June 11, 2019
Report into Centre for Corporate Sustainability publicly released
Findings of independent review affirm President Elizabeth Cannon acted with integrity in all matters
The following are statements from Gord Ritchie, vice-chair, on behalf of the Board of Governors and President Elizabeth Cannon. The report of the Independent Review into the Centre for Corporate Sustainability is now available publicly. Visit the Independent Review website for updated information.
Statement by Gord Ritchie, vice-chair, on behalf of the Board of Governors, University of Calgary
Findings of independent review affirm President Elizabeth Cannon acted with integrity in all matters related to the Centre for Corporate Sustainability
December 18, 2015
On Nov. 6, 2015 the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors initiated an independent review of the Centre for Corporate Sustainability (formerly the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability), from its creation to current operations. The purpose of the review was to examine the circumstances surrounding the creation and operation of the centre and determine whether there was any breach of university policies or procedures then in place or improper conduct in connection with the creation and operation of the centre. The independent review was conducted by Retired Justice Terrence McMahon, Q.C., under Terms of Reference that were made public.
McMahon delivered his report earlier this week to the Ad Hoc Committee of the Board that stewarded the review. The report has now been presented to and considered by the Board of Governors. The board committed to making the findings public and the report is now available on the university’s website.
The report is clear that there were no breaches of university policies or procedures, and no improper conduct by anyone involved in connection with the creation and operation of the centre. While the board is committed to a culture of continuous improvement, we welcome a comprehensive report that upholds the highest level of excellence and integrity of the university, its leadership, and its governance. In particular, the report found “no improper conduct by the university or any of its employees” in its relationship with Enbridge, and states that “none of the involvement by Enbridge ... resulted in any encroachment upon or compromise of the academic freedom of the university or its staff.”
The report also addresses the serious allegations that have been made publicly and through the media about the conduct of President Elizabeth Cannon. McMahon is thorough in his review of the allegations, including conflict of interest concerns, and states: “I conclude unequivocally that Dr. Cannon’s involvement in matters arising from the operation of the Enbridge Centre was proper, responsible, and required of her as president to protect the reputation of the University of Calgary as an institution that honours its commitment to donors.”
The very public and personal attacks on President Cannon’s conduct and character over the past several weeks have been unwarranted, unfair and inappropriate. President Cannon is a person of character, with the highest standards of ethics and integrity, and enjoys the full support and confidence of the governors of the University of Calgary. Under her leadership the University of Calgary has risen to new levels of excellence in teaching and learning, research, and student experience. The university enjoys significant levels of community support — in philanthropy, sponsorship, and volunteer time — and much of this support is tied to the community’s confidence in President Cannon. Our university is now the number one young university in North America. We are fortunate to have one of Canada’s top university presidents at the University of Calgary.
I would like to thank Retired Justice McMahon for his time and commitment in conducting a thorough independent review, and delivering a report which includes such care for confirming the actual sequence and substance of events and actions. I would also like to thank the members of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Board, under the leadership of Mark Starratt, in stewarding the review.
Let us now move on with the work of this great university, and support President Elizabeth Cannon in continuing our Eyes High journey as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2016.
Statement to the University of Calgary community by Elizabeth Cannon, president and vice-chancellor
With the release of the report of the Independent Review of the Centre for Corporate Sustainability, I am pleased that the report stipulated very clearly that there was no improper conduct on the part of the university, or any of its employees, and that there was no encroachment upon or compromise of the academic freedom of university academic staff members. The integrity of our university and its personnel, as well as the protection of academic freedom, are foundational values of our institution.
While a key impact arising from this review is the overall reputation of our university — it has been personally disconcerting to experience speculation that I did something untoward. On this point the report was detailed and articulate — underscoring that my conduct was appropriate and consistent with my responsibilities as president of the University of Calgary.
I am pleased that the report acknowledged that:
- I was not involved in the development of the Enbridge sponsorship agreement nor its operation following the execution of the agreement.
- My communications with the former dean of the Haskayne School of Business with respect to the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability was within my obligation as president to ensure that leadership and academic activity would be put into place for the centre.
- My involvement on the board of the Enbridge Income Fund (a separate enterprise) had been in place since 2003, was consistent with my contract and university policy, was regularly disclosed, and had no connection whatsoever with the sponsorship of the Centre for Corporate Sustainability by Enbridge.
- My involvement in matters arising from the operation of the centre was proper, responsible and required of me as president to protect the reputation of the University of Calgary as an institution that honours its commitments to donors.
I am also pleased that there was no evidence to support the suggestion that Enbridge sought or was granted any inappropriate influence on the academic practices of the university.
Over the years, our university has benefitted greatly through contributions from alumni, community leaders, foundations and corporations. These contributions have amounted to over $650 million during the last five years alone. These funds add value to our institution through financial support to students, new student experience programs, research chairs and programs as well as new buildings and facilities for teaching and research. Combined with our talented faculty, staff and students, these investments have helped propel the University of Calgary to become the top young university in North America.
That we continue to be able to attract such support in the future is vital, and I am pleased that this report reinforces that external funding can benefit the university without compromising the values of our institution.
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the many staff, faculty, students and community members who have provided me with support and encouragement during the review period. The confidence shown to me and our university has been truly inspiring.
