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Engineering and education faculties pass motions

UPDATE, Apr 3, 4:10 p.m.: An earlier version of this story noted Marcelo Santos as the chair of the faculty of engineering.

UNB engineering and education faculties passed motions regarding their confidence in the university senior administration on Wednesday.

The engineering faculty passed a motion of non-confidence. It passed with 36 in favour, 6 against and 1 abstention. This makes a total of four faculties at UNB to pass non-confidence motions.

The education faculty’s motion wasn’t quite a non-confidence motion, but did say their confidence has been “shaken.” It passed 23 in favour, and one abstention.

The faculties have been passing these motions because they are concerned with UNB’s future. They argue there is a lack of transparency with UNB’s financial planning. And with academic departments receiving $1.2 million in cuts, they fear the university has strayed away from its core academic mission.

“This is basically just a message in the sense that we hope the Board of Governors and Senate can understand that we are very concerned with transparency and conventionality and we hope things will be different,” said Marcelo Santos, professor for and chair of the department of geodesy and geomatics engineering.

With the cuts the faculties have been facing, Santos said there have been concerns of about the engineering department’s future.

“All our programs are accredited, and the way things are, [with] the loss of faculty, we’re actually not sure what’s going to happen with accreditation . . . without accreditation, there can’t be a department of engineering,” Santos said.

Though the education faculty’s motion doesn’t exactly state non-confidence, it still echoes the similar concerns of the ones that have been passed, such as current management and finance practices.  However, their motion also includes a commitment for the faculty to be more engaged with UNB’s governance.

“We recognize that some of the shift in the university has been because faculty have maybe been too focused on their own work from time to time and haven’t been engaging fully in governance,” said education professor Alan Sears. “Our motion does commit us to engaging collaboratively in the current structures of collegial governance, and any new initiatives consistent with those.”

Sears said he would like to see more transparency, such as open town hall meetings as a result of the motions.

“I know that those will be difficult for senior administrators. They’re liable to be heavily criticized, but I think that’s the price of leadership,” he said.

“There are often invitations to meet privately with people or to do things individually. I think what faculty want across the university are more open processes.”

Though the university hasn’t given much response to the motions, Sears said it’s something they will need to address soon.

“If you have a human resource section where a large number of critical employees don’t have faith in management, that’s a serious issue in any organization. It would be a failure of leadership by the board and the senior administration not to do anything,” he said.

“I don’t think this is going to go away. It could be that some people hope it does.”

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