It has come to the Union’s attention that many of our members are unaware of the situation, so, on behalf of the CETL faculty, we share their letter with all CCFA members so that you are informed of the situation and learn of their experiences. We stand with our colleagues and support them during this time of upheaval.
CETL’s Letter to union leadership; sent by Emily Schudel on Wednesday, April 5
Re: College’s decision to fire Mary Burgess, Director of Learning Services
The staff in the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) feel compelled to share with the college community what has happened recently with regard to the firing of our Director, Mary Burgess. On March 8, 2023, Learning Services staff were abruptly notified that Mary was no longer at the college. There has been no explanation of the reasoning and process followed, despite our direct request for clarification from the president. This lack of transparency and lack of collegial decision-making is at odds with how we see ourselves as a college community and with the values leadership committed to in the new strategic plan. College leadership needs to do better.
Mary, a global leader in their field and whom we all liked and respected, was making great strides in bringing all of Learning Services together, forging new initiatives in CETL, and building bridges across the college.
The college community has also been affected as we have made the painful decision to cancel Walls Optional, an event in which our director held a crucial role. In addition, the lack of a director will limit CETL’s ability to take on new projects while a replacement is being recruited. However, these short-term consequences of losing Mary, while significant, pale in comparison to the loss of trust in institutional leadership.
We have lost our leader and don’t know why. College leadership has not acknowledged the profound impact that dismissing Mary has had on each of us both personally and professionally, to say nothing of how it has disrupted our work. We ask for your patience and understanding as we strive to continue to offer our services to you, our colleagues, during this period of uncertainty and loss.
Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Co-Authored and Signed by: Bob Preston, Charlotte Sheldrake, Deidre Murphy, Derek Murray, Emily Schudel, Juan Flores, Kerry-Anne Dompierre, Kristina Andrew, Martha McAlister, Mavis Smith, Meghan Campbell, Monique Brewer, Natasha-Faye Parrish, Pat Parker, Patricia Larose, Robin Fast, Sue Doner, Wendy McElroyFaculty & Staff in the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Your Union strives to support members in ways other than resolving disputes with college administration. We negotiate Collective Agreements trying to improve our working conditions. We educate with workshops and infosessions. We try to advise members on the best options for retirement, leaves, and accessing benefits. We promote community and solidarity by enabling you to share your triumphs and passions with each other. We communicate important news and events by email, website, blog, and social media.
Sometimes, when we share things, it is on behalf of just one member, today what we share has affected an entire division. When, Mary Burgess, the Director of Learning Services, was abruptly fired, faculty and staff in Learning Services were shocked and surprised. Some sent the President, Director of HR, and Board of Governors a co-authored letter asking for an explanation of the process, and the rationale for such actions, raising their concerns for the future of their departments (CETL, the Writing Centre, and Library).
After receiving a dismissive response from HR, our CETL colleagues once again expressed their dismay and incredulity over the incident in a follow-up letter to the President dated March 20th, CC’ing the Board of Governors, Education Council, and Faculty Associations, which remains unacknowledged today. In the meantime, the reasons for cancelling Walls Optional communicated through CamNews due to the sudden change in leadership were obscured for being “too pointy,” and no mention of any of this, Mary’s firing, nor the effect it has had on the Learning Services team was acknowledged during the public portion of the April 11th Board of Governor’s meeting.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) defines Collegiality so well: “Collegiality is the full participation of academic staff in the institutional processes that shape the conditions of academic work. This includes but is not limited to participation in all governance structures, institutional systems of peer review, and decision-making processes at all levels. Collegiality is a fundamental condition of academic work.” This is a principle we must all continue to fight for.
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