University Affairs – the magazine and website – is published by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. While this relationship means I am privy to some of the inner workings of the association, one thing I have no insider knowledge of is membership applications.
AUCC studiously avoids comment on whether an institution has applied for membership and generally I learn of a successful application at the same time as everyone else, i.e., when the association sends out a press release. So, for example, when AUCC announced back in October that the Canadian Mennonite University had been accepted as an institutional member of AUCC (along with Kwantlen Polytechnic University), I had to go look it up on the Internet to discover more about it.
So I was a bit surprised to read an article in Tuesday’s Calgary Herald in which the president of Calgary’s Mount Royal College, David Marshall, announced very publicly that an official AUCC delegation would be visiting the college next week to consider whether to admit Mount Royal as an AUCC member. He proclaims in the article that Mount Royal is “99.9 percent there” in its quest to become a university. Going further, in today’s Calgary Herald, an editorial claims the approval process is “just a formality.”
While I wish the college well in its quest, these membership applications are not a slam-dunk and I think a little discretion might be in order. What if the college doesn’t succeed? That would be embarrassing.
Since Canada has no national accreditation system, membership in AUCC, along with a provincial university charter, is generally considered equivalent to university accreditation. Among the criteria for membership, the institution must have an independent board of governors; the authority for academic programs vested in the academic staff; a majority of its programs at the university level; and a proven record of scholarship, academic inquiry and research. You can view full membership eligibility criteria here.