At today’s UOIT Board of Governors meeting, the Student Association and the Faculty Association made presentations to the UOIT Board of Governors regarding a policy passed at the previous meeting (UOIT’s Annual General Meeting of the Board) that sought to restrict the public’s participation in Board meetings and meetings of its committees.
The UOITFA has developed a deep interest in governance issues at UOIT and in the university sector in Ontario and beyond. Our philosophical reflections about the uni- or bi-cameral character of UOIT has shifted to emerging governance challenges in light of the recently passed policy by the BoG Standing Committee on Governance, Nominations and Human Resources (GNHR) on Sept 16th, 2015 following the BoG AGM in June, that creates obstacles for participating in the Board’s activities and its standing committees. Our letter criticizes the policy in light of what the UOIT Act states and encourages: open access, inspiring attendance an inviting participation from multiple communities.
The BoG Confidentiality Agreement may be used as a reference point. It states that ‘regular board meetings are open to the public’ without qualifications. This agrees with the UOIT Act but not the new policy.
Further, the UOIT Act states clearly that Board standing committees are open to the public, yet the aforementioned Confidentiality Agreement says: ‘Standing committees … are non-public’.
The FA believes that these tensions across policy formation, the UOIT Act and BoG Confidentiality Agreement can be normalized, but this is more than housekeeping. It is a matter of principle that requires a coordinated commitment to open and collegial decision-making.
In our letter we provide examples from University of Toronto of how its governing councils accommodate public participation. We also urge the integration of non-Board members into Board standing committees.
The FA encourages the BoG to reconsider the policy decision it has taken. We learned at the BoG meeting on October 21st that the policy will be revisited and discussion continues. The issue may reappear on the GNHR’s November agenda.