Message to the Concordia Community from Peter Kruyt, Chair of the Board of Governors

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 community.

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 prudence.

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 Board.

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 tenure.

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.

Peter Kruyt
Chair of the Board of Governors
Concordia University


For further information:

Christine Mota
University Spokesperson
Director, Media Relations
Tel: 514-848-2424, ext. 4884
Cel: 514-952-5556

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