posted on May 3: Highlights from Board of Governors meeting


The Board of Governors met April 26 and discussed the following items:

President's report

  • President Peter George said he has “guarded optimism” the provincial government will solve the dilemma of providing universities with adequate operating funds when revenues are decreasing. There are no signs yet as to what the federal government plans are for university funding although the University is hopeful Ottawa will address the indirect costs of research.
  • George said he was delighted the University and the McMaster University Staff Association agreed to voluntary arbitration to solve the recent labour dispute. “The overriding concern that I have and that we not lose sight of is that this is not just about a disagreement between the University and the union, it is also about people,” he said. “The cost and pain of this is significant. There is no doubt that tensions exist. An early resolution can only help us.”
  • George said he wanted advice from the University community on how to establish a “better code of civil and courteous debate” and expect a higher standard for discussion. He noted some members of the University's bargaining team were subjected to “extremely unfortunate, distasteful personalization of the issues” during the strike. He said, under pressure, some people “denigrated into blaming, fingerpointing and discourteous behaviour that has no place at a university.'' He added, “There are bridges to be rebuilt. I am committed to making this happen.”
  • The McMaster University Faculty Association (MUFA) provided a letter to the Board asking that the University consider not using the services of “strike circumvention companies such as Accu-Fax in the future.” Mark Haley, assistant vice-president human resources, said the Hamilton-Wentworth regional police advised the University to use a security services and surveillance during the strike. MUFA president Bernadette Lynn, responding to a Board member's question, said the association is opposed to the University using firms that bill themselves as “strike breaking organizations.”
  • Debbie Nifakis, a non-teaching staff representative, told Board members she was asked to convey some staff's concerns about the University's actions during the McMaster University Staff Association strike. “They have felt very disillusioned and dissatisfied,” she said, adding she had met with President George earlier in the week and returned gifts from about 30 people that had been given to them by the University over the years.

Risk Management Services report

Department director Ron Angus reported there is an air quality study going on in the Arthur Bourns Building (ABB). Environmental monitoring results for ABB were reviewed, confirming there are no unusual levels of biological contamination in the air handling system. The results also confirmed there is no asbestos in the samples. Angus said work responding to the air quality study in the John Hodgins Engineering building continues. New filtration equipment, humidification equipment and steam supply coils are ordered.

Angus said the Ministry of Labour visited campus in March in response to anonymous complaints about ergonomic conditions at a food serving station and ventilation in the kitchen and washrooms in the Commons food service areas. He said ministry officials did not issue any orders and concluded the issues should be dealt with by the University's Joint Health and Safety Committee and Risk Management Services (RMS). The ventilation systems were inspected and were functioning as designed and not obstructed. RMS is studying the ergonomic issue.

Changing Tomorrow Today campaign report

University Advancement executive director Roger Trull said the campaign has raised just under $112 million to date, adding “We're quite pleased.” He said about $84.5 million of the total has been received in cash which is a much larger percentage than was expected. The campaign officially ends June 30.