'A very egregious problem'

Everton McLean
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Education/politics MUN board of regents chairman angered by leaked report

In a hastily called news conference Friday, a visibly upset Bob Simmonds said information leaked to The Telegram by the head of Memorial University's faculty association (MUNFA) has damaged the relationship the board of regents was trying to build with the provincial government.

Simmonds, who is chairman of the board, called in members of the media so he could respond to comments made by MUNFA president Ross Klein about a confidential report on autonomy at MUN.

Memorial University board of regents chairman Bob Simmonds speaks at a news conference Friday. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

In a hastily called news conference Friday, a visibly upset Bob Simmonds said information leaked to The Telegram by the head of Memorial University's faculty association (MUNFA) has damaged the relationship the board of regents was trying to build with the provincial government.

Simmonds, who is chairman of the board, called in members of the media so he could respond to comments made by MUNFA president Ross Klein about a confidential report on autonomy at MUN.

The report, prepared by an ad hoc committee comprised of university senate and board of regents representatives, was called for by the senate to address the issue of government interference with the selection of Memorial's new president after it was revealed Education Minister Joan Burke rejected two candidates for the position last year.

In the article in Friday's Telegram, Klein said he had a leaked copy of the report.

He said it recommends legislation be changed so that the board is solely responsible for selecting a new president.

As well, he said the report calls for the board to choose its own chair instead of having the province appoint someone to the position.

Simmonds said the release of the information was a breach of confidentiality.

"I felt I had no alternative but to address what I believe, and in fact I'm sure my board of regents will agree, is a very egregious problem," Simmonds said.

He said the leaked information undermines him as chairman, as he had promised both Premier Danny Williams and Burke the report would not be released until March 10, after the government had reviewed it.

"I gave my word that this would be respected. I gave the minister and the premier of the province my word. I open the paper a day later and find that half of the report, two of the major resolutions, or proposals, are released to the press," he said.

He said the leak has hurt his attempts to build a good relationship between government and the university as the presidential search committee starts to again look for a new MUN president.

"It certainly brings into question my credibility when I say to the other side things won't happen or will happen," he said.

Simmonds said he spoke to Williams on the issue.

"He was upset. He said 'I trusted you and what's in the paper?' That's not a proof of trust. That's a violation of trust."

In a statement released late Friday, Elizabeth Matthews, director of communications for the premier's office, said the premier was disappointed but willing to put the incident behind him.

"The university gave commitments to government that the ad hoc report would remain confidential until government had the opportunity to review it and provide feedback.

"We strive to have a positive working relationship with the board and the premier simply expressed his disappointment to Mr. Simmonds that the president of the faculty association released details of the confidential report as it was inappropriate and not conducive to promoting positive relationships," she said in an e-mail.

"Despite this unfortunate incident with (Klein) government will continue to move forward in a positive manner with the university as we complete this process."

Meanwhile, Klein said he was sorry for any damage done to the relationship between government and the board, but he said he still believes it's important for the information to be available to the public.

"I can understand where (Simmonds is) coming from ... But at the same time, in the spirit of transparency, I think these things are sometimes worth having out there for discussion," he said.

"I don't regret that the public has the information."

He said he received a copy of the report under his door from an anonymous person, and therefore wasn't aware of a confidentiality directive from Simmonds.

"He can't hold me to something I wasn't aware of."

Meanwhile, Simmonds said he hopes the full, unmodified report can be released to the public by March 10.

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: MUNFA, MUN board

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Recent comments

  • tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    we were told the premier or his government would not be involved in selection of a new president for MUN and now the premier must have the report screened before it goes public.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Gloria, what does Minister Wiseman, Minister of Health, have to do with the report from MUN?

  • Gloria
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    If not for Mr Klein perhaps we would not have known this either. Interesting that Simmonds says he hopes the full unmodified repert can be released by March 10. Just waite untill Williams and Wiseman get their hands on it and come up with their spin. Minister Wiseman has at least come out of hideing again and is supposed to talk on Monday at 12:30 pm. I bett Danny is coaching him as we speak. The joke continues.

  • bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    everyone knows who caused this problem at mun come on all hands up for guess who williams and bob simmonds we all know is one of dannys right hand men behind the scenes

  • Observer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    It should be noted that approximately 75 copies of the report in question have been distributed, one to each member of Memorial's Senate. The Government may respond to the report, but they are not in a position to change it.

  • johnny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    I'm so tired of the behaviour of academics and government it isn't funny. Their just different sides of the same coin.

