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AUNBT notice to members

January 28, 2009
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The following notice was sent out to AUNBT members:

AUNBT reminds members that comments on the Condon/O’Sullivan Report should be submitted in the near future.  Four your information AUNBT has submitted the following comments: [download
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Comments should be submitted to Stephen Strople, University Secretary.

Full text of AUNBT comments below the fold:

To: S. Strople
Re: Bi-Campus Recommendations

While recognizing that the various bi-campus recommendations are ultimately within the jurisdiction of the board of governors, the two senates or the administration, we take this opportunity to respond to the open invitation to comment.  In doing so we acknowledge that the bi-campus report is impressively researched and thoughtfully written.  We direct our remarks to three points in particular.

The report’s principal recommendation is that UNB renew its campaign to persuade the province to award funding to the Saint John and Fredericton campuses separately.  As the university divides its grant between campuses already so as to mimic a separate apportionment, dual provincial grants would not prevent recurrence of the various funding inequities that the Report shows are products of the formula itself.  Although transparency in campus funding would be good, fairness would be better.  We are told that there is no appetite on the part of the province to revise its formula but its Action Plan for higher education says otherwise.  If UNB is to invest energy in pressing the government for separate campus grants, then we suggest that it also join with other universities in urging replacement of a funding formula that is universally condemned as outdated.

We see little merit in the proposal to study the modalities and consequences of breaking UNB into two independent universities.  As we understand it, separation of the campuses is the project of perhaps half a dozen members of the Saint John legal and business community.  No one else wants it.  Why should some committee be condemned to the cruel and difficult task of costing out an eventuality that no one within the university wants?  Such a study might persuade whiners and cranks that the cost of a break-up would be catastrophic, as seems to have been the Commission’s thinking, but it might equally serve as a roadmap for government-imposed separation.  With so many challenges before us, it would be a shame to waste energy on what might become an impetus to the dissolution of UNB.

The proposed community liaison council is said to reflect the Saint John public’s attachment to its Tucker Park campus.  We fear, however, that the sort of community representatives likely to end up on such a committee would be those who viewed the discredited polytechnic proposal with interest and favour. Giving such persons the status of authorized lobbyists to the board of governors would be a source of confusion, at best.  If the Saint John campus is to combine traditional university education with vocational training in a way that would set it apart from the mission of the Fredericton campus, then that initiative must come from the Saint John senate itself, not lobbyists.  Whatever good there may be in the liaison council idea might be accomplished better by making such a council advisory to the vice president (Saint John) rather than the board of governors.  Even then, we are not persuaded of its utility.  Both the UNB Act and the AUNBT collective agreement enshrine the principle of collegial governance, and mechanisms have evolved over decades to answer that end.  Grafting on a new committee at the upper echelons of the university structure would confuse, and likely impede, the transparent and collegial process by which the university community is pledged to make its decisions.

We are grateful for the work of Drs Condon and O’Sullivan and for this opportunity to offer comment.  The provincial Action Plan and the economic crisis have combined to create a period of great uncertainty in UNB affairs.  We caution against heading down by-paths that would deflect energies from our collective goals.

Yours truly,

D.G. Bell, President

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