OTTAWA - The president of Carleton University's faculty association says he'd like to see all future donor agreements between the university and patrons made public.
Jason Etele, an engineering professor, says problems with a donor agreement in Carleton's school of political management were avoidable and have "soured the morale" of teaching staff.
"But they're not surprised," the newly elected president of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association said Friday in an interview.
"Anecdotally, there has been a trend towards this type of behaviour, and it certainly has been creating some difficulties for Carleton and I think for universities elsewhere."
The university conceded this week it will need to redraft sections of a $15-million donor deal to fund its year-old graduate program, fronted by former Reform party founder Preston Manning, in order to comply with school policies.
The concession came after Carleton fought the release of the secret document for almost a year under Ontario's freedom of information laws.
The contract reveals the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation — created by Calgary businessman Clayton Riddell — effectively appointed three of five people on a steering committee that had sweeping powers over the graduate school's curriculum, budget and academic hiring.
Neither Carleton's faculty or its governing senate was fully aware of the agreement's details, and even Carleton's representatives on the steering committee itself are believed to have been in the dark until the donor agreement was released to The Canadian Press on June 29.
According to the Canadian Association of University Teachers, or CAUT, granting that kind of outside academic control seriously undermines a university's independence and academic integrity.
Similar battles have erupted at universities from Waterloo, Ont., to Calgary in the past year, and some see it as a sign of the times.
"There's been a growing feeling of university administration growth and a real kind of corporatization: 'What's the bottom line?'" said Etele.
"It is a public institution and the public has a right to know where the university is spending their money."
Ironically, multiple sources within Carleton confirm the university's contention that the problematic steering committee never actually exercised its powers over faculty hiring decisions, and that all hiring followed normal procedures.
Riddell has indicated in media interviews that he is not averse to having the offending sections of the donor deal rewritten.
And the Manning Centre for Building Democracy suggested in an email that the donor agreement's provisions can be altered.
"We are delighted with the program and are open to any changes that might further its success," said spokesman Olivier Ballou.
The Clayton H. Riddell School of Political Management begins its second academic year in September.
Controversies over donor agreements with universities are not new, but they've become more prominent in the past year.
Problems used to revolve around corporate naming rights for buildings and the fallout that resulted when some scandal tarnished the brand, noted David Robinson, director of research and advocacy at CAUT.
"But certainly what we're seeing now more and more is that companies that are giving money for programs, for research, are seen to be expecting more and more in return, and having more control over it," Robinson said in an interview.
CAUT has threatened to boycott Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo if they don't change the governance structure at their Balsillie School of International Affairs, while York University's Osgoode Hall cancelled a deal with the Centre for International Governance Innovation over similar concerns about academic independence.
Last fall, Postmedia News compelled the University of Calgary to release details of two charitable-status trust accounts used by climate change skeptics. The documents showed that the university received $175,000 from Talisman Energy for a PR and lobbying campaign against government programs to restrict fossil fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Not all philanthropists, however, get the welcome they might expect from universities.
When Chris McDermott, a Carleton alumnus now with a New York investment firm, gave the university $5,000 towards a scholarship fund for climate change research in January 2010, he received a mocking email in response.
Fen Hampson, Carleton's director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, invited McDermott to visit him in Ottawa.
"I can take you skating on the frigid Rideau Canal, which did not melt this summer (global warming notwithstanding) and offer you some icewine afterwards, made from frozen Niagara grapes that were harvested in July," Hampson wrote.
He also suggested McDermott's donation "will be enhanced in the future as cap and trade comes into full play and investors like yourself play climate change roulette, much like the investors who wreaked such havoc in 2008-09."
Roseann O'Reilly Runte, Carleton's president, responded to McDermott's letter of complaint by saying Hampson "intended to be humorous," and she graciously accepted the donation.
McDermott is still fuming about the incident and contacted The Canadian Press after reading about the latest donor agreement imbroglio.
Zach Dayler, national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said donations are a fact of university life, but must be handled with care.
"It's a matter of making sure they respect what the institution's about — research, openness, the idea of pursuing knowledge without constraints," said Dayler.
"Absolutely, public and transparent is one of the most important things we can do — especially when these institutions are majority funded by public dollars."
