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A look inside Huntington's agreement with Laurentian, which saw federated university bow out of court fight

So far, Huntington isn't speaking on what its plans are now it won’t be offering courses that count toward LU degrees
Huntington_University_sign2Sized
Huntington University. (File)

While two of the federated universities operating on Laurentian University’s campus fought LU’s restructuring plans in court last week, a different approach was taken by Huntington University.

Laurentian has three federated universities: Thorneloe University, the University of Sudbury and Huntington University.

All three of the federated universities offered courses that, until recently, counted toward Laurentian degrees under a federation agreement going back to Laurentian’s creation more than 60 years ago.

But with Laurentian’s insolvency and restructuring, the university said it couldn’t afford to continue transferring about $7 million per year to the federated universities for them to offer these courses, preferring to instead educate students in-house.

Laurentian announced in April it would be terminating the federation agreement, a plan Thorneloe and the University of Sudbury fought unsuccessfully in court last week.

But under the terms of a transition agreement signed with Laurentian April 5, Huntington did not fight the termination of the federation agreement.

Spring term classes at all three federated universities have now been cancelled due to the situation (with the exception of Thorneloe's theology program).

Sudbury.com has reached out to Huntington with a request to speak to its president Kevin McCormick about the transition agreement and the federated university’s future plans, but an interview was not immediately forthcoming.

A spokesperson for Huntington said given Laurentian University’s court-supervised restructuring process under the Companies Creditors’ Arrangement Act (CCAA) has now been extended until Aug. 31, “there may still be an issue of confidentiality for us to adhere to.  

“We are inquiring about this, and will confirm when possible,” said the spokesperson.

However, documents filed with the courts outline the terms of the transition agreement between Huntington and LU.

As part of the agreement, Huntington agreed not to fight the termination of the transition agreement along with its counterparts, Thorneloe and the University of Sudbury.

It also said Huntington “will cease to have the ability or responsibility to deliver academic courses or programs as credit” toward Laurentian degrees.

But interestingly, the agreement also said that if Thorneloe or the University of Sudbury had been successful in court last week, and they were permitted to continue to receive funding from Laurentian to teach courses and programs, Huntington would be as well.

One of the major aspects of the transition agreement between Huntington and Laurentian is the transfer of rights relating to Huntington’s gerontology program. That included any rights to any related course material, curriculum and library material. 

So if Huntington is no longer offering courses toward Laurentian degrees, what does it plan to do? 

While that’s a question that has not been answered in detail by the federated university, the transition agreement said Huntington will continue to maintain its building and related facilities for its own benefit and use on Laurentian’s land.

There is also mention in the agreement of Huntington continuing to offer student residence accommodations as well as parking. Laurentian also agreed to advertise Huntington’s residence for five academic years.

Although this is not specifically mentioned in the transition agreement, Huntington operates a number of other programs and organizations that don’t involve offering courses toward Laurentian degrees.

That includes the Canadian Finnish Institute, the Peruvian Canadian Institute and the Lougheed Teaching and Learning Centre (which fosters teaching best practices).

The agreement also has terms related to Huntington’s pension plan, which would see Laurentian take on Huntington’s obligations in that area.

Laurentian has agreed to assume Huntington’s retiree wind-up liabilities under the Pension Plan, which, as at the actuarial valuation as at January 1, 2020, are in the amount of $599,000, and release Huntington from all such liabilities.

At the same time, the agreement said Huntington would pay $1.2 million into the Pension Plan  in respect of the wind-up deficit for its active and deferred members by no later than June 30, 2021.

Huntington will receive a release from LU for its obligations under the Pension Plan, upon receipt of the $1.2 million payment and the transfer of the Gerontology program.



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