  • cynic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Well, Bob and Danny have now diverted attention completely away from the content of the report. Reason?

  • mercedes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    See? yesterdays' report said there would be no government invovement! Now we find out that the premier and Burke have about fifteen days to compose the thing and pass it off as Mr. Simmonds' work! Why would this surprise anybody? Forget it all and let the university fall to peices. We will soon lose our accreditation anyway when people realize that MUN is being run by a parole officer. and we'll lose both staff and students.

  • Ken
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Sadly enough this is what happens when you are not up front and open in all of the dealings around this issue. Some times we never learn a thing... even though we are well educated ourselves. Time to move on.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    It's all a matter of control, and this has been very obvious since Nefoundlanders took away the democratic right of having a strong opposition in gouvernment. This is why minister Burke wants to pick her ripe apple from the barrel and place her rubber stamp of control on this matter.

    The gouvernment shoild keep their nose out of the affairs of MUN. We do have some brilliant board members who can select a good replacement for those who move onto greener grass roots, at other well known universities. everyone across Canada knows what is happening at MUN, and agree with Bob Simmonds who has worked so hard to settle this matter, for once and for all.

    Once again, Premier Williams needs to let those educated board members at MUN make decisions which he seems to have difficulty with, including Minister Burke.

    When we look at this ongoing problem, it's like looking through a frosted window, so hard to see everything. As the song goes we can see clearly now. when Burke is gone.

    Good going Bob Simmonds.

    Frank Blackwood

  • Late Term Paper
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Who is this MUN prof? I wish I had him when I was in MUN. Sounds like a dog ate my homework story. Someone slipped a report under my door so I gave it to the media. No one told me I couldn't! Mr. Simmons did not say the report would not be released but asked it it could be confidential until March 10. This is not about secrecy but respect for a process. I'm sure Debbie Forward would be mad if someone leaked the results of her strike vote before she was ready. It as well would not be about secrecy but respect for a process. This MUN prof can't be trusted. Looks like a lot of people involved in the MUN president search can't be trusted and they aren't all politicians. How are we going to get anyone sensible to apply if people on all sides can't keep their traps shut? The hiring process must have some degree of personal confidentiality.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    How much of the report will be blacked out this time?

  • cynic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Ches, b'y,
    Eddy had two degrees from MU with a Newf wife and at least one kid - Not enough, I guess. You'd rather a newf puppet....

  • what
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Public opinion was that only MUN should do the search under their criteria. However government wanted the major input so they could make policy........Bob got upstaged and the obvious was disclosed. Perhaps he should accept the pre-release of this document and take a back seat. Apparently there are those who don't want his misguided interference either....

  • Bar Association
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Avalon Observer fm NL.... Lol, I love it ..

  • james
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    and you people complain about harper williams is his clone

  • Danny's World
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    The sooner you all realize that there is nothing in the Province that Danny does not control the better you will be. This warlord has the province in his grip of death and will sink it eventually. While i agree we need someone to fight for what is right for us, there has to be a balance. all fight and no talk is dangerous. I am sure that a negetative comment about the all mighty Danny will soon be stricken from the record as he probably controls the press as well!!

  • Avalon Observer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    An inept politician named Burke
    With a boss who behaves like a jerk
    Rejected each pick
    And gave them the flick
    Way to go, Joan, keep up the good work.

  • Beverly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Isnt the full unmodified report the report Government now has in its possession? How full and unmodified will the report be by March 10? Will Joan Burke still be Minister without much Education on that date?

  • Ches
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    As long as it's Newfoundlanders running the show and gets to be Pres then I'm ok but enough of the mainlander elite running this province! If ya don't like it b'y get back to stinky Owwntareeoh

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    This stinks of nobody having to provide any accountability yet it's still governments' fault. Making a silly statement like -He can't hold me to anything I wasn't aware of- translates to me as -I didn't know, so I shouldn't be penalized-. Is ignorance truly a good excuse in this circumstance? Is -I'm Sorry- supposed to make it all ok?

    It's a confidentiality issue, it's a professional issue, it's an issue of trust, and it's an issue reflective of the pride of all parties involved. Bob Simmonds has impressed me with his approach, and I feel his approach has all the above qualities in abundance.

    I'd like to know who slipped it under his door and their motives.

  • Barry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Simmonds was hand picked by Williams to make it look like something was being done. Now all of a sudden Simmonds is the tough guy standing up to Williams and Burke. If your doing all this Mr Simmonds tell us your not doing it for the big bucks involved. Now go call Danny and see what you should be doing next Bob.

  • Eddy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Danny and Joanie made this mess.