Top Schools In The World
Here's the top 20 schools in terms of reputation as listed by Times Higher Education.
#20: Kyoto University
Kyoto University was only one of two non-Anglo schools in the top 20 of the ratings.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="Photo courtesy of Flickr/Jun Seita" target="_hplink">Flickr/Jun Seita</a>)
#19: University Of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania's famed Wharton School of Business is shown here.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/teofilo/" target="_hplink">Flickr/teofilo</a>)
#18: Johns Hopkins University
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins is particularly known for its sciences, and research from the institution is among the most referenced in the world.
#16: University Of Toronto
The only Canadian university to make it into the top 20 schools for reputation, U of T, with its three different campuses, ties with Cornell University for 16th place.
#16: Cornell University
The iconic Uris Library and McGraw Tower sits on top of a hill at Cornell University.
#15: Columbia University
Located in New York City, Columbia University is renowned for its business, education, and journalism programs.
#14: University Of Chicago
The city of Chicago may be known as the "Windy City" but you're not likely to find any airheads at this university, thanks to its strong focus on academic exploration and research.
#13: Imperial College London
One of three British Universities to penetrate the top 20, the Imperial College London has roughly 13,000 students and four faculties: business, natural science, medicine, and engineering.
#12: University Of Michigan
Established in 1817, the University of Michigan was one of the first public universities in the U.S. Since then, the university has expanded into three different campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint Michigan with nearly 59,000 students enrolled.
#11: California Institute Of Technology
Many students and alumni have walked the halls of the Broad Center for Biological Sciences at California Institute of Technology. The university has more than 30 graduates that have gone to win Nobel prizes, and one alumnus has even walked on the moon.
#10: Yale University
Students attending Yale can have the satisfaction that they're studying in the same buildings as five U.S. presidents and 17 Supreme Court justices. Yale is also America's third-oldest university and the birthplace for mascots and residences.
#9: University Of California Los Angeles
Since this university is situated close to Hollywood, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's a school's known for its film and television program. For those looking for a program with less glitz and glamour, the university has five health science schools, seven post-graduate schools and five undergraduate colleges.
#8: University Of Tokyo
The second university from Japan to join the list, the University of Tokyo has seen 15 of its students graduate and become Prime Minister. The school also has 11 institutes focused on researching phenomena like cosmic rays and earthquakes.
#7: Princeton University
Size isn't everything and Princeton University can certainly attest to that. The university is one of the smaller Ivy League schools with its 500-acre campus and a population of roughly 7500 students. Still, it's diminutive size hasn't stopped the school from featuring 30 Nobel laureates among its past faculty and alumni.
#6: University Of Oxford
Yale may be America's third oldest university, but the University of Oxford is the third oldest surviving university in history. With such an established history in post-secondary education, it's no surprise that 26 British Prime Ministers and at least 30 other world leaders have once called Oxford their home.
#5: University Of California Berkeley
Home of the iconic Campanile Tower, the University Of California Berkeley, or UC Berkeley for short, has about 36,000 students. The university is also where vitamin E and the flu virus were discovered and where the first no-fault divorce law was drafted.
#4: Stanford University
Getting into Stanford is tough -- just ask the 93 per cent of applicants the school rejects annually. But those who graduate tend to do well and have gone off to establish large corporations like Hewlett-Packard and Google. Stanford is also the third-richest university in the world.
#3: University Of Cambridge
Modern science and technology owes a great deal to the University of Cambridge and its graduates. Names like Issac Newton, Ernest Rutherfords, Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, James D. Watson and Sir Francis Crick all spent some time at Cambridge.
#2: Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
The motto at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology is Mens et manus -- meaning "Mind and Hand". It reflects the institute's hands-on approach to education, similar to European polytechnic institutes. Their approach can be seen in any one of the school's six faculties and in their over 10,000 students.
#1: Harvard University
With age comes wisdom and Harvard is a university that certainly has age. As America's oldest university, the school has over 21,000 students and over 40 alumni that have gone on to become Nobel laureates. The school has also produced two Canadian Prime Ministers: Mackenzie King and Pierre Trudeau.