Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano from faculty members of the University of New Brunswick’s Department of History on April 22, 2021.
We are writing to express our deep concern over the recent cuts to programs and staff at Laurentian University. We do so as members of a provincial university that in many respects performs the same service for our province that Laurentian does for the Northern Ontario region: educating our citizenry for the twenty-first century world; conducting research that advances knowledge in all fields, including the humanities and social sciences; and contributing to the construction of an equitable society.
The fiscal crisis that compelled Laurentian’s administration to make these cuts was, in our understanding, the result of mismanagement by the senior administration. This is not a conducive environment for reevaluating academic programs. In making decisions to terminate programs, neither collegial nor academic consultations were undertaken. As well, consideration of the needs of students, the region, and the province were largely ignored.
The elimination of the Midwifery program, for example, will be highly damaging to families across Ontario and for provincial delivery of obstetrical care, not least in remote communities. Particularly distressing will be the impact on the Francophone and Indigenous populations of northern Ontario, many of whom lack the resources to pursue their education outside of the region. Long-term educational opportunities for these communities will be severely impacted and will exacerbate educational and wealth disparities between the southern Canada and northern communities.
From our perspective, extremely important programs, such as the Masters of Arts in History, the histoire française programmes, Political Science, and Anthropology, also remain essential components to an educated civic community.
We therefore appeal to you to step in to find an alternate solution to the financial crisis of the university, one that will not so adversely disadvantage the long-term opportunities for the students and communities of Northern Ontario.