Workshop's Draft Report

Luigi M Bianchi (lbianchi@YorkU.CA)
Thu, 26 Jun 1997 23:25:53 -0500


Here is the draft of what is unavoidably a subjective summary
of our workshop on university governance. Please send me
corrections, additions, and clarifications. Sometime next week
I will incorporate them in the draft, which I will send to you
for final approval. Once we are happy with it, I will send it
to the YUFA Executive.

Thank you,


Luigi M Bianchi

1. The Problems

The main problem with which any discussion about governance
must begin is the fact that there are three components the nature
of which is poorly defined: the Collegium, YUFA, and the BoG/
Administration, and of course the students. As Leslie Sanders put
it, we all wear several hats. The problem can be restated in terms
of the York Act and the Collective Agreement. The fact that the
former is incorporated by reference in the latter does not make
things easier.

Examples of specific issues where these poorly defined
relationships became apparent are tenure & promotion, class size,

In some sense we are unionized employees. In another sense
we are a self-organizing, protected community of scholars and
teachers, and the administration is there to serve us, and thus
accountable to us. In yet another sense, what we do comes
before our allegiance to the union--academic values come first.
Who does a senator represent? The collegium, the faculty,
the department, other constituencies? What is a 'YUFA senator?

Would some of these question resolve themselves if the people
appointed or elected to the BoG and to the various administrative
positions had a much better grasp of what a collegium is?

Clearly information and communication are vital to a cooperative
relationship between faculty, union and administration. The
strike was very much about the obstinate unwillingness of the
administration to open up its books. Senate and its committees
are often given inadequate and last-minute information about very
complex issues. This state of affairs generates apathy and often
withdrawal among the faculty.

2. The Solutions

In order to define less ambiguously the various components of
our system, we should look at other institutions and other
models of governance. Perhaps the now defunct Senate Committee
on the Structure of Senate could be resurrected and its scope

Bob Drummond suggested a useful exercise: let's create a new
university, at least on paper, from scratch. What kind of
structures would we like or need to set up? What kind of
decisions would we want to keep at the individual level? Which
ones at the collective level? Which ones might or ought to be
delegated? To whom? How would we enforce the rules we

There is a lot of expertise among the faculty. Perhaps we could
create a sort of 'shadow administration', to quote Peter Penz.
We certainly must be much more pro-active, particularly in
committees, where, as Ingrid Splettstoesser suggested, we could
represent the 'continuity', instead of leaving this function to
the secretaries. Helen Doan that in addition to participating
in the existing committees, we should consider the possibility
of creating new ones which respond to needs not covered by
what is presently there. Keith Aldridge argued that we should
apply maximum energy and exercise maximum alertness in all the
structures we participate in.

In addition to our participation in committees, we could also
create new structures, from the bottom up, as Gail Kellough
proposed. These structures may cut across the traditional
boundaries of departments, faculties, centers, schools. The
stewards network, the gates, these very workshops are examples.

Committees should themselves be accountable to the collegium,
just like the administrators. But in order for the collegium to
be in a position to ask questions and to know what it is entitled
to expect from such committees, it should be familiar with the
terms of reference of each committee.

Finally, several participants argued that we should try to
attack issues, not persons. Even when pointing out errors
and failures, we should not loose sight of the fact that these
are due only in part to people--they are often the result of
weaknesses, contradictions, etc. of the system. That's where
we must direct our efforts.