Responses have been released to UNB’s Senior Administration Responsibility Review, with the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers (AUNBT) saying that while it is a step in the right direction, serious issues of university governance still need to be addressed.
The review, commissioned by the Board of Governors and conducted by an external committee, was launched last June, with the mission to “examine the distribution of duties, responsibilities and authority among the president and vice-presidents at UNB.”
AUNBT president Miriam Jones was initially skeptical about the value of the review, but believes the final report contains a number of useful suggestions and observations.
“It had been planned with no input from the wider university community and it happened extremely quickly,” she said.
“Many feel that UNB needs an honest evaluation of the performances of the individuals in the upper administration, rather than merely a discussion of their roles. However, the report did in fact manage to address some of those issues, albeit obliquely.”
The finished review contains 16 recommendations, mostly dealing with administrative shuffles, such as changing the title of the vice-president finance and corporate services to vice-president finance and administration.
But some suggestions give a glimpse into the priorities of the administration. The review concluded that “administrative structure and processes of UNB are preventing the University from reaching its potential.”
The review suggested such things as reorganizing a financial management system reported to be seriously outdated, suggesting a two-day retreat for senior academic and administrative leaders and that the UNB Fredericton budget process is more inconsistent than that of UNB Saint John.
UNB president Eddy Campbell said it was too early for him to make his own conclusions.
“I believe it is prudent for any organization to review how it operates to see if it can make improvements,” he said. “If we can gain insight into how we might structure administration more effectively, that’s a good step. But it isn’t for me to pass judgment on the findings at this point. I want to see first what the UNB community is thinking.”
Campbell said all responses to the Review are currently being collected, and after another round of comments on that feedback, senior management will make a recommendation to the executive committee of the Board of Governors.
“It’s all a part of the collegial and consultative process,” he said.
While the Review does not directly address any of the issues raised in last year’s faculty strike, Jones believes that it is a step in the direction of reconsidering how the university is run.
“There are many questions left over from the last round of bargaining and the administrative response to the strike,” she said. “So yes, action, or a series of actions, is clearly necessary. [This review] did open the door a crack and invite some consideration of how UNB administration is organized.”