TRU faculty takes university to court over ditched arts programs | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TRU faculty takes university to court over ditched arts programs


Thompson Rivers University professors are looking to the court to settle a dispute over the university's visual arts programs.

The faculty association filed a petition to BC Supreme Court, claiming university brass breached its own rules when it put an end to four arts programs.

It comes more than a year after the university suspended enrolment for the visual arts programs but less than six months after its board of governors moved to cut the four programs.

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In its petition, the faculty association said the university has a set policy for reducing or terminating a program. The board, which is tasked with overall governance, didn't follow that policy, according to the petition. That policy includes consultation with the senate, which oversees academic programs, when stopping admissions or cutting the programs.

The faculty association is asking the court to rule that the university acted against its own policies and to set aside the board's decisions for the visual arts programs.

The university refused to comment "as the matter is before the courts."

According to the petition, the senate did provide the board with submissions from "stakeholders," which included the arts faculty council, but it did not give its own "substantive" advice on the matter.

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Student enrolment to visual arts programs were suspended in March 2023, done "without any formal board consideration or resolution," according to the petition. Arts dean Rick McCutcheon and Gillian Balfour, provost and academic vice president, met with faculty to brief them on the enrolment suspension the next month.

By the end of May, the senate heard from McCutcheon and Balfour for the first time regarding the "potential elimination of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program," according to the petition.

The faculty were concerned that there was no formal review of the department to determine whether the programs should be cut. After opposing the impending terminations, the board went ahead with its decision in January, opting to phase the visual arts department out over three years.

The university has not responded to the faculty association's bid for a judicial review.

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