Response to Jim Harrison Editorial

Why Are TRU Faculty Holding a Non-Confidence Vote – Governance 1
April 12, 2016
Why Are TRU Faculty Holding a Non-Confidence Vote – Governance 2
April 13, 2016
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Response to Jim Harrison Editorial

Re: Jim Harrison’s April 13th editorial on Radio NL

Mr. Harrison’s curmudgeonly editorial accuses TRU faculty and the Faculty Association of “whining” and “carping” despite being well compensated and enjoying a “cushy” job. What Mr. Harrison fails to recognize is that the issues he says “should have been addressed at bargaining” were not, and faculty feel that it was due to a failure of administrative leadership. What faculty are currently lobbying for are not more benefits for themselves, but a profound concern about the future of the University and the impact of unilateral decisions by administrators on the credibility of our programs and the success of our students. He feels that speaking out may “diminish the reputation of TRU”; what he doesn’t understand is that by not speaking out, by remaining silent in the face of continuing cuts to front-line education, increased class sizes and a reduction in course offerings, there’s a real possibility that TRU will indeed become a diminished institution.

As for Mr. Harrison’s outright dismissal of faculty concerns about governance, saying that faculty are just “employees,” and that the “tail shouldn’t wag the dog,” he clearly chooses not to understand–or acknowledge–that universities cannot be compared to other workplaces. At universities, faculty are the discipline experts, having experience and credentials to make key decisions about what is best for their students. They are employees–sure–but not subject to the whims of managers who may not have been in the classroom for years and don’t understand the day-to-day challenges that TRU students face.

Even TRU administrators admit that the University must have a shared governance model for academic decision-making. The problem is that, when it doesn’t suit them, administrators don’t consult with faculty or consider faculty perspectives.

Tom Friedman

Listen to Jim Harrison’s April 13th editorial: