Western’s Board of Governors has released a report recommending changes to its policies and procedures in the aftermath of President Amit Chakma’s pay controversy earlier this year.
The report was created by a governance review task force chaired by board member Matthew Wilson. The task force held consultations with a number of groups across campus before drafting its recommendations.
It highlights concerns regarding the board’s practices and provides recommendations on improving communication between the board, the university Senate and the campus community.
“This has been a very difficult year for Western. The issue of the president’s compensation and the move for votes of non-confidence at the university’s Senate in the spring deeply affected the community, including the members of the Board of Governors,” the report stated.
According to the report, a common concern the task force came across was that the board was “disconnected and insulated” from the university community and its decisions were often without a full understanding of what was happening around campus.
The report criticized the board for not using the mechanisms in place to collect feedback from the external stakeholders including city council members, community members in the neighbourhood and business partners.
“The board has had different mechanisms in place over the years to allow members of the community external to the campus to bring forward issues and concerns. They have not been well used,” the report stated.
The role of the senior operations committee, which was initially involved in negotiating the president’s contract, came under criticism. The name of the committee doesn’t explicitly explain the role and functioning of the committee, according to the report.
“The role of the senior operations committee has come under particular scrutiny over the past year. Its work is not well understood, nor well communicated.”
The report details recommendations for improving the board’s relations with the campus and external community, the board’s structure, and the role of the board and its members.
The recommendations include the possibility of the board meeting without the presence of administration members and increasing transparency by reviewing what items should be dealt with in open sessions as opposed to closed sessions.
While all the recommendations included in the report cannot be implemented immediately, the task force has advised that the board’s by-law committee to develop, oversee and implement a plan based on the report’s recommendations.
“The meetings held and the submissions received by the task force highlight a common goal that Western emerge from the events of the past year stronger, and well positioned for the future,” the report stated. “To achieve excellence on the world stage, Western also needs to focus on excellent governance for our institution.”
Members of the task force included Wilson, Brian Timney, Brendan Power, Jonathan English, Jeremy Adams, Hanny Hassan, Paul Jenkins, Richard Konrad, Michael Lerner and Susan Grindrod.
The report and its recommendations will be presented to the board for approval at its November 26 meeting.