Laurentian University has revealed the names of the board members who have stepped down as part of the terms of a financial package from the Ontario government.
The university, which has been undergoing insolvency restructuring under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) since last winter, released the following written statement to the media Friday afternoon:
"Laurentian wishes to acknowledge and thank its outgoing board members for their volunteer service and dedication during an especially challenging time: Claude Lacroix (Chair), Sonia Del Missier (Vice-Chair), Fabiola Garcia, Peter Faggioni, Kathy Dokis, Stuart Harshaw, Natalie Turvey, Karen Restoule, Nelson Toulouse, Martin Gran, and Dr. Jennifer Jocko.
“The university appreciates their leadership and continued commitment to the values and mission of Laurentian, and wishes them all the best in their future endeavours."
The Laurentian board of governors’ website has been updated, showing the remaining board members.
Of the voting members remain only Martin Bayer, Maxim Jean-Louis, Guy Labine, Cathy Modesto, Brian Montgomery, Peter Xavier, Eric Chappell (the SGA, or Laurentian Students’ General Association rep), Camille Duhaime (the AEF, or Association des étudiantes et étudiants francophones à l’Université Laurentienne rep), and Laurentian president Robert Haché.
On Thursday, Laurentian announced it was receiving the financial package, which included $35 million to refinance the existing DIP (debtor-in-possession) financing made available within the CCAA proceeding.
The province also expressed an intention to replace the DIP Facility with a long-term loan upon Laurentian’s emergence from the CCAA process with a successful Plan of Arrangement, on terms to be agreed.
Other terms include up to $6 million in COVID-19 funding for the university, and enrolment corridor and performance protection of up to a combined amount of $22 million over a number of years.
In the same press release, Laurentian said a total of 11 members of its board of governors resigned Wednesday in connection with the financial support package provided by the province.
The province is appointing five individuals to fill its LGIC nominee spots on the Board of Governors in accordance with the Laurentian University of Sudbury Act. The term "Lieutenant Governor in Council" refers to the “Lieutenant Governor acting on and with the advice of the Executive Council or Cabinet.”
A Laurentian board of governors meeting was supposed to be held today (Friday), but was abruptly cancelled Thursday, after news of the provincial government package was released.
It’s interesting to note that a condition of LU’s DIP funding had prohibited major changes to Laurentian’s leadership. That condition, included in court documents this past spring, is as follows:
“No material changes to LU’s governance or senior leadership shall occur that, in the DIP Lender’s sole discretion, creates a situation of increased instability during the term of the DIP Facility.”
A statement on the matter was also issued by Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop Thursday.
Dunlop said that while Laurentian University has made progress in restructuring under the CCAA process, there is still considerable progress to be made to ensure its long-term sustainability.
“That is why, in response to this unprecedented situation, the government is taking measures to provide cost savings and greater financial relief to Laurentian University by stepping in to replace the current Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) lender,” said Dunlop.
“Further financial support is being provided through a $6 million grant for COVID-19-related costs and the suspension of recoveries and reductions, including those linked to enrolment targets.
“This support will be subject to conditions that ensure Laurentian’s board governance strategy guarantees a strong, financially stable future for the university, and more importantly, its students. It also requires that Laurentian provide enhanced, regular financial reporting.”
Dunlop said that when Laurentian declared insolvency at the beginning of 2021, the province took quick action to appoint a Special Advisor, Dr. Alan Harrison, to provide advice and recommendations regarding the financial situation at Laurentian and to also offer a perspective on governance.
She said the province has now extended the Special Advisor position to continue to provide recommendations to government while Laurentian University continues under the CCAA process.
“Laurentian University students remain the government's priority and we are focused on ensuring that students get the support they need without experiencing any setbacks because of Laurentian’s financial situation,” Dunlop said.
“The government will continue to explore options that provide greater oversight of university finances while protecting the interest of students and Ontario taxpayers.”