to address the widening collegial and democratic deficits that plague decision-making at York. We hope that this process will play a role in shaping YUFA’s bargaining agenda for the 2018 round of negotiations, and in bringing about real and positive change on campus for the entirety of the York University community.