Trades faculty vote no confidence in dean

TRUFA President Tom Friedman (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

TRUFA President Tom Friedman (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

TRU trades faculty have issued a vote of non-confidence in their dean, Lindsay Langill. All 30 full-time trades faculty could voice their opinion in the October vote, and of the 24 ballots cast, 20 were votes of non-confidence.

“A vote of non-confidence in an academic leader, especially a dean, is a serious issue,” said TRU Faculty Association president Tom Friedman. “Faculty have indicated to me that many of them don’t trust the dean and believe he has failed to act in an academic way.”

Although trades faculty refused to comment on the issue, citing it as a private, internal matter, Friedman said some of the specific problems listed in meetings with trades faculty include a lack of consultation, a lack of accountability and unilateral decision-making without adequate support from faculty.

TRUFA originally got involved when trades faculty started coming to the union early this summer to discuss what Friedman called, “a lot of serious problems within the school of Trades and Technology.”

Trades faculty asked TRUFA to get involved specifically to conduct the vote. This was done to make sure the polling would be anonymous and conducted externally. They also wanted to make sure that part-time trades faculty wouldn’t be eligible to vote, believing that they have not had enough experience with the dean to make legitimate decisions. This was also done to protect their vulnerability within the institution, as they don’t have the job security that full-time faculty have.

As it stands, any further action would be conducted by TRU’s senior administration. However, the process has been an arduous one, according to Friedman. Right after the vote, TRU President Alan Shaver said he would immediately have the Provost, Christine Bovis-Cnossen, look into the matter.

“It took almost three weeks, but the Provost and vice-president academic eventually agreed to meet with trades faculty and us in late October,” Friedman said. “Despite the delay, when I sat in on the meeting, Provost Christine was very attentive and the meeting had a fairly positive outcome. I have confidence they are taking this seriously.”

Bovis-Cnossen is currently investigating the issue, and as such, all remaining action is out of the hands of the faculty association.

Senior administration’s vice-president advancement, Christopher Seguin, refused to comment on the issue due to administration’s belief that this is a personnel matter.

Tom Friedman however, thinks differently of the situation. “Their position is that this is a personnel issue. But this has to do with bigger issues, such as accountability and governance. This is about how the university operates,” he said.

“The faculty and dean would obviously like this resolved as soon as possible, because it really isn’t good for the university to have this uncertainty hanging over us,” Friedman said. “I’m hoping it will be thoroughly investigated and we can come to a resolution we can all live with.”

This isn’t the first time a vote of non-confidence has been issued within the department of Trades and Technology, either. Twenty years ago, TRU (then University College of the Cariboo) was embroiled in a similar situation, where a vote of non-confidence was also issued in the department’s dean. Similar issues were cited back then as well, such as a lack of accountability and consultation. That dean later left the institution and was replaced.

Though the situations are similar, Friedman isn’t willing to speculate on what will happen this time.

Current dean of trades Lindsay Langill could not be reached for comment for this story.