MONTREAL, Jan. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - In recent days, Concordia's Board of
Governors has been criticized for not being more forthcoming in
relation to Dr. Judith Woodsworth's resignation as President of the
University. I would, therefore, like to put her departure in context.
At the outset, let me emphasize that the 42-member Board of Governors
brings together students, staff, faculty, alumni and external members,
and it has always been committed to acting at all times in the best
interests of the University and in a spirit of openness toward our
The members of the board take seriously their responsibilities at
Concordia. They are generous volunteers who are on our board because of
the professional attributes and experience they have in providing and
supporting leadership and because of their commitment to the University
and to their community. Their determination to do what is best for
Concordia has been their guiding principle over the past several weeks.
Notwithstanding our support of the principle of transparency, good
governance requires, among other things, that the Board respect
confidentiality agreements in conducting the business of the
University. The statement that Concordia issued on December 22nd was approved by both Concordia and Dr. Woodsworth, and both parties are
accordingly limited in what each can say publicly. I also believe that
individuals should have the right to privacy.
Turning to the wider issue of where Concordia stands today, there is
little question that our University, which is such an important part of
the very fabric of Montreal, is a success story.
High-quality student applications to Concordia remain at record levels.
In recent years, we have renewed our faculty—recruiting and retaining
leaders in their fields who are known for their teaching and research
abilities. We will soon be completing our Knowledge Infrastructure
Program building projects awarded by the Federal and Quebec governments
- an $80 million initiative that will usher in new opportunities for
researchers and students alike in areas ranging from genomics to solar
energy, and exercise science.
Most importantly, Concordia is on solid financial footing. We take our
role as stewards of public funds very seriously.We have worked
diligently to balance our budget and to reduce our accumulated debt,
while overseeing major real estate projects that have come in on time
and on budget. In fact, Concordia has one of the lowest accumulated
deficits of any Quebec university.
We are determined to build on this solid foundation and have established
ambitious yet attainable goals for ourselves through our Strategic
Framework. Our commitment is to focus on Concordia's strengths,
striking a balance between our tradition as a welcoming and engaged
university, and our mission of building on excellence in education,
research, creative activity and community partnerships. We aim to rank
among Canada's top comprehensive universities within the next decade
and to be a first choice university for students and faculty in Canada
and internationally in defined fields, or "signature areas."
It was in this context and following discussions with members of the
Board during the month of December that Dr. Woodsworth made the
decision to resign.
Some have suggested that Dr.Woodsworth's departure is related to the
misuse of funds on her part or by her husband. This is simply untrue
and is unfair and irresponsible speculation. Moreover, any potential
conflicts of interest were brought to the attention of the Board in
accordance with our rules and regulations. If anything, in her expenses
approved by me, Dr. Woodsworth erred on the side of conservatism and
It is understandable that the Concordia community may have concerns
about recent events and their potential impact on the University. I am
optimistic about Concordia for several reasons. The teaching, research
and community service activities of the university continue
uninterrupted and unaffected during this transition phase.
The Board has full confidence in our strong senior management team and
in our faculty, whose excellence has already taken us far in making
Concordia a top choice for students and faculty. We are committed to
moving forward and building on our strengths. In an extremely
competitive market for students, professors, administrators and
funding, it is essential that we have the right leadership in place.
I should also point out that we have been reviewing governance issues
over the last 18 months and this remains an ongoing priority of the
The executive committee of the Board will be reviewing candidates for
the position of Interim President this week and will be subsequently
making a recommendation to the full Board. Our goal is to have the
chosen individual in place before the end of this month. We are looking
for a leader who has the capacity to reach out to all members of the
Concordia community and build enthusiasm and commitment towards the
attainment of our common goals. The Interim President will have a clear
mandate to pursue the implementation of our Strategic Framework and
will have concrete objectives for his or her anticipated 12-18 month
The Board will also be setting up a selection committee for the new
President in due course. One of its first tasks will be to determine
the profile of our next leader. In so doing, we will be proactively
seeking the input of all members of the Concordia community.
Chair of the Board of Governors
SOURCE CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY
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