Brock University will conduct a third-party review of its presidential search process, the school announced Wednesday, a week after the university parted ways with Wendy Cukier, who was supposed to begin a five-year term as president on Sept. 1.
Dr. Cukier, a former vice-president at Ryerson University and a Brock alumna had been picked as the school's first female president in December. But late last month, Brock announced that by mutual agreement, the appointment would not go ahead.
Brock's board of trustees has said it did not know that Ryerson University had conducted an investigation into the workplace environment in the department of research and innovation where Dr. Cukier was vice-president.
That investigation took place in the summer of 2015 and concluded in January, a month after Dr. Cukier's new post was announced.
Employees who worked in Dr. Cukier's department have told The Globe and Mail they were frequently asked to work overtime on short notice, their work was publicly criticized without reason and they felt the environment was "toxic." Dr. Cukier's work ethic was extraordinary, they added.
"I don't know when she sleeps," one former employee said.
Expecting employees to be available at all hours, however, was unrealistic, they said.
Brian Hutchings, Brock's vice-president of finance, is acting as the school's president until the end of September. He is a former executive with the Niagara Region.
The school's senate, which is largely made up of faculty and deans, would like to see a longer-term interim president drawn from the ranks of academic staff.
On Monday, in a special meeting dealing with the crisis at the top, the senate voted to ask for input into the process that will decide who will lead the university while it searches for a new president.
Brock has declined to release the presidential contract it had signed with Dr. Cukier or the terms of her departure. According to the Ontario government's public salary disclosure list, at Ryerson, she earned $289,784.04 in 2015 and $366,223.54 the prior year.
"Dr. Cukier has a privacy interest that requires a certain process to take place before her employment agreement is made public by the university," a statement released by the university said Monday.