Memorial University’s Board of Regents has selected the consultant to conduct a review of its governance.
In December 2016 Board of Regents Chair Iris Petten announced that a governance review would be undertaken by a reviewer experienced in university board governance, following the November 2016 resignation of a student member of the board who expressed concerns about the board’s culture.
Harriet Lewis will conduct a review and assessment of the board’s culture, policies, procedures and practices. A lawyer, Ms. Lewis has more than 25 years’ experience in university governance, having been the former university secretary and general counsel (supporting the Senate and Board of Governors) at York University from 1998-2014. As a consultant, she recently undertook a governance review for Wilfrid Laurier University and a review of non-academic discipline for Queen’s University.
The terms of reference for the review direct the reviewer to “undertake a review/assessment of the culture, policies, procedures and practices of the board in the context of the best practices among Canadian universities. Specifically, the review should examine matters such as confidentiality requirements; a code of conduct; the interaction between governance and administration; mechanisms for regularly eliciting board members’ feedback about board governance and operations; orientation and professional development for board members; and other matters that might contribute to inclusive board culture.”
Starting the week of March 13, the reviewer will begin to solicit feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including all current members of the Board of Regents; senior university administrators who regularly attend meetings of the board or directly interact with the board; past members of the board, including the student who made the allegation regarding board culture, and other past student representatives on the board; and representatives of student and faculty/staff unions.
The reviewer will submit a written report by June 15, 2017, setting out “recommendations, having regard to best practices at other Canadian Universities, to ensure an inclusive board culture and good governance practices at the board which are appropriate to a Canadian university and consistent with the Memorial University Act.” After consideration by the Regents, the findings and recommendations from the review will be made public.
Ms. Lewis holds a BA (hons.) and MA from York University and an LLB from the University of Toronto. In addition to her work in private legal practice and later at York University, she has been active in the Canadian university community, including with the Canadian University Boards Association and the Canadian Association of University Solicitors. She is the past president of the Canadian Association of University Solicitors and past chair of the Council of Ontario University Secretaries and of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Task force of the Council of Ontario Universities. She is currently the president of the board of the Psychology Foundation of Canada and vice-president of the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront in Toronto. She was named by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s top 100 most powerful women in 2010.
The terms of reference of the review and biography of the reviewer are available online, http://www.mun.ca/regents/about/governancereview.php.