Nfld. & Labrador

Grenfell associate V-P resigns, disagrees with how university operates

The third and final associate vice-president at Memorial University's Grenfell Campus has resigned, citing differing views on how autonomous the Corner Brook campus should be.
The third associate vice-president at Memorial University's Grenfell campus in Corner Brook has resigned his administrative position. (CBC)

The third and final associate vice-president at Memorial University's Grenfell Campus has resigned, citing differing views on how autonomous the Corner Brook campus should be.

David Peddle, who was the associate vice-president academic for the university until he resigned his administrative position, says he has different philosophical views than those of vice-president Mary Bluechardt.

"We look at the way Grenfell should be governed in quite different ways," Peddle told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show Monday.

A lot of the operational budgetary decisions that have to be made at Grenfell, we need to go and look for approval from St. John's.- David Peddle

"I think that Grenfell needs to have budgetary and operational control in order to run itself efficiently in order to empower Grenfell administration with the kind of energy and confidence and responsibility it needs to run the place."

Peddle added he doesn't place blame on Bluechardt, but rather hopes the resignations will serve as motivation for the university to consider a different approach when it comes to Grenfell's governance.

"The difficulty is in the very institutional structure. A lot of the operational budgetary decisions that have to be made at Grenfell, we need to go and look for approval from St. John's."

'It saps the energy'

According to Peddle, the university itself plays an important role in the local culture and economy, but trying to get someone in St. John's to understand an issue that may only be relevant to west coast students and staff is a challenge.

"Their constituency on the other side of the overpass is that greater Avalon region and so on, and while they have some provincial responsibilities, what benefits Memorial and St. John's benefits St. John's and they have the authority and structure to make that happen," he said.
David Peddle resigned his associate vice-president role at Memorial University's Grenfell campus, citing philosophical differences with administration. (CBC)

"We need the same thing for Corner Brook and the western region."

Peddle said the issue is "not about splitting up the university" and there needs to be one overall centre where Memorial's boards will operate, but added the people in Corner Brook should have more input on what happens at the Grenfell campus.

"There's no value by having us report to St. John's and it saps the energy of the administration to make decisions, saps the energy of the faculty," he said.

Two other resignations last year

Last year, the two other associate vice-presidents resigned their administrative positions at the Grenfell campus.

Bluechardt said the other two associate v-ps resigned for entirely different reasons: one transferred to St. John's to be closer to family, while the other returned to a former teaching and research position after securing national research grants.

"Unfortunately, we have had to say goodbye to three capable and accomplished people in associate vice-presidents roles; each of those individuals stepped down for three very different reasons and should not be linked as has been implied in recent media reports," Bluechardt said.

"While we are always sad to say goodbye, I have already taken action to ensure measures are in place to continue the work of each portfolio."

Bluechardt issues response

Bluechardt issued a lengthy statement late Monday afternoon discussing the strengths and successes of the Grenfell campus and thanking the associate vice-presidents who have resigned.

In the statement, Bluechardt discussed Grenfell's new academic structure, which she said will give Grenfell more flexibility and freedom in its decision making.

Dr. Mary Bluechardt is the vice-president at MUN's Grenfell campus. (CBC)

"Most recently, our proposal to move our academic structure from a system of heads and divisions to one of deans and schools, an initiative that was spearheaded by our former associate vice-president academic, was passed by both the senate and the board," she said.

"We are so pleased to be able to move into an academic structure that is in sync with universities across the country. And while the multi-campus system allows us direct access to these governing bodies, it also gives us the flexibility to make operational decisions that are best for Grenfell, right here at home. This duality strengthens the multi-campus system, giving us flexibility and freedom in our decision making."

Peddle to return as an instructor

Despite the resignation, Peddle said he will retain his role as a philosophy instructor at Grenfell.

As for the impact of all three associate vice-presidents stepping down, Peddle said there will be a "weakening of the leadership" at the university, adding the people in interim roles don't have the same level of authority to take action.

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