Turning the page

    A sit-down with STU’s interim president

    Bailey White – The Aquinian

    Cochrane in his office on top of McCain Hall. (Alex Solak/AQ)
    Cochrane in his office on top of McCain Hall. (Alex Solak/AQ)
    Cochrane in his office on top of McCain Hall. (Alex Solak/AQ)

    Dennis Cochrane’s tenure at St. Thomas will be brief, but the interim president’s to-do list is long.

    Atop it is a lofty project: rebuild faculty-administration relationships.

    “The whole labour question is one that I have to devote a fair amount of attention to… It’s no secret to anyone there was a lockout and a lot of upheaval at the institution as a result of that labour unrest,” Cochrane said.

    “There’s still wounds there that need to be healed, there’s no doubt about that.”

    St. Thomas’ faculty association, FAUST, is due to start collective bargaining with the administration in June. Cochrane says that before that happens he’ll be working to resolve any conflicts or hard feelings still festering since the faculty lockout-turned-strike.

    “It’s (a challenge) that has to be dealt with very effectively and I think with some sensitivity,” he said. “People who are used to working side by side are now on opposing sides. People who saw things the same way now see things differently. People who spoke to one another at one time no longer do.”

    A lifelong educator and administrator, Cochrane knows his way around post-secondary education. He’s served at all levels of government, been a teacher, a principal, and a district superintendent. At the provincial level, Cochrane was the deputy minister of education in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

    “My background in having dealt with a lot of people and organizations over the years can’t hurt,” he said. “I’ve dealt with people for a long, long time.”

    Cochrane has other goals, too. The university’s board of governors is still considering a Miramichi campus and there’s a myriad of regular business the president oversees day to day. But Cochrane says lingering labour issues need to be resolved so students don’t see a break in classes like the one in 2008.

    “What we have to do is get over that and work toward the relationship we want to have between the administration and the faculty for the benefit of the students. And I’m encouraged by what appears to be a willingness of everybody to kind of turn the page”



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