Official Website for OPSEU Local 415

Program Cuts – 22 May 2018 Update

I want to present a profile on Rod Bain, professor in the Heritage Masonry program in Perth. I have known Rod for several years since he began his teaching career at the Perth campus in 2003. Rod is a mason and carpenter by trade and has a diploma in Technological Education from Queen’s University. Additionally, Rod is a union steward has served on two Academic Bargaining Teams, CAAT-A Divisional Executive and is currently a member of the College Employment Stability Committee (CSEC). 

Notwithstanding the claims of senior administration, there has been no remediation related to the program that Rod has been made aware of. The last time PQR was completed was 2015-2016 and Rod was not assigned to participate in that process, even though masonry is his area of expertise. The PQR identified that Program Advisory Committee meetings have not been held regularly in accordance with college policy, although the college did have a meeting on April 26, 2018 with the Ontario Masonry Training Centre, which was conducted when Rod was teaching. 

As we know, Algonquin faces a self-inflicted $25 million-dollar shortfall, having acknowledged it has underpaid its part-time and sessional employees for years. Now that it has been legally forced to follow its core values (chiefly Caring, Respect, and Integrity) with respect to paying its employees equally for equal work, the College has turned its eye inward on the programs it offers students and to find savings. 

You should also be aware that it seems that the College is targeting a program that is unique – having a large restoration component, not offered anywhere else in the province and thus is free of competition from other Colleges for students.  Indeed, just such a program enjoys wide scale support not only from industry leaders and leading industry employers, but from major manufacturers as well. Imagine how beneficial it would be if these partnerships with industry could yield large scale product donations and if such a program was also actively involved in several campus and community beautification projects. 

To further this scenario, imagine if this unique program had a 100% placement rate for its graduating students and was a primary source of hiring entry level employees into this industry. Imagine if this program could consistently perform well above College averages for KPIs in student and employer satisfaction. It would seem that such a program would be a winner, and perhaps a template for other programs.   

Well, think again. Just such a program already exists at the College, or I should say existed at the College: Heritage Masonry at the Perth Campus.  Despite, having all the attributes listed above, the College has announced that it will not be accepting any more students into this program. 

The drawback to offering a unique program is you can’t get students if no one knows about it. The College has never been consistently good at marketing individual programs, and this is a textbook case. Even without any competition, the college has repeatedly failed to fill this program. Despite this, the College has not altered its marketing approach around this program. 

President Cheryl Jensen has stated:

“In all cases, program performance data are provided each year to all academic departments so that faculty, staff, and administrators can work together to collectively develop remediation plans for programs that are underperforming.” 

Yet, there is no evidence that any of this is true in the case of the Heritage Masonry Program, and after repeated requests by the union for this information, the College continues to remain silent. 

It seems the quality of a program or the fact that it meets a very real industry demand, assists in maintaining our countries-built heritage, and produces graduates who are in demand holds no sway for the College. In its actions herein, the College is revealing its one true core value: indifference. 

Rod will be presenting to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Governors on May 28, 2018. I thought it was important to provide some background on some of the faculty whose programs have been impacted by the seven program intake suspensions. 

We will continue to report on our findings from the College Employment Stability Committee. It is clear that we will need to pay continued attention to the various expenditures the college has made over the past few years that resulted in financial loses. 

Pat Kennedy, President

OPSEU Local 415