Three U of C governors told they won’t be reappointed, says minister in charge
The province is seeking greater diversity among post-secondary governing bodies across Alberta by refusing to reappoint governors, says the minister in charge.
Three University of Calgary governors have been told by Alberta Advanced Education their expired terms won’t be renewed and they will have to seek reappointment through a provincial review.
Letters to that effect have been sent to universities and colleges across the province, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt said Friday, in a bid to ensure governing bodies better reflect Alberta’s population.
“Communities in our universities and colleges have changed significantly in the past few years,” he said. “We’ve got an influx of new Canadians, more women attending post-secondary education than ever before and we are going to make sure boards look more like the communities they serve.”
That stance will impact 38 vacancies currently existing on post-secondary boards.
In the legislature on Thursday, Schmidt indicated those boards are dominated by men over 65.
He said the province won’t set any quotas and isn’t targeting board governors for possible loyalties to the former PC government.
The U of C governors targeted in the letter were Firoz Talakshi, Jackson Stephens Allan and Mark Starratt — none of whom either returned calls or agreed to comment Friday.
Schmidt also rejected any notion the refusal to reappoint the trio at the U of C was done as payback over suspicions the university accepted undue influence from sponsor energy pipeline firm Enbridge Inc., a claim an independent review rejected.
Instead, said Schmidt, “we’re opening up the process and making it more transparent.”
He also noted the policy is one promised by the NDP government last year and meant to save $35 million by streamlining agencies, boards and commissions.
While efforts at more governing diversity are laudable, the province’s policy risks losing experi- enced governors, said Alberta Party leader Greg Clark.
“The U of C is large and very complex and if you don’t have people who have the appropriate experience in the boardroom, there’s a big risk the U of C isn’t run well,” he said.
Some of those board members not being reappointed, and with close connections to the business community, are vital in fundraising for universities, said Clark.
“And it could open the boards for NDP partisan appointments ... it’s very worrisome when you have what looks like political interference in the selection process,” he said.
The policy could bring in badly needed new blood, said Sarah Hoenle, president of the U of C Faculty Association.
“I would agree with the minister there needs to be more diversity and a better reflection of the actual community of Calgary,” she said, adding the board is weighted with corporate members. “It’s not a profit organization, it’s an educational and research institution.”
In a statement, U of C spokeswoman Darlene Crowell said they welcomed the government clarifying the appointment process.
“This new process applies to all agencies, boards and commissions across the province, not just the U of C,” she said. “We are fortunate to have a board comprised of committed volunteers who are dedicated to this university and the advancement of higher education.”
If you don’t have people who have the appropriate experience in the boardroom, there’s a big risk the U of C isn’t run well.