The President’s Story

The President’s Changing Story

Grievances were filed by the faculty association regarding some of these events. Two of the grievances were against the President. The President recommended the rejection of the grievances. [One might see a hint of conflict of interest here]. In a letter to the faculty association on May 2, 2006, the President stated categorically that Dr. Tom Robinson “at all material times was acting as a member of the Board of Governors during his dealing with Mr. Terry Royer, Chair of the Board and with me.” He further stated that “Dr Robinson corresponded with me and met with Mr. Royer and me in his capacity as a member of the Board of Governors.” The President used this as his basis for arguing that the faculty association could not file grievances in these matters.

Yet the President had an entirely different view of the matter prior to the filing of grievances. When the President first brought the matter to the attention of the Board Chair (in an email on February 22, 2006), the President stated: “Tom has brought the matter to my attention in his role as a faculty member, but he is also a Board member and, I believe, this requires that I keep you informed.”

There are, here, two different stories about the same matter, both from the President. One story is that, in my dealings with the President in regard to the matter under discussion here, I was acting as a faculty member. The other story is that I was acting as a Board member.

My Questions about the President’s Story/Stories

The President admitted that I came to him as a faculty member. It was over five months later that the President claimed that I was “at all material times” acting as a Board member. In that the President did not inform me that he was not viewing me as a faculty member although he knew I was coming to him as a faculty member, I must conclude that the President either acted to mislead me at the point of our first meeting and in our subsequent dealings or that he acted to mislead others when he later changed his story and made an issue of my Board status.

Further, the President did not even mention in passing the issue of my Board status until two months after our first meeting. Why did the President wait so long to fulfill his duty to inform the Board—a duty he claims to have in his email to the Board Chair on February 22, 2006, where he states: “ Tom has brought the matter to my attention in his role as a faculty member, but he is also a Board member and, I believe, this requires that I keep you informed.” Is it a mere coincidence that the President first brought my name to the Board’s attention only after I criticized the report that the President had commissioned (in my letter to him on February 11, 2006)—and not when I first came to him some two month earlier? If the President had a duty to report my contact with him to the Chair, he delayed that reporting by two months.

Even then the President saw my action as that of a faculty member and he treated the case and my involvement in it as a faculty matter, not a Board matter. For one thing, he had a non-Board member investigate the matter and he had the report circulated to non-Board members. Indeed, no Board member was made aware of either the investigation or the report until after I had pointed out the inadequacies in the report. The President states, in an email of February 28, 2006, mailed to an number of people who by that time were involved: “I have not asked the Board to intervene or to evaluate any of the correspondence and I do not intend to.”

Clearly, the President did not see the matter as a Board matter and he did not see my participation in the matter as problematic. Indeed, the President repeatedly thanked and commended me for bringing the matter to his attention and for my interest in the matter (see emails). Strangely, the Board Chair and Vice-Chair condemned me for doing precisely what the President commended me for doing (in meetings on March 23, 2006). I maintain that I was acting properly, and the President knew it and had no problems with my involvement. It is only later that the President and Board leadership attempted to discredit me by raising the issue of my Board status.

And another interesting coincidence. The President stated that “at all material times” I was acting as a Board member and that I had corresponded with him in my capacity as a Board member. These claims were first made in a letter from the President on May 2, 2006. Curiously, on April 19, 2006, three grievances had been filed by the faculty association on my behalf. Two of the grievances were against the President. Was there no connection in the President’s claim about my Board status and the receipt of the grievances? Or shall we believe that the President really had these concerns in December 2005 but did not get around to expressing them until five months later, days after grievances were filed against him?

I believe that it is more reasonable to conclude that the President viewed me as a faculty member on our first meeting and initially saw the matter in that context. The President changed his view of the matter only when grievances were filed against him and he saw a certain convenience in treating me as a Board member. I can only conclude that the President did not have difficulty with my involvement; he had difficulty only with my disagreeing with him. Thus the university’s policy seems to be that faculty members who are Board members may speak on issues and may approach the President. The only restriction is that they may never disagree with the President.

And is it too much to ask to have just one story, or should students, faculty and staff at the University of Lethbridge expect changing stories, revised by the administration for its own benefit? The old adage that “there are two sides to every story” didn’t factor in the situation where one of the parties had more than one contribution to make. We really don’t want our motto at the University of Lethbridge to become: “There’s three sides to every story—two of them from the administration.”

— Tom Robinson

The University of Lethbridge


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