A closer look at governance and accountability at Memorial

Most democratic societies support autonomy for their universities because they recognize that independent, evidence-based and rigorous analyses are vital to understanding and addressing the important issues of the day.

Governments also rightly require accountability and transparency in return for the significant investments of resources they provide to universities. The balance between university autonomy and accountability has been an ongoing dialogue for many years, as boundary conditions around higher education operations change.

In view of our province’s current fiscal challenges, it is not unexpected that Memorial be challenged to demonstrate its wise stewardship of resources. Memorial will continue to be open and transparent while maintaining institutional autonomy. We will do this through our governance structures and accountability provisions and endeavour to identify how our transparency measures might be improved.

Memorial has a bicameral system of governance, composed of the Board of Regents and Senate, which oversee the administrative and academic matters of the institution.

For more information, please visit Memorial’s governance webpage.

In December 2016 the Board of Regents engaged a governance specialist to undertake a review of board culture, policies and practices to ensure Memorial’s governing body was aligned with best practices among Canadian universities. More information about that review, including the final report, is available online.

Memorial shares a wealth of information online that contributes to transparency and accountability, including strategic plans and annual reports to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador; frameworks and other planning documents that guide the activities and operations of the university; audited financial statements; and fact books and other performance data. Earlier this year, the Information Access and Privacy Protection Office, charged with developing best practices in information access and ensuring compliance with privacy legislation, began posting a weekly summary of completed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (ATIPP) requests.

University budgeting

Working with the president and Vice-Presidents Council, the provost and vice-president (academic) is responsible for ensuring university planning and budgets align with the university’s mission. The provost consults and collaborates with a number of bodies, including Vice-Presidents Council, the Board of Regents, and the Senate Planning and Budget Committee, among others, regarding budgetary issues and decisions.

Budget updates are shared online with the university community.