Laurentian Faculty Association alleges special deals made for university administrators

The union representing faculty at Laurentian University is calling for more transparency in the practices of the university’s board of governors.

Laurentian University says it will not comment on individual contracts

The union representing faculty at Laurentian is calling for more transparency into deals reached with senior administration. (Erik White/CBC )

The union representing faculty at Laurentian University is calling for more transparency in the practices of the university's board of governors.

The Laurentian University Faculty Association says special deals have been made for senior university administrators.  

LUFA president Fabrice Colin says the union discovered the details regarding the former president of the university, Dominic Giroux, when an arbitration decision was released. Giroux is now the CEO and president of the hospital in Sudbury, Health Sciences North.

Colin says Giroux was promised a lifetime right of return as a full professor, starting with a one year administration leave, if he returns to the university.

"So in other words, he can come back to Laurentian University at any time in the future, even in 20 years from now and he would start with one year of paid leave," he said.

Since then, Colin says more information has been obtained through freedom of information requests about other senior administrators, including the former vice-president of research, Rui Wang, interim president Pierre Zundel and interim vice-president academic and provost Serge Demers.

According to LUFA, the following agreements were made with current and former administrators:

  • Rui Wang, former vice-president, research: LUFA says he was given $800,000 as a "start-up allowance" when he was hired in 2014, with a "promise" of a 3,650 square foot lab to be available by the fall of 2015. LUFA says Wang was also given a "discretionary annual budget 50 per cent higher than the sponsored research income per full-time university faculty member."
  • Pierre Zundel, interim president: LUFA says Zundel was promised "reappointment for four years" to his former job of vice-president, academic and provost. LUFA also says Zundel could opt to "become a university research chair in teaching and learning at the Centre for Academic Excellence or another unit "with a salary in the 90th percentile of full professors."
  • Serge Demers, interim vice-president and provost: LUFA says Demers was "promised to be appointed to another senior administrator post if he were terminated without cause." It says Demers was also given a "discretionary annual research budget of $16,900" and that any of it that was unspent "be carried over to subsequent years while at the university."

Colin says he finds some of the details are "quite troubling."

'Healthy management' of public money

"It is another sign of how the corporate model is becoming increasingly prevalent in our universities," he said.

"These sweetheart deals are shocking given the university's deficit and the administration's demands for cutting services and staff."

Colin says the union is releasing the details as Laurentian is a publicly funded institution.

"I think it's a part of the healthy management of public money," he said.

"It's important because we feel that the board of governors should implement a more transparent model of the appointment process, including the terms and conditions for senior administrators."

For its part, Laurentian University issued the following statement:

"Laurentian University will not comment on the specifics of individual contracts to which LUFA has had access. The university sector is a sector which is highly regulated by compensation restraint regimes with which Laurentian is, and has been, compliant."

With files from Kate Rutherford


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