  • H
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    It never ceases to amaze me that we have such silly people making important decisions for such a large university. If the selection committee had any sense at all they would have snatched up Eddie Campbell before another university did. The last president MUN had (Meisen) always came across as arrogant, and I've never heard of a single student who liked him. He wasn't personable, and he liked to mask problems. This was evident in not only the case of a prof publishing data that he made up himself, but also when a female prof (complained of) being harassed by a student and he failed to take any real action to help her. Dr Campbell is so personable and helpful, and he doesn't act like we are little minions who are beneath him. Now the bottom line is that we have mere months to pick a new president, and we can't even decide on a sensible process for searching/hiring.

    If we keep going on with all these shenanigans, MUN will end up with a really bad name. Plenty of people leave this province as it is to pursue educational ventures, it's not like MUN is our only option.

  • cynic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I thought Simmonds said the selection process was going to be open this time.... maybe he meant controlled by Danny Williams instead? Yeah, I guess they are both right. There is a trust issue here. So glad Danny is willing to put it all behind him. Very mature. That and the stacked deck.
    What's going to happen if one of his relatives or grandkids or whatever fails a course or is accused of cheating? They can do whatever they want, can't they? Because Danny, Joan, and Bob will put in the fix and then claim - their trust was violated! So sad.

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I,m very suprised that Mr. Blackwood is so close to his homeland and aware of all the corruption that takes place in Newfoundland and labrador. I read his article on compassion in the health care. He was right on target. I'm not suprised that the Conseratives are doing such a bad job, we hear about it here in Ontario..The cancer scandal has gone worldwide.

    There needs to be a good quality control as to who is responsible for what on the Williams team.

    Mary

  • Shannon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I have one word: karma.

  • tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    we were told the premier or his government would not be involved in selection of a new president for MUN and now the premier must have the report screened before it goes public.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Gloria, what does Minister Wiseman, Minister of Health, have to do with the report from MUN?

  • Gloria
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    If not for Mr Klein perhaps we would not have known this either. Interesting that Simmonds says he hopes the full unmodified repert can be released by March 10. Just waite untill Williams and Wiseman get their hands on it and come up with their spin. Minister Wiseman has at least come out of hideing again and is supposed to talk on Monday at 12:30 pm. I bett Danny is coaching him as we speak. The joke continues.

  • Observer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    It should be noted that approximately 75 copies of the report in question have been distributed, one to each member of Memorial's Senate. The Government may respond to the report, but they are not in a position to change it.

  • bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    everyone knows who caused this problem at mun come on all hands up for guess who williams and bob simmonds we all know is one of dannys right hand men behind the scenes

  • johnny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    I'm so tired of the behaviour of academics and government it isn't funny. Their just different sides of the same coin.

  • cynic
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Well, Bob and Danny have now diverted attention completely away from the content of the report. Reason?

  • mercedes
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    See? yesterdays' report said there would be no government invovement! Now we find out that the premier and Burke have about fifteen days to compose the thing and pass it off as Mr. Simmonds' work! Why would this surprise anybody? Forget it all and let the university fall to peices. We will soon lose our accreditation anyway when people realize that MUN is being run by a parole officer. and we'll lose both staff and students.

  • Ken
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Sadly enough this is what happens when you are not up front and open in all of the dealings around this issue. Some times we never learn a thing... even though we are well educated ourselves. Time to move on.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    It's all a matter of control, and this has been very obvious since Nefoundlanders took away the democratic right of having a strong opposition in gouvernment. This is why minister Burke wants to pick her ripe apple from the barrel and place her rubber stamp of control on this matter.

    The gouvernment shoild keep their nose out of the affairs of MUN. We do have some brilliant board members who can select a good replacement for those who move onto greener grass roots, at other well known universities. everyone across Canada knows what is happening at MUN, and agree with Bob Simmonds who has worked so hard to settle this matter, for once and for all.

    Once again, Premier Williams needs to let those educated board members at MUN make decisions which he seems to have difficulty with, including Minister Burke.

    When we look at this ongoing problem, it's like looking through a frosted window, so hard to see everything. As the song goes we can see clearly now. when Burke is gone.

    Good going Bob Simmonds.

