After six years of service, former principal Marilou McPhedran has left the University of Winnipeg’s Global College, leaving the organization in a state of flux.
The Global College is an innovative arm of the U of W that offers three academic programs—BA in human rights and global studies, MA in peace and conflict studies and a master’s in development practice in indigenous development.
In addition to three academic programs, the Global College provides seven research and public education institutes, ranging from the Institute for War Affected People to the Institute for Health and Human Potential.
McPhedran, a distinguished human rights advocate, recently departed the university on administrative leave after serving as principal of the college since 2008.
McPhedran’s contract with the university expired this year and she will not be returning as principal after her one-year leave, instead taking a post as a criminal justice professor.
“She will be returning primarily to help head up an initiative dealing with human rights curriculum development and a member of the criminal justice department,” said Lloyd Axworthy, president and vice chancellor of the U of W.
During her administrative leave, McPhedran will be serving as a “human rights fellow” in the Geneva office of the UN Fund for Population Advancement (UNFPA).
“This entails contributing to research and writing that UNFPA is asked to submit to UN bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN Secretary-General, and treaty monitoring bodies connected to the major human rights treaties,” McPhedran said via e-mail from Geneva.
Over the next 10 months, the position of principal will be held in an acting capacity by Dean Peachey, a PhD in social psychology and the former vice principal of the college.
“I bring a busy agenda,” he said.
Peachey has taken on the duties of acting principal in addition to those generally reserved for the Global College’s vice principal. He remains the coordinator of the human rights and global studies program and teaches courses on the subject.
During his 10 month term, Peachey hopes to pencil in a consultative re-think of the Global College.
“(I want to) look more carefully at what it means to be a student at the college,” he said, adding it remains a constantly evolving entity on campus and he is excited to be involved in that process.
“We’ll be having a number of conversations with students around that and looking at ways to have a formal designation of being a Global College student.”
Earlier this year, The Uniter reported the Global College had experienced high rates of staff turnover and sick leave due to high work loads and clashes with management.
Eliakim Sibanda, formerly the director of the Institute of Human Rights and Global Studies at the college until 2010, attributes this to the college’s precarious funding situation and other difficulties.
“It’s difficult trying to establish something new, with money dedicated exclusively to the Global College,” he said, adding the history department makes up the backbone of the human rights and global studies program while it faces its own funding shortages.
“Increasingly, there are no funds supporting these departments.”
Peachey said the Global College experienced a funding cut of $10,000 when the university approved its operating budget in June. This cut would have amounted to $35,000, but the College agreed to raise $25,000 from community donors this year.
He sees the U of W as an institution being squeezed for funds from two directions.
The provincial government refuses to create an enrolment-based granting system that would ensure funds keep pace with the student population. Additionally, through the recently approved Bill 2, universities across Manitoba cannot raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation.
“It really does put us all in a bind,” he said, adding he is not protesting the cuts so much as reflecting on the position of the Global College.
“We try and do a lot, we have managed to do a lot and it is exhausting and we’d benefit from more resources and more people … but everyone would.”
For her part, McPhedran is excited to be involved in the College going forward, particularly around human rights curriculum development.
“It is my hope that I will continue to teach human rights but I would like to be of assistance in developing options for a range of disciplines where faculty have an interest in offering certain focused classes,” she said, adding that some examples would include business and human rights or human security and human rights.
“Global College is exciting because it adds value to what is already a strong and special university - it is one of the places where faculty, staff, students and community leaders can work together.”
Published in Volume 67, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 3, 2012)