On consultation with faculty members and librarians

Brock’s experience with COVID over the last eight months has emphasized the importance of collaboration and consultation when making decisions that will have a significant impact on members of the University community. The current context provides an opportunity to reflect upon the Provost Office’s ‘statement of practice’ with respect to consultation, in particular with faculty members and librarians.

Consultation is an opportunity to interact with members of the University community on a particular issue, usually with the intention of gathering feedback on a proposed course of action. The Provost’s Office has a number of communications channels at its disposal to communicate with faculty members, make announcements and publicize opportunities for consultation. These include:

  • The Brock News, which remains the primary channel for all administrative announcements aimed at faculty members, librarians, students and staff;
  • This new memo site and newsletter; and
  • Messages and notices sent to the Deans, with a request to distribute widely within their Faculties.

In the absence of faculty councils, which are a key forum for consultation and collegial decision-making at other Canadian universities, the Provost will typically consult first through representative bodies. For students, this entails conversations with the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). For staff, this entails conversations with staff unions, either directly or through Labour Relations representatives in the Human Resources office. For faculty members and librarians, this entails presentations to Senate, to Senate committees, and/or to faculty unions including the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA) and relevant CUPE units.

For practical reasons as well as reasons related to good governance, the representative nature of these bodies is key to the consultation process. In many cases, when consultation begins the Provost will also offer to visit faculty meetings or other similar fora where faculty members or librarians will be gathered.

Consultation is not necessary, possible or even appropriate in every case. The Provost reserves the right to identify those cases where consultation would be a helpful part of the decision-making process.

In the coming weeks and months, the Provost’s Office will also look forward to launching an online consultation portal, which will become accessible through the Provost’s Office webpage. While admittedly less personal, online consultation can play a critical role in expanding the availability of a consultation, as it can receive feedback 24/7 from students, staff, faculty members and librarians. An announcement will be made in the memo newsletter once the site is launched.

Finally, the Provost’s Office recognizes the responsibility that consultation imposes on the  University administration, including the responsibility to listen and to be responsive to the preponderance of opinions expressed. While we cannot promise that every comment will drive change, we do commit to listening to every voice and to weighing every comment carefully.

Categories: November 2020