The governance of Memorial University and its campus in Corner Brook, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, was the subject of some discussion when the university’s Board of Regents met for its regular meeting on May 22, 2007. Prior to the board meeting, Gil Dalton, chair of Memorial’s Board of Regents, had held a meeting with government officials on the same topic.
The meetings are timely as university governance was the focus of a recently released report commissioned by the provincial government. That report, which was prepared by European consultants Prof. John Davies and Prof. John Kelly, considered several options for a new governance structure for Memorial, all designed to provide increased autonomy for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. The consultants’ report is available at www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/pub/swgc-review.pdf
The consultants’ preferred option (referred to as Option 1 (a)) envisages one Board of Regents overseeing the operation of two separate universities, one located in St. John’s and one in Corner Brook.
“Because the Board of Regents is primarily comprised of volunteers, it is very likely, under option 1(a), that the board would need to acquire professional staff (in the form of a board secretariat) to support its role and duties for overall management of both institutions,” Mr. Dalton said. “This extra cost may be avoided if instead there were two boards each working within one provincial university system. The university will do further analysis on this and other possibilities for consideration at the next board meeting on July 19, 2007.”
The Board of Regents has instructed the university’s administration to develop a detailed analysis of two alternatives summarized as follows:
1. One university with campuses in St. John’s and Corner Brook based on principles in Option 1 (b) of the Davies-Kelly Review with the possibility of two Senates, if necessary, and
2. Two independent universities – one in St. John’s and one in Corner Brook – each with its own Board of Regents but working together within one provincial university system. This would be a variation of the 1(a) option recommended by the report.
“The analysis will be conducted over the next several weeks, with input being solicited from all areas of the university, including Sir Wilfred Grenfell College’s senior administration,“ said Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial’s president. “The advice will be provided to the Board of Regents in time for its July 19, 2007, meeting.”
He added that the university’s academic governing body, Senate, recently formed an ad hoc committee, which includes members from the Grenfell College and St. John’s campuses, to review the Davies-Kelly report in time for discussion at the Senate’s June 12 meeting.