I retired from Laurentian University June 30, 2020. So I escaped the challenges, stress and extra work of COVID teaching.
I also evaded the shock of being terminated for no reason other than someone in Toronto liked wielding a red pen through lists of programs and faculty, thereby gutting an institution, eviscerating students and their dreams, and figuratively dropping an asteroid from space that is going to leave a fresh crater in our city.
Thursday afternoon, I was invited to, and participated in, a “wonder.me” video meeting designed to be the last coffee break for members of the School of the Environment.
About half of my former colleagues attended. Some of those unable to attend were desperately working to wind up projects that had to be finished before they were locked out of campus buildings.
I had not seen most of my former colleagues for nearly a year given COVID restrictions. Seeing the pain, stress, and fear in their faces and hearing their stories moved me to tears.
I know how empty I felt moving out of my office and turning in my campus keys when the decision to retire was mine and mine alone. I saw and heard how painful it is for a group of people of whom I loved working with being thrown out of their careers through no fault of their own.
Former university presidents, beginning with Dominic Giroux, his and subsequent senior administrators and, at least, the Executive Committee of various Boards of Governors need to explain why they made and approved the decisions that resulted in the university becoming insolvent.
It is very convenient that the current set of senior administrators is protected, insulated if you will, due to conditions of the CCAA; they cannot lose their jobs during this process.
Even though my terminated colleagues officially become unemployed either April 30 or May 15, I heard stories of how they were still helping students who have been left in the lurch. This is despite that the administration, in general, and Dr. Haché, in particular, have guaranteed to treat students’ needs as the No. 1 priority; it is terminated faculty who are working through their pain, shock, and grief to try to advise and aid the students, not the administration. I’ve heard this from students, as well, who continue to reach out to me.
My heart aches for my former colleagues who have had their careers and lives ripped out from under them. Decades-long friendships have been shattered along the lines of those terminated and those who survived. And most of the terminated are talking about leaving Sudbury.
The people who put the university in this position need to, at the very least, listen to these stories and publicly explain why they put their signatures on plans and capital expenses that left the institution extremely vulnerable.
Were they just fattening up their resumes with no appreciation of possible ramifications? Was Laurentian a mere stepping-stone to bigger pastures? They should be the people moving out of our city!
It will be interesting to see if some of them do move, like rats leaving a rotting ship, except rats are not responsible for the ship rotting.
Retired Associate Professor
School of the Environment