Following years of extraordinary mismanagement by administrators, Laurentian University is attempting to address its current financial insolvency by eliminating a shocking number of academic programs and tenured positions. The Department of Philosophy and several of its faculty are among those slated for elimination.100 professors at Laurentian received termination notices today, and 58 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs will cease, the CBC reports. In addition to philosophy, programs in mathematics, physics, political science, anthropology, environmental science and studies, and many other fields were cut. The full list of canceled programs is here.
The Globe and Mail provides the background against which the cuts are taking place:
Laurentian declared insolvency in February just as it was on the verge of being unable to meet payroll. It has debts of nearly $100-million from a building spree that didn’t produce enrolment gains and it ran deficits in the range of $2-million to $5-million a year for several years, according to its court filings. It also spent millions in grants earmarked for research to keep the lights on, owing in part to the practice of having just one bank account where incoming funds from various sources were mixed. [emphasis added]
The university is effectively declaring bankruptcy, seeking protection from creditors as it restructures itself. The Globe and Mail reports:
It’s the first time a publicly funded university in Canada has used a court process normally reserved for private corporations, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which gives the court wide latitude to achieve a settlement. The Laurentian Faculty Association, which represents about 380 professors at Laurentian and its federated universities [Sudbury, Huntington and Thorneloe Universities; see here], has criticized the use of this court process for a public institution. The provincial government has so far refused to heed calls to step in to help, despite protests in Sudbury…
Laurentian has made clear it intends to reduce teaching costs through the insolvency process, rather than through the financial exigency clause in its collective agreements. Faculty say they tried to negotiate with the university for months before the insolvency was triggered, but the university refused.
Laurentian University’s president and vice-chancellor is Robert Haché; the members of the Board of Governors are listed here. Other information about the Laurentian University administration can be found here.
(via Ben Hale)
UPDATE (4/15/21): “A group of students is working on raising funds for students affected at Laurentian University in both Undergraduate and Graduate programs to assist them during this difficult and unprecedented time.”