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Turmoil in the ranks? Peddle third associate VP at Grenfell to resign

David Peddle has resigned as associate vice-president academic at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University in Corner Brook.
David Peddle has resigned as associate vice-president academic at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University in Corner Brook.

David Peddle is of the opinion the autonomy of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University is being undermined and citing a lack of leadership and philosophical differences he has with administration at both Corner Brook and St. John’s campuses, he resigned as associate vice-president academic (Grenfell).

It marks the third resignation of an associate vice-president in as many months. Gary Bradshaw, associate vice-president administration and finance, and Antony Card, associate vice-president research, both resigned their positions in October. They both remain with Memorial, with Bradshaw accepting the same position with the Marine Institute and Card expected to return to his teaching position in the Human Kinetics division at the St. John's campus.

A professor of philosophy at the university in his hometown since 2000, Peddle worked his way up the halls, administratively, of the campus where he was once a student.

He learned the fight for the integrity of the institution — its quest to propel the western region economically — from the likes of the late and former principal of then Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, John Ashton, and a colleague and former administrator Wade Bowers.

For the past four years, Peddle became one of the main drivers at Grenfell in furthering its autonomy as the associate vice-president academic. Unfortunately, he says, it became more of a losing battle than a drive. His letter of resignation detailed the same.

“I am resigning because of the philosophical disagreement I have with Dr. (Mary) Bluechardt (vice-president Grenfell) and St. John’s administration concerning the structural integrity and academic governance of Grenfell Campus,” he wrote.

Peddle sat down with The Western Star this week to discuss his resignation. He said the issue he has with Bluechardt ends there — she hasn’t, in his opinion, led Grenfell in standing up in defence or taking charge of what he feels is its fundamental principles of existence.

Peddle praised Bluechardt highly for her mediatory and personal skills, and her ability to reach out to people in need. He calls her a friend, and in many ways a mentor, but their differences with respect to structure and governance proved too great for him.

“There are times Grenfell has needed to be defended, and it wasn’t defended,” he said.

The desire for autonomy at Grenfell goes back decades. The Kelly/Davies report commissioned in 2006 remains the document its supporters clearly identify as the recommendations outlining how such independence would be best achieved. Two of its principle points identified that, in order for Grenfell to realize its potential in the western region, it needs to have a dynamic and powerful administration and there should not be one vice-president academic responsible for all campus.

In 2009, the provincial government announced Grenfell would undergo several changes. Those included its own budget, structural changes in administerial titles and reporting, funding for marketing and recruitment, and the name change. It was toted by government officials as granting the university campus its autonomy without losing the relationship established with Memorial University.

For some, it fell short of the intent.

Others, like Peddle, put aside any disappointment, hoping these changes were a first step in the progression of Grenfell as an autonomous institution.

Grenfell has grown tremendously, academically and in its infrastructure, in the years that followed. Internally, however, Peddle says the changes have followed a backwards trend. The creation of the position of provost and vice-president (academic) in St. John’s, and the delegation of some managerial functions under a newly formed Vice-Presidents Council in 2011 immediately brought concern to him.

Slowly, the control granted to Grenfell in 2009 to help plot is own path slipped away, he said, and that control returned to administration in St. John’s. The barrier that was once eliminated between the vice-president Grenfell and the university’s president, Gary Kachanoski — and ultimately the chancellor, board of regents and senate — was back, according to him.

“I don’t know why the hell they want to control us,” Peddle said of administration in St. John’s.

Peddle’s resignation signifies a stand against the way things have unfolded, he said, but also represents his inability to do more for Grenfell and the western region under the role of associate vice-president academic.

As a tenured professor, he plans to continue teaching philosophy at Grenfell.

Twitter: @WS_CoryHurley

 

See related stories here and here

 

It marks the third resignation of an associate vice-president in as many months. Gary Bradshaw, associate vice-president administration and finance, and Antony Card, associate vice-president research, both resigned their positions in October. They both remain with Memorial, with Bradshaw accepting the same position with the Marine Institute and Card expected to return to his teaching position in the Human Kinetics division at the St. John's campus.

A professor of philosophy at the university in his hometown since 2000, Peddle worked his way up the halls, administratively, of the campus where he was once a student.

He learned the fight for the integrity of the institution — its quest to propel the western region economically — from the likes of the late and former principal of then Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, John Ashton, and a colleague and former administrator Wade Bowers.

For the past four years, Peddle became one of the main drivers at Grenfell in furthering its autonomy as the associate vice-president academic. Unfortunately, he says, it became more of a losing battle than a drive. His letter of resignation detailed the same.

“I am resigning because of the philosophical disagreement I have with Dr. (Mary) Bluechardt (vice-president Grenfell) and St. John’s administration concerning the structural integrity and academic governance of Grenfell Campus,” he wrote.

Peddle sat down with The Western Star this week to discuss his resignation. He said the issue he has with Bluechardt ends there — she hasn’t, in his opinion, led Grenfell in standing up in defence or taking charge of what he feels is its fundamental principles of existence.

Peddle praised Bluechardt highly for her mediatory and personal skills, and her ability to reach out to people in need. He calls her a friend, and in many ways a mentor, but their differences with respect to structure and governance proved too great for him.

“There are times Grenfell has needed to be defended, and it wasn’t defended,” he said.

The desire for autonomy at Grenfell goes back decades. The Kelly/Davies report commissioned in 2006 remains the document its supporters clearly identify as the recommendations outlining how such independence would be best achieved. Two of its principle points identified that, in order for Grenfell to realize its potential in the western region, it needs to have a dynamic and powerful administration and there should not be one vice-president academic responsible for all campus.

In 2009, the provincial government announced Grenfell would undergo several changes. Those included its own budget, structural changes in administerial titles and reporting, funding for marketing and recruitment, and the name change. It was toted by government officials as granting the university campus its autonomy without losing the relationship established with Memorial University.

For some, it fell short of the intent.

Others, like Peddle, put aside any disappointment, hoping these changes were a first step in the progression of Grenfell as an autonomous institution.

Grenfell has grown tremendously, academically and in its infrastructure, in the years that followed. Internally, however, Peddle says the changes have followed a backwards trend. The creation of the position of provost and vice-president (academic) in St. John’s, and the delegation of some managerial functions under a newly formed Vice-Presidents Council in 2011 immediately brought concern to him.

Slowly, the control granted to Grenfell in 2009 to help plot is own path slipped away, he said, and that control returned to administration in St. John’s. The barrier that was once eliminated between the vice-president Grenfell and the university’s president, Gary Kachanoski — and ultimately the chancellor, board of regents and senate — was back, according to him.

“I don’t know why the hell they want to control us,” Peddle said of administration in St. John’s.

Peddle’s resignation signifies a stand against the way things have unfolded, he said, but also represents his inability to do more for Grenfell and the western region under the role of associate vice-president academic.

As a tenured professor, he plans to continue teaching philosophy at Grenfell.

Twitter: @WS_CoryHurley

 

See related stories here and here

 

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