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Laurentian ‘interim interim’ pres takes questions, criticism

Tammy Eger presides over 1st senate meeting as university’s temporary head, told she shouldn’t be too positive amid ‘trauma’ for many at Laurentian
Dr. Tammy Eger, Laurentian’s vice-president of research, was named LU’s interim president after the recent departure of former president Robert Haché.

During her first Laurentian University senate meeting as the university’s temporary head, Tammy Eger fielded some questions and even criticism from faculty members.

Eger, Laurentian’s vice-president of research, was named LU’s interim president after the recent departure of former president Robert Haché.

The university has been undergoing court-supervised restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (or CCAA) since declaring insolvency in early 2021.

After reaching a debt plan — known as a plan of arrangement — with its creditors earlier this fall, it’s expected the university will finally exit insolvency by the end of this month. Eger reiterated the Nov. 30 CCAA exit target during her remarks at the Nov. 15 senate meeting.

Laurentian board chair Jeff Bangs quipped during remarks made to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce last week that Eger is actually the university’s “interim interim president.”

That’s because she’s filling the role until a longer-term interim president is announced in the near future. It’s hoped that a new permanent Laurentian president will be in place in 2024.

Eger said in her written report to Laurentian’s senate that although her tenure as interim president is expected to be brief, “it is a privilege to serve in this capacity until a successor is named.”

Highlighting recent events such as the university’s open house and convocation, as well as pointing out those who have won awards or done other interesting work, Eger said Laurentian’s future success will depend on the people connected with it. 

“They all have such a critical role to play in the success of Laurentian and really in the rebuilding of Laurentian,” she said.

“I think when you look at the report, you can see that we have incredible people at Laurentian that are still working and really going and doing that extra work right now. Because it's their passion, because they care about the students, they care about the success of the university.”

Senate member Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde said he appreciates the positive perspective that Eger brought forward in her report, but he issued a reminder.

“I have a bit of a reputation of being somewhat angry about what has happened to the university,” said Schulte-Hostedde, a professor in Laurentian’s School of Natural Sciences.

“I think the emphasis on people and relationships, I mean, it's a really difficult expression to accept, given what the university has done to so many of us and those who are not here and cannot be here.”

He pointed to the “kudos” section in Eger’s written report, in which she speaks of how Jean-Charles Cachon, Laurentian professor emeritus in the Faculty of Management, was recently awarded the insignia of Knight in the Order of Academic Palms by Tudor Alexis, Consul General of France in Toronto. 

Cachon was one of the professors who lost his job in 2021 due to Laurentian’s insolvency restructuring, which is the reason he’s now a professor emeritus.

“I would ask that the university at large be a bit more mindful, and even at least address the fact that there are so many issues that we still are dealing with, the people are still struggling with trauma about what happened,” Schulte-Hostedde said.

“Having these kinds of documents out there that are so positive, without that acknowledgement, I think is very difficult. 

“It's very difficult to move forward when the administration, you know, doesn't acknowledge the amount of pain that was instituted on the people who are here and the people who have lost their jobs. A lot of us carry that still.”

Eger pointed out that Cachon had reached out to Laurentian about his recent award, and that she hears from colleagues who want to talk about successes, “and not feel guilt for doing that.” 

At the same time, she said she is “respectful and mindful” of the trauma and healing that needs to be done Laurentian. 

“So we do need to find a balance,” Eger said. “Perhaps that’s part of the discussions we’re going to have as we emerge from the CCAA and start to talk about where there may be some new opportunities for Laurentian.”

Senate member Shannon Bassett, who is a faculty member with the McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University, asked Eger to elaborate on the development of LU’s new strategic plan as it exits the CCAA, and how faculty can be involved.

Laurentian’s current strategic plan is for the years 2018-23. History professor Linda Ambrose, who led consultations for that strategic plan, blasted Laurentian’s leadership in 2021 for abandoning it as a result of the CCAA.

Eger explained that as one of the terms of Laurentian’s plan of arrangement, it must engage a third-party consultant to help with its strategic plan. “We then have 120 days post plan (of arrangement) implementation to retain that third-party consultant,” she said.

Leadership of the unions representing Laurentian employees will be involved in drafting an RFP for retaining the consultant, and again in setting the scope of their work.

Eger encouraged senate members to keep a list of their ideas for Laurentian’s new strategic plan, “and then be ready to fully engage.”

She said one thing that will be critical in having these conversations is “ensuring that we also have the budget to support the initiatives.” 

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.


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