The senate is the supreme governing body on all academic matters at the university, charged with determining the educational policy of the institution and the implementation of its academic mission.
The University of Ottawa Act, 1965, mandates you, the president, to be the chair of the senate. This is therefore your most important statutory and leadership role in the university community as part of the university’s collegial governance. This is true for both new and continuing senate members, especially at the beginning of the fall semester, when we are all looking to get off to a fresh start in our work on campus.

Therefore, I am worried that the proper respect and functioning of senate is at risk when you do not come to meetings or when you leave before the meeting has finished.

You were absent from the May and June 2011 meetings of the senate, without providing explanation. At the meeting of last Monday, Sept. 12, you left the senate early. This was your third unexplained absence in a row, on the important first meeting of the semester. You also missed the November and December 2010 senate meetings, meaning that you have been absent or partially absent from five of the last nine meetings of the senate. Such systematic absences of the chair are unprecedented at our institution.

The president’s attendance for full sessions of the senate’s meetings is of great importance. This includes the “For Information” section, where individual elected senators, representing entire constituencies on campus, often announce future senate work and concerns that the chair, who is also the chief executive officer of the U of O corporation, should be aware of.
As president, chairing the senate is a primary responsibility to the institution, as per Article 16(1) of the University of Ottawa Act.

Could you please inform the members of senate of what business you had at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 that required you to leave the senate’s first session of the fall 2011 semester?

It is troubling to see your absence continuing into the new semester. I hope that the members of senate can look forward to a year of fruitful work with you as chair to lead their monthly meetings.

Joseph Hickey
Graduate student senate
representative, sciences