Reports recommend major changes for Laurentian University

The operational and governance reviews from Nous Group make a series of suggestions to the Sudbury, Ont.-based university. Facebook

A pair of independent reports recommend Laurentian University make significant changes to its governance and strategic plan after finding the insolvent school lacks accountability.

The operational and governance reviews from Nous Group make a series of suggestions to the Sudbury, Ont.-based university, including cutting the size of its board by removing members “that do not have the required skills” and introducing a formal process to evaluate the board’s performance.

The group also recommends the school amends its “bicameral” structure – in which there is both a board of directors and a senate – to improve communication between the two bodies and clarify their roles.

The group says the Laurentian Act must change to “reassert” the board’s authority over finances and the senate’s authority over academic matters.

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It also calls the current strategic plan “insufficient,” saying it doesn’t reflect the school’s “current realities and recent changes.”

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The university filed for creditor protection and declared itself insolvent just over a year ago, but Nous Group says issues with the strategic plan go back farther than that.

“This has also been an issue with previous strategic plans,” its operational review reads. “If success is not specific, measurable, or realistic, it cannot genuinely be achieved. There is minimal accountability for the plan outcomes.”

The review also found a “capability gap” in many parts of the university, including in IT and finance.

The operational review notes that in the finance department, “a single person knows each role.”

“There is an inability to solve issues when someone leaves or implements a process incorrectly,” it reads. “For example, when a payroll clerk left for vacation, institutional knowledge was lost and people couldn’t get paid.”

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The group recommends the school embark on a three-year “transformation process,” which it says will cost between $26 million and $32.5 million.

Officials with the school say they welcome the recommendations.

“While there will be challenges as Laurentian executes this ambitious and long-term transformation, the university is focused on whatever needs to be done to make Laurentian the best environment it can be for its students,” Chief Redevelopment Officer Lou Pagnutti said in a written statement issued Wednesday.

“The report serves as a roadmap to success – and the university is dedicated to renewing Laurentian as the proud institution our community deserves.”

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