Rebuilding confidence big part of next steps, Laurentian says in court filing
SUDBURY -- Describing the process so far as "disruptive and unsettling" to staff and students, Laurentian University says in a court affidavit the next step in its insolvency process is rebuilding damaged confidence and relationships.
"We appreciate that this rebuilding process will take some time, but we are committed to doing whatever it takes to regain any ground that may have been lost through past events or this proceeding," said an affidavit filed by LU president Robert Haché.
Phase 1 of the process under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ends April 30. The university is hoping to get approval for Phase 2, which would run until Aug. 31. If approved, the school would receive another $10 million in emergency loans to continue operating, as well as access to other funding.
The affidavit shed some light on why certain programs were cut. For example, many people were confused about why the midwifery program was cut, when it routinely has a waiting list for students who want to join.
Funding from the Ministry of College and Universities (MCU) and Ministry of Health didn't cover the program's costs, Laurentian said.
"As financial support to post-secondary institutions generally is subject to the prerogative of the province and midwifery is an expensive program to run (relative to other programs), it is difficult for LU to solely rely on grant funding to continue operating the program," the university said.
"Further compounding matters is the fact that the MCU has imposed an annual cap of 30 new students that may be accepted into the midwifery program at LU, which limits its potential growth. LU offered midwifery in English and French, and the enrollment cap applied to both programs overall."
Laurentian is committed to reforming its governance structure "in order to identify and implement best practices for the future," the affidavit said.
"To this end, LU will be engaging, through my office as president, an external adviser with sector expertise to undertake an extensive review of all areas. This process will include consultation with LU’s stakeholders and will be open and transparent."
The university is also reviewing its real estate holdings and may sell some of its land.
"The purpose of the review will be to determine what assets may exist that could be monetized for the benefit of stakeholders, or that could create future financial efficiencies for the benefit of LU and its stakeholders," the court affidavit said. "This process will also be undertaken with the assistance of external parties, including those with sector expertise."
Laurentian will have a court hearing April 29, the day when appeals by Thorneloe University and the University of Sudbury trying to stop the termination of the federated university agreement are expected to be heard.