By Kenny Yum
A report card on Claude Lajeunesse:
Claude is a good president, one who has done a lot for this school. During play time, he applies himself well to the tasks at hand. Although he has been here for four years, he has made an impact on his peers and those who matter in his play circles.
The Presidential Advisory Review Committee recommended this week that Claude be appointed for another five-year term.
Fifty-seven letters from faculty, students and staff were examined, 25 interviews were conducted with politicians, university presidents and corporate interests. And, we’re sure, many debates were raged before the committee came up with its recommendation.
By all accounts, the response from the committee is laudatory to our headmaster. He’s managed to bring down our capital debt and tried to manage a budget in an era of education cuts. He’s managed to raise Ryerson’s profile, garnering us an unprecedented amount of media coverage. He’s helped our institution make the transition to a full-fledged university, encouraging more degree more research and, in the end, a climate that makes for a better post-secondary institution.
For his efforts, he must be praised. But — and you knew this was coming — nobody is perfect.
However, Claude seems distant to those who work for him, particularly the teachers, who say there is low morale in the school. We can’t pinpoint where everything went wrong, but we’re sure he’ll strive to make an improvement.
Welcome back, Claude. We’ll take you with all your imperfections.
But since your mandate suggests you should be accountable, let’s look at what the committee thinks you still have to work on.
One issue is our faculty, and of it, the committee report reads: “of those faculty who provided written input, a far larger number expressed concerns about the President. In particular they feel that he does not appreciate the pervasiveness and depth of the morale problems. We cannot overemphasize how seriously the Review Committee took these submissions.”
The committee believes that faculty morale is the President’s responsibility. The stalled RFA contract talks probably contributed to this low showing. The Committee says teaching staff are the “heard and soul of any university” and that one of Claude’s main priorities is to address issues of morale.
Why is faculty morale so low? Could it be pay? Lack of investment in teaching staff? Faculty/administration relations is an issue that is never aired in a public forum, but worth a look.
The committee has asked Claude to pay attention to student needs, staff relations, fundraising, external relations and financial management.
Conspicuously listed on the bottom of this list is communication — skills that Claude will probably have to hone if he’s to be recognized as a man who cares about this school — and his staff.
We have a lot of confidence in Claude’s ability. We think if he continues to work hard, he’ll achieve what we think he’s capable of. In the end, we think the school will also benefit
Welcome back, President. We’re expecting big things from you.