Concordia president forced to resign

Claude Lajeunesse

Concordia President Claude Lajeunesse has resigned, just two years and change after taking office. The reason? Everyone hated him.

You can tell it’s bad when the PR people aren’t even trying to hide it. It was a “mutual agreement” between Lajeunesse and the Board of Governors, according to spokesperson Chris Mota, who I’m sure has had a really bad day today trying to explain to the media why the university’s internal political struggles are literally ripping its senior administration to shreds.

(He had a similar problem at his previous stint at Ryerson, and those who remember him there are applauding this embarrassing misstep in his career.)

While a search committee hurriedly tries to find a replacement, the Board will have to find an interim replacement, likely from within the university’s senior administration.

Unfortunately for them, not many of those people are qualified for the job, if only because few of them have PhDs. Instead, all but one of Concordia’s VPs are professionals in their fields, and have specific skills training instead of rounded academic degrees. (One, the fundraising VP Kathy Assayag, doesn’t even have a bachelor’s degree. Ms. Assayag does, in fact, have a degree from McGill University. My apologies.)

The Provost/VP Academic position, which is the most logical choice for an interim replacement, is vacant after Lajeunesse eliminated his political enemies reluctantly accepted the forced resignation of Martin Singer last year.

That leaves the four faculty deans, the dean of “general studies” and the VP of research and graduate studies comprising the field of candidates. And that’s already reaching. You could also go down to the vice-provost and vice-deans, but that that point you might as well start appointing janitors to senior administration positions.

Speaking of which, do you want to run Concordia University? Send in your CV, they might just be desperate enough to take you.

Meanwhile, even the crazy leftists who think all senior administrators are out to secretly murder them are looking back longingly at the days of former president Fred Lowy, who diplomatically kept the university together instead of stubbornly shutting people out (at least until the Netanyahu riot put so much pressure on him he started making poor decisions)

UPDATE: The Gazette has a longer story on the sudden departure, with a quote from an anonymous “insider” pointing out the obvious: That personality conflicts and a clash of professional styles between the Board of Governors and Lajeunesse led to the latter’s departure. It also points out the troubles he’s had with labour unions, the unfortunate timing with the provost position being vacant as well, and the relative quiet on the student front (which is more a matter of a shift in student politics than anything on the administration side).

Meanwhile, Lajeunesse himself issues the most BS-laden press release I’ve seen in … minutes. (Does all this niceness about his departure mean he’s still going to attend his meet-and-greet barbecue this Friday?)

On the same day, he announces that Dr. Louise Dandurand, the graduate studies and research VP I mentioned above who’s one of the few people with a PhD on the senior administration, has been appointed interim Provost. That puts her in the most logical position to take over the presidency, though it would look odd being promoted to an interim position based on holding another position you were promoted to a month earlier.

UPDATE (Sept. 21): The Gazette demands to know why he stepped down. It suggests the problem might have to do with an existential debate over whether the university should be more Ivy-leagueish or more accessible, a debate that was settled years before Lajeunesse came here when Concordia dropped its “real education for the real world” slogan and decided it would be a serious, research-based university that was still accessible.

UPDATE (Sept. 25): The Link reports that one of the governors is quietly resigning for undisclosed reasons (though the timing suggests a possible link to the Lajeunesse resignation).

UPDATE (Sept. 27): Concordia’s full-time faculty association (which normally doesn’t take issue with anything the university does) is peeved at the lack of an explanation.

12 thoughts on “Concordia president forced to resign

  1. Fagstein Post author

    (Submitted by email with a request not to be identified):

    You touted lack of academic qualifications among administrators. One of the few to do so. How anybody could even consider someone who was an associate professor for about two decades and has an essentially empty publishing record (a Ph.D thesis) that would today not enable to get any academic position in Con.U. to become a Provost defies reason.

    There is concern about Concordia’s reputation. How does Pres’s resignation enhance this?

    Reply
  2. Too bad

    I would like to remain anonymous.
    I am a professor at Concordia and know this little world. This departure is a shame for Concordia and a misstep. It will be indeed hard to find a qualitfied person within the current top administrator. This is not new anyway, the former Provost having indeed a very light “academic record for publication”. You can easely check that using an online database such as SciFinder, Scopus or WOS. You can in the mean time extend the search to many other Concordians, you might be surprised…
    I think a solution might be the full renewal of the senate as well as its board of Governators (that’s not a typo).
    Good luck Concordia

    Reply
  3. Anon

    They should ask the runner up. I beleive the other person that was considered for the presidency would have been a better choice.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    As an employee of Concoridia. I have been waiting for this to happen! I am thrilled to see the tyrant go. Not soon enough though. He engendered fear in alot of people and threatened job security. Apparently they have paid him 1.6 million to leave. I think he should give the money to Concordia to fix all his f%&* ups!

    Reply
  5. Anon

    Were it not for the “runner-up”, Lajeunesse would never have been Rector/President in the first place. The selection process became a contest between […], one of whom, a former insider whose allegiance has been with McGill in a directly competitive activity, NOT as an academic which would be acceptable, for about ten years was known to the “powers-that-be”, the other obviously an outsider who provided all those gutless so called decsion-makers with the opportuity to say: “How could we possibly have known?”.

    If this blog was able to establish that Lajeunesse had left a trail of dissatisfaction behind him in Toronto, how could a horde of highly-paid headhunters and a star-studded board of governors be so dumb as to choose him? Be that as it may, Lajeunesse never deserved to be there in the first place. He is insensitive, totally ignorant of the Concordia culture (not that the Concordia culture is perfect) and about 15 years behind the times. Rector Kenniff understood that Concordia was NOT McGill and acted accordingly until a horde of sycophants decided the truth was too hard to bear and dug-in ostrich-style, scape-goating Kenniff in the Fabrikant affair, to replace him by a psychiatrist who at least had the common sense to stop the bleeding.

    But, Lajeunesse’s legacy will not be totally negative. He did get rid of […] ex-Dean/Provost Singer […]. It remains to be seen if, collectively, Concordia will have the courage to define itself based on its known “sellable” strengths and find itself a leader who will restore the University’s image and capacity so it can deliver marketable education to students who need it to face the challenges of globalization and who choose Condordia for its capacity to help them achieve their personal obejctives.

    (Ed: This comment has been edited to remove gratuitous insults and slurs.)

    Reply
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  9. Anonymous

    Kathy Assayag, Vice President does have a Degree from McGill University. A BA: Major in Humanistic Studies and minor in Economics

    Reply
  10. kathy Assayag

    Hello,
    Regarding your page: Concordia President Forced to Resign dated September 19th.
    I am Vice President Kathy Assayag and I do have a BA from McGill University (Major in Humanistics Studies and Minor in Economics). I would ask that you correct your information and I invite you to google me if you wish.
    Best regards

    Reply

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