Mount Allison cancelled its financial contributions to the New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network (NBSPRN) in April after five years of participation, thereby revoking its membership.
David Bruce, director of the office of research services at Mt. A, sent an email to the Argosy disclosing that the decision to cancel Mt. A’s membership was made by the President’s Executive Group, in consultation with Mt. A’s office of research services.
Bruce’s email implied that the NBSPRN provided redundant services. “The support that Mount Allison’s office of research services provides to our own faculty members achieves similar outcomes.”
Bruce’s email also suggests that there is no need to financially support the network because the individual memberships are free.
“Membership in NBSPRN is at the individual level,” he wrote. “Mount Allison faculty and students who have been members of NBSPRN will continue to be registered as members, at no cost.”
In 2010, New Brunswick’s four public universities, UNB, STU, U de M, and Mt. A, signed a five-year agreement with the NBSPRN. The government matched the funding provided by the four universities dollar for dollar.
Initially, Mt. A contributed $25,000 to the NBSPRN. Mt. A reduced its contributions to $10,000 in 2012 and again to $5,000 in 2014. Although UNB and U de M continue to fund the NBSPRN, Mt. A has now cancelled its funding.
The NBSPRN’s mission is to advance citizen engagement and evidence-based policy development in New Brunswick. According to its website, the NBSPRN accomplishes this by facilitating relationships and mobilizing knowledge between those making decisions, those conducting research, non-governmental organizations, and New Brunswick citizens.
Mt. A is home to many of the networks participants and beneficiaries. Mario Levesque, a political science professor at Mt. A, speaks highly of the NBSPRN on its website. “The NBSPRN has allowed me to quickly incorporate provincially relevant research into my larger research agenda.”
Nick Scott, the executive director of the NBSPRN, said in an email that he understands the financial pressures that face post-secondary institutions, but stressed that that the network is a worthwhile investment because of the tremendous amount of value it generates for both universities and the general public.
Scott also mentioned that in addition to the services, connections, and grants the NBSPRN provides, their team has offered invaluable support to its members and in organizing conferences that advance its mission.
Scott said the network will continue to maintain its relationship with the Mt. A community in order to continue its mission to advance evidence-based policy and citizen engagement. He also expressed that the network’s work for the public good comes at a cost. “The network depends on its members to realize its mission.”
Michael Fox, a professor in the department of geography and environment and member of the network’s advisory committee, was not consulted on Mt. A’s decision to withdraw from the network. He said he is concerned about how this decision reflects on Mt. A.
“The fact that Mt. A has apparently decided to rescind its membership in the network reflects very poorly on our institutional character,” Fox said.
Dave Thomas, the head of the politics & international relations department, said a few of his colleagues were active participants in the network. He voiced concerns about Mt. A’s membership cancellation and the administration’s approach to decision-making.
“This decision was made without any form of consultation that I am aware of, which seems to be part of a larger trend of the centralization of decision making, authority and power at this institution,” Thomas said.