Concordia is the poor cousin to McGill University, whose shadow casts a mighty pall over everything that Concordia tries to be.
From its ignoble roots as a small night school run by the YMCA called Sir George Williams University, the school is the result of the merger with the Jesuit College of Loyola, way off in the west end of the city and today has grown to become one of the largest second tier universities in Canada.
The school's central campus is the ground floor in a singularly ugly Stalanist looking building in downtown Montreal that enjoys a much deserved reputation as dreary and soulless.
Much as it tries to aspire to greatness, the school will be forever known as the place where you go to earn a degree when you cannot get into McGill.
Now I know there are those who will angrily reply that they did indeed have the qualifications to get into McGill but chose Concordia, for whatever reason.
It's like choosing to visit the Wax Museum while in Paris instead of the Louvre.
The current board of directors, rubber stamps decisions taken by the elite executive committee, which actually runs the university by fiat. This group is made up, with the exception of one, of a group of business tycoons, representing a who's who of powerful Quebec CEO's.
It's clear that the goal of these rich gentlemen is to play catch-up with McGill and somehow enhance the reputation of the school. They are obsessed with growing the school bigger and have embarked on an impressive building program. Try as they may, the school remains the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Montreal Canadiens. You can dress the team up in new uniforms and build a nicer arena, but they still play hockey in a bush league.
The difference between McGill and Concordia is the qualitative difference in staff and students and that will never change. There are not enough good quality English students to fill two massive universities in Montreal.
Poor staff relations and high turnover have always been the hallmark of Concordia which can best be illustrated by the unfortunate Dr. Valery Fabrikant, who in a burst of rage over apparent slights by superiors, went on a shooting spree in 1992 that forever stained the University.
Screaming bloody murder about academic fraud and threats against his life by his Concordia superiors, who he claimed stole credit for his work, Fabrikant was branded insane and bundled off to jail forever.
It now appears, nutty as he was, that his charges of academic fraud were actually true! Read this.
Since the university has no interest in pursuing the truth in defence of a murderer, the motives for the murders will forever be chalked up to unprovoked acts of a madman.
Cover-up and misinformation has always been the hallmark of the Concordia board of directors and the shameful circumstances of the firing of the current Chancellor Judith Woodsworth has finally got those outside the school demanding an explanation.
The sacking of the chancellor midway through her five year term and the golden parachute of 700k awarded to her, was a bit hard to take considering that the Board of Directors announced that she had left for 'personal reasons.' The press release, announcing her departure was issued just before the Christmas break, causing many to believe that a cover-up was afoot. Link
“Gazette sources say members of the board’s elite executive committee made the decision to let Woodsworth go. This group includes the board’s chair, Peter Kruyt, as well as James Cherry, Brian Edwards, Jonathan Wener and Annie Tobias.” LinkFaced with a barrage of criticism and Ms. Woodsworth's reluctant admission later that she was sacked,
“I would have been happy to continue as president, but some board members said that they had lost confidence and they felt I should step down,” she said. “I was not given the reasons, so that's all I can tell you.” LINKIn the face of the truth, The board continued to maintain the lie and arrogantly told all who'd listen -"That's my story and I'm sticking to it"
As with Martha Stewart and Richard Nixon, it's the cover-up that will be the downfall of the school.
Ms.Woodsworth's firing may have very well have been justified.
Certainly there is turmoil in the upper hierarchy of senior management with many recent departures costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance. Her decision to fire two senior members of the audit staff, Ted Nowak and Saad Zubair over a wrongly expensed $250 restaurant bill is going to cost the school hundreds of thousands of dollars. Both men made some startling accusations in labour court over unjustified expenses claimed by Woodsworth, where they are disputing the firings. LINK
Ms. Woodsworth is accused of attending the Olympic Games in Vancouver as a guest of Bell Canada, just months before the school awarded the company a huge contract. Link fr
Revelations over huge salaries, lavish spending and obscene benefits accorded to higher ups is being splashed all over the Press with the Journal de Montreal taking extreme delight in exposing 'English' abuse in academia. Link fr
A 'Professional Development' fund of a $150,000 seems to be nothing more than a slush fund used by executives to pay for personal items. No rules exist other than the expenses should somehow be related to work. So personal computers and telephones are all included. Link
For a long version of events, read the excellently prepared blog piece by Steve Faguy, entitled The Clique de Concordia
While the media has covered the story admirably, perhaps they are too afraid of the powerful members of the Executive Council to say what should be said.
It's time for all of them to be gone. Telling a bold face lie to the public and refusing to retract it in the face of exposure is unacceptable.
Perhaps in the rough and tumble world of business, lying to shareholders is an acceptable practice, but running a university under that model is not.
Late yesterday, in the face of pressure, Mr. Kruyt finally issued a statement which reaffirmed that the Board of Directors is standing by the ridiculous fiction that Ms. Woodsworth resigned of her own accord.
“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.”DISGRACEFUL.......
He said confidentiality agreements limit what he can say publicly about the issue. LINK
I wonder if Power Corporation pays out the balance of employment contracts to people who quit of their own accord.
It's time for the Minister of Education to react. The millions of dollars in golden parachutes, the inflated salaries and expenses is not something the public should be asked to finance.
As it stands, the actions of the Board of Directors of Concordia University is humiliating the entire Anglo community, which cannot nor should not abide by the continuing cover-up.
No donor should give a dime to the university until things improve.
Its time to clean up Concordia and it starts at the top.
Mr. Kruyt and his posse, need to do the honourable thing and resign. We'll send you a plaque.