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CAUT critical of planned merger of Brescia and Western

(Ottawa – October 3, 2023) The association representing Canada’s professors and academic professionals is criticizing a controversial plan to merge Brescia University College with Western University.

In a letter issued to the presidents of Brescia and Western, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) said it is unacceptable that a merger agreement that shifts programs and reassigns staff was negotiated without the faculty associations.

“This violates fundamental principles of transparency, openness, and the duty to consult in labour relations,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson.

Robinson added that the agreement also runs contrary to governance principles in universities where, as specified in Western’s own legislation, decisions affecting academic programs must be made by academic staff through the Senate.

“The proposed integration of Brescia into Western implicates matters that must be within the purview of the Senate,” stated Robinson.

Robinson said that the Senate and the faculty associations should have been involved in any consideration of a merger from the start. The academic community could assess the merits and, if in agreement, decide how a merger could be properly managed from an educational perspective and consistent with obligations under collective agreements. 

As the failure of the Brescia and Western administrations to respect shared governance and collective agreements raises serious concerns that touch on fundamental rights within the university, Robinson added that CAUT is exploring a range of actions that may be pursued.

The planned merger was announced on September 21 and would see Brescia cease operations by May of next year.

CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and professional staff at over 125 universities and colleges across the country.