Award-winning leadership professor calls on AUT to rethink redundancies

Auckland University of Technology
Auckland University of Technology . . . senior management has lost the trust of staff says a leadership professor. Image: RNZ

Pacific Media Watch

An award-winning professor of sport, leadership and governance has criticised her university’s handling of recent redundancies of 170 academic staff, saying a “rethink” is needed.

Professor Lesley Ferkins, director of Auckland University of Technology’s Sports Performance Research Institute and professor of sport, leadership and governance, told RNZ Nine to Noon that AUT’s senior management had lost the trust of staff.

Interviewed by Kathryn Ryan, Professor Ferkins said that if AUT continued on its current path it would “end in absolute disaster’.

Professor Lesley Ferkins . . . current path will “end in absolute disaster”.

She said the university needed to draw on the “collective wisdom” of the academic staff.

Professor Ferkins has kept her job in the restructure, but has written an impassioned letter to vice chancellor professor Damon Salesa and the leadership team denouncing the redundancy process as lacking in transparency sound leadership values.

Last month, Professor Ferkins was named the Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) Distinguished Service Award winner.

Returning to ERA
AUT returned to the Employment Relations Authority today as part of its plans to make 170 academic staff redundant.

Yesterday, after a legal bid by the union representing teaching staff, the authority found the university’s process for issuing redundancy notices was flawed and breached the collective agreement.

It found that volunteers for redundancy should have been called for once specific positions were identified as surplus, but this did not happen.

In a letter to staff yesterday, AUT’s group director of people and culture Beth Bundy said AUT’s view of the findings differed from that of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU).

She said the university would return to the ERA today to seek clarification and hoped to have that by tomorrow.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ. 

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