    Frank Blackwood

  • Late Term Paper
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Who is this MUN prof? I wish I had him when I was in MUN. Sounds like a dog ate my homework story. Someone slipped a report under my door so I gave it to the media. No one told me I couldn't! Mr. Simmons did not say the report would not be released but asked it it could be confidential until March 10. This is not about secrecy but respect for a process. I'm sure Debbie Forward would be mad if someone leaked the results of her strike vote before she was ready. It as well would not be about secrecy but respect for a process. This MUN prof can't be trusted. Looks like a lot of people involved in the MUN president search can't be trusted and they aren't all politicians. How are we going to get anyone sensible to apply if people on all sides can't keep their traps shut? The hiring process must have some degree of personal confidentiality.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    How much of the report will be blacked out this time?

  • cynic
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Ches, b'y,
    Eddy had two degrees from MU with a Newf wife and at least one kid - Not enough, I guess. You'd rather a newf puppet....

  • what
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Public opinion was that only MUN should do the search under their criteria. However government wanted the major input so they could make policy........Bob got upstaged and the obvious was disclosed. Perhaps he should accept the pre-release of this document and take a back seat. Apparently there are those who don't want his misguided interference either....

  • Bar Association
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Avalon Observer fm NL.... Lol, I love it ..

  • james
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    and you people complain about harper williams is his clone

  • Danny's World
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    The sooner you all realize that there is nothing in the Province that Danny does not control the better you will be. This warlord has the province in his grip of death and will sink it eventually. While i agree we need someone to fight for what is right for us, there has to be a balance. all fight and no talk is dangerous. I am sure that a negetative comment about the all mighty Danny will soon be stricken from the record as he probably controls the press as well!!

  • Avalon Observer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    An inept politician named Burke
    With a boss who behaves like a jerk
    Rejected each pick
    And gave them the flick
    Way to go, Joan, keep up the good work.

  • Beverly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Isnt the full unmodified report the report Government now has in its possession? How full and unmodified will the report be by March 10? Will Joan Burke still be Minister without much Education on that date?

  • Ches
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    As long as it's Newfoundlanders running the show and gets to be Pres then I'm ok but enough of the mainlander elite running this province! If ya don't like it b'y get back to stinky Owwntareeoh

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    This stinks of nobody having to provide any accountability yet it's still governments' fault. Making a silly statement like -He can't hold me to anything I wasn't aware of- translates to me as -I didn't know, so I shouldn't be penalized-. Is ignorance truly a good excuse in this circumstance? Is -I'm Sorry- supposed to make it all ok?

    It's a confidentiality issue, it's a professional issue, it's an issue of trust, and it's an issue reflective of the pride of all parties involved. Bob Simmonds has impressed me with his approach, and I feel his approach has all the above qualities in abundance.

    I'd like to know who slipped it under his door and their motives.

  • Barry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Simmonds was hand picked by Williams to make it look like something was being done. Now all of a sudden Simmonds is the tough guy standing up to Williams and Burke. If your doing all this Mr Simmonds tell us your not doing it for the big bucks involved. Now go call Danny and see what you should be doing next Bob.

  • Eddy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Danny and Joanie made this mess.

  • H
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    It never ceases to amaze me that we have such silly people making important decisions for such a large university. If the selection committee had any sense at all they would have snatched up Eddie Campbell before another university did. The last president MUN had (Meisen) always came across as arrogant, and I've never heard of a single student who liked him. He wasn't personable, and he liked to mask problems. This was evident in not only the case of a prof publishing data that he made up himself, but also when a female prof (complained of) being harassed by a student and he failed to take any real action to help her. Dr Campbell is so personable and helpful, and he doesn't act like we are little minions who are beneath him. Now the bottom line is that we have mere months to pick a new president, and we can't even decide on a sensible process for searching/hiring.

    If we keep going on with all these shenanigans, MUN will end up with a really bad name. Plenty of people leave this province as it is to pursue educational ventures, it's not like MUN is our only option.

  • cynic
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I thought Simmonds said the selection process was going to be open this time.... maybe he meant controlled by Danny Williams instead? Yeah, I guess they are both right. There is a trust issue here. So glad Danny is willing to put it all behind him. Very mature. That and the stacked deck.
    What's going to happen if one of his relatives or grandkids or whatever fails a course or is accused of cheating? They can do whatever they want, can't they? Because Danny, Joan, and Bob will put in the fix and then claim - their trust was violated! So sad.

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I,m very suprised that Mr. Blackwood is so close to his homeland and aware of all the corruption that takes place in Newfoundland and labrador. I read his article on compassion in the health care. He was right on target. I'm not suprised that the Conseratives are doing such a bad job, we hear about it here in Ontario..The cancer scandal has gone worldwide.

    There needs to be a good quality control as to who is responsible for what on the Williams team.

    Mary

  • Shannon
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    I have one word: karma.