Niagara’s Brock University Makes National News Over Its Abrupt Parting Of Ways With Incoming President

A Brief News Commentary from Doug Draper

Posted September 1st, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – You always have to wonder what may really be going on when a public body circulates a media release with bombshell information in it after office hours, when no one is around to contact for further information.

Brock University's would-be new president. We hardly got to know her.

Brock University’s would-be new president. We hardly got to know her.

Such was the case this past Monday, August 29th when Brock University in St. Catharines, Niagara emailed out a media release after 6 p.m. that the university was already saying adieu (in so many words) to Wendy Cukier, someone it had celebrated just nine months earlier as Brock’s soon-to-be female president in its half-century history.

Brock’s communications office is usually pretty good about getting media releases, complete with ready-to-use photo images, out early enough in the day that there is plenty of time for a media outlet to call if it needs any further information to post a story. And Brock, like most other universities and colleges across the continent, has been busy circulating more media releases than ever before as a way of promoting itself to would-be students, private donors and others.

So when a media release saying that the individual that would be the university’s next president, beginning this September 1st, suddenly won’t be the next president and it comes out too late to call for an explanation that was absent from the release, you don’t have to take a course in Communications 101 to know that something has gone flying off the rails here.

With everything else going on in this region, province and around the world, Niagara At Large didn’t have the resources to probe this, but it didn’t take long before a story with the headline; “Brock president’s exit may raise broader stability, gender issues,” appeared on the front page of this September 1st’s edition of The Globe and Mail.

“The abrupt departure of Wendy Cukier from the position of president of Brock University before she even began should lead institutions to examine how women are faring in their senior ranks, say experts on leadership at Canadian universities,” begins the Globe story.

“No reason for the decision have been released and observes of Canadian universities have been left to wonder what role gender may have played. That could well have been a factor, said David Turpin, president of the University of Alberta,” continues the story.

Later on in the story, Julie Cafley, vice-president of the Canada’s Public Policy Forum who knows Cukier from her work founding Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute in Toronto, is quoted saying; “I know Wendy as a mover, she’s an innovator. … As a woman coming from Toronto, who wants to move faster, who is not held back from formalities that sometimes exist in traditional institutions, that might have become an issue.”

Hmm.

If anyone out there cares to share any further insights on why Wendy Cukier is gone before we ever got to know her at Brock, we invite you to share them in the space below.

Meanwhile, here is the brief media release Brock circulated this past August 29th, followed by a link to the September 1st story in The Globe and Mail –

Campus of Brock Univesity in St. Catharines, Niagara.

Campus of Brock Univesity in St. Catharines, Niagara.

It is with great regret that I am announcing that Dr. Wendy Cukier and the Board of Trustees of Brock University have arrived at a mutual decision to not proceed with her appointment as President and Vice-Chancellor of Brock University.

Dr. Cukier is an outstanding alumnus and scholar, with a well-established record as a university leader. We greatly appreciate her contributions to the University since her appointment was announced last December. The long transition process gave both parties an opportunity to work together and many positive developments ensued. Dr. Cukier brought to the University new opportunities that will be part of her legacy. However, both parties have determined through this process that it was best not to proceed with her appointment.

Dr. Cukier will continue her work on innovation, on diversity and her active engagement with industry and community organizations. We wish her all success in her future endeavours.

Details regarding the formal search for Brock University’s President and Vice-Chancellor will be announced at a later date.

John Suk,, Chair, Brock University Board of Trustees

Read The Globe and Mail story by clicking on – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/new-brock-u-presidents-sudden-departure-raises-gender-issues/article31655382/ .

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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