‘Questionable’ appointment should be scrutinized

Yukon College staff are examining the hiring process of Terry Weninger, who was recently appointed president of the institution.

Yukon College staff are examining the hiring process of Terry Weninger, who was recently appointed president of the institution.

Last week, the college’s board of governors announced that Weninger had accepted the three-year contract.

Weninger did not apply for the job.

And he chaired the selection committee that screened the applications and recommended three candidates for the post.

Weninger also sat, as a non-voting member, on the board that decided to appoint him.

“Overall, I think the process is highly questionable,” said Duffy Webber, a college carpentry teacher for the past 15 years.

Staff, the selection committee and senior management were all in agreement on the candidates’ ranking.

But the board ranked them in the opposite way.

The appointment has raised a lot of questions with college staff.

“Why is the vision of the board fundamentally different from the vision of the staff and managers at the college?” asked Webber.

“I find it amazing that when the person they chose turned the job down they found the other two candidates unacceptable.

“What is it that the board expects to do that really talented and experienced and independent people would interfere with?

“I think this is all very important and needs to be scrutinized.”

The presidential selection process began in January.

A selection committee was established.

It consisted of Weninger as chair, Clarence Timmons, two staff reps, two union reps and human resources director Jock Bryce.

The committee reviewed applications and brought three candidates forward for consideration.

One was the past president of two Canadian universities.

Another was the dean at an Albertan community college.

The third was interim president of BC’s College of New Caledonia.

He was a former colleague of Weninger, who was president of New Caledonia from 1990-2004.

The board-endorsed candidate worked at the BC college for the last eight years.

The three presidential candidates were flown to the Yukon on April 27 and 28 to meet with college staff, community members and board members.

After that, the board of governors reviewed the candidates.

It “considered each candidate’s outlook, their track record in similar environments, their relationship with important groups such as students, staff and the community at large, their leadership ability, their skill sets, as well as intangibles such as their passion for the college,” wrote board chair Clarence Timmons in a May 9 letter to Yukon College staff.

The board stuck a three-member committee to negotiate with the candidate — Norma Shorty, Rob McIntyre and Dan Lang.

And they offered the third candidate the job.

Days later he declined.

Then the board decided the other two candidates were not qualified for the job.

The board also decided against launching another competition.

“The timing would be such that people in the system have by now committed to their institution for another year,” wrote Timmons.

The board must approve the candidate unanimously.

“We could not reach unanimous consent with the other two candidates,” said Timmons.

The candidates recommended to the board had the academic qualifications.

But their visions didn’t mesh with the board’s vision, he said.

“The board members felt that they were not the candidates who would move the college forward the way the board wanted to at this time,” said Timmons

So, after a closed door meeting in Dawson City on May 5 and 6, the board decided to offer the job to Weninger.

“We wanted to bring stability to the college,” said Timmons.

A transcript of that board meeting’s minutes will not be available until it has been vetted by the board at its June 2 meeting.

The discussions about the presidential appointment were held in-camera.

Timmons is the chair of the 12-member board; Norma Shorty and Dan Lang both sit as vice-chairs.

Although it was the board’s decision to appoint Weninger, he was asked to sit out of the meeting where board members discussed the extension of his contract, said Timmons.

“No, no, no. Dr. Weninger was in no way shape or form involved in the conversation.”

“His work has been excellent, as a board we are pleased with his work.

“And we felt it was in the best interests of the college to move forward with Dr. Weninger.”

Before Weninger’s original appointment as interim president in April 2006, the college’s employees’ union expressed concerns to the board of governors.

The board replied that those concerns would be addressed.

And Weninger’s appointment went ahead as planned.

Now, more than a year later, the union has expressed concerns again about the appointment of Weninger for another three years.

Staff felt “betrayed,” “disappointed,” “suckered” and “furious” after finding out Weninger had been appointed, wrote Tim Topper, who was acting union president, last Tuesday.

From 1975 to 1984, Weninger held senior administrative positions with the Yukon government including deputy minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

During that time, Dan Lang was minister of Tourism and Economic Development.