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Dismissal mystifies Camosun College president

Camosun College president Kathryn Laurin said her sudden dismissal was “completely unjustified” and even she is unclear of the reasons behind it.
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Camosun College president Kathryn Laurin said her sudden dismissal was “completely unjustified” and even she is unclear of the reasons behind it.

Camosun College president Kathryn Laurin said her sudden dismissal was “completely unjustified” and even she is unclear of the reasons behind it.

After shaking hands with students at three convocation ceremonies on June 20, Laurin was called into a meeting with two board members and “they informed me that my contract would be terminated,” Laurin said, in a phone interview from Spain where she’s on holiday.

Laurin, 56, said she was quiet and took some notes during the brief meeting with board chairwoman Marilyn Pattison and vice-chairman Russ Lazaruk.

“Then they left and I left and I called my lawyer,” Laurin said. “That was about the extent of it.”

It was just days before her second five-year contract was about to start on July 1.

Laurin was asked to hand in her phone, clear out her office and was locked out of her work email, which she said contains important emails about the health of her mother, who suffers from dementia.

Laurin said she had a previous meeting with board members “about some concerns” but she wouldn’t go into details about those concerns, deferring to the board chairwoman to explain.

Pattison and Lazaruk both said they can’t give the reasons for the dismissal because it’s a confidential personnel matter.

“They were certainly surprising to me,” Laurin said, adding that before her second term was renewed in January, she went through a stringent review process that included interviews with many stakeholders.

Laurin said her dismissal was classified as “not for cause,” meaning she didn’t do anything illegal. “The rationale is a bit unclear,” she said.

An email was sent to the college community on Monday, saying Laurin “will be leaving the college to pursue other opportunities, effective September 1, 2014.”

Laurin came to Camosun College from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax in 2009, replacing Liz Ashton.

Laurin said she was looking forward to five more years of heading the college, which recently secured provincial funding for a $30-million complex for trades, education and innovation due to open in September 2015.

“We were about to enter a capital campaign to raise money for our trades building,” she said.

“I was completely committed to that.” Laurin also planned on doing a refresh of the strategic plan outlined five years ago.

“My plans were very much forward looking,” she said.

Laurin will receive a severance package, but the board would not say what that will be.

She said she and her husband have made Victoria their home and she’s not sure of her next steps.

Laurin is on vacation until the end of July and is on administrative leave in August, so she will not be returning to the college.

Peter Lockie, the college’s vice-president of administration and chief financial officer, will serve as interim president while the board of governors searches for a replacement.

kderosa@timescolonist.com