Memorial University’s Board of Regents will engage an external party with expertise in board governance to conduct a review/assessment of its culture, policies, procedures and practices and make recommendations to ensure they align with best practices among Canadian universities.
The review will examine confidentiality requirements; a code of conduct; the interaction between governance and administration; feedback mechanisms for board members; orientation and professional development for board members; and other related matters.
The findings and recommendations from the review will be made public, with due regard to privacy legislation requirements.
The decision to conduct the governance review/assessment was taken today at a special meeting of the university’s governing body held to discuss the implications of the recent resignation of a regent and to determine next steps.
Brittany Lennox, one of the students on the Board of Regents, resigned on Nov. 14, expressing concerns about how she was treated on the board and about the board’s culture. In her resignation letter, she asked the board “to undertake solutions to provide a more respectful and inclusive environment for all of its members.”
“It was important that we take this time to reflect upon the concerns Ms. Lennox raised and develop an appropriate course of action to consider them promptly,” said Iris Petten, chair of the Board of Regents. “That is what the board has now done.”
“The board is committed to the timely, thorough and transparent handling of this matter and is hopeful that a reviewer can be engaged in the next few weeks and complete the work in the next few months,” said Ms. Petten. “We value students’ opinions and contributions on the board. And we are always looking to improve that governance experience for students and other board members. This review will help us do that.”
President Gary Kachanoski said the board’s course of action is forward-looking and appropriate. “It is important that complaints from board members be taken seriously, as this one has been, and that they drive us to further improvement,” he added.
Under the provincial Memorial University Act, the Board of Regents oversees “the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the university.” The minutes of Board of Regent meetings dating back to 1991 are available online.