By Jessica Lovell
Former University of Guelph provost and vice-president (academic) Maureen Mancuso echoes the sentiments of former president Alastair Summerlee that the pair did nothing wrong in pitching a new university in Brampton while still in their respective positions at the U of G.
“We did not see this as a conflict of interest,” Mancuso said in an email to the Tribune. “We made our intentions to submit a (letter of intent) known to the appropriate university and college officials.”
Along with Centennial College president Ann Buller, Mancuso and Summerlee had partnered on a plan to propose a new university in Brampton in response to a call from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for major capacity expansion proposals for post-secondary institutions.
They pitched their plan to Brampton city council on June 25. University spokesperson Chuck Cunningham has gone on record as saying the U of G administration learned of the plan a day later.
Mancuso didn’t respond to the question of when university officials were notified.
The idea for a new university was a joint project between Summerlee and herself, Mancuso said.
“We were two senior academic administrators who were at the end of our terms and preparing to step down,” she said. “Like many others in similar circumstances, we were examining other opportunities out there that we might want to pursue next.”
Summerlee was to finish up his term at the end of June, while Mancuso was to finish up at the end of July. Both are currently on paid leave from the University of Guelph.
Their Brampton U proposal was explicitly independent from the U of G, Mancuso said. “We have been clear at every step of this process that this was not a University of Guelph proposal,” she said.
At the same time, though, Summerlee and Mancuso were both involved in the University of Guelph’s joint proposal with Humber College to expand capacity at the U of G-Humber.
“I continued to work as well on the submission from Guelph in my role as provost, including drafting some language for use in that LOI, and positioning the proposal vis-à-vis the government’s framework and guidelines,” she said.
Both she and Summerlee were involved in the establishment of the Guelph-Humber partnership and “remain committed to its future success,” she said.
The Guelph-Humber notice of intent and the Brampton university notice of intent were among 27 preliminary proposals submitted to the ministry for its June 27 deadline. Detailed proposals are due in late September.
The Brampton proposal will not be among them.
A government memo released in late July made it clear that any submission that is not affiliated with an existing publicly assisted university will not be considered, explained Mancuso.
“We did not think it prudent to invest the time, effort and resources into developing a full-blown proposal that was not going to be assessed,” she said.
By Jessica Lovell