When CEOs Run Universities

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail features an article on the resignation of Paul Bates as Dean of McMaster’s business school.  I believe the article is instructive in terms of understanding what can happen when private-sector actors are put in senior administrative roles at Canadian univerities

According to the article, McMaster hired Mr. Bates in 2004.  Mr. Bates had no university degree, yet had been very successful in the private sector.  With Mr. Bates as Dean,

[f]aculty members soon became “perplexed” about how decisions were made on important academic matters such as chairing tenure and promotion meetings, developing research policies and developing new graduate programs…By the time Mr. Bates’ five-year contract came up for renewal in 2008, 80 per cent of the faculty opposed his reappointment but they were overruled by the university’s board of governors….The feuding came to a head last spring when the university’s Office of Human Rights and Equity Services released a report that said dissension had become so bad, several faculty members were on medication for depression, anxiety and stress-related illnesses.

Though Mr. Bates resigned as Dean on Thursday, McMaster has given him a new position in the business school where he will focus on “strategy and development.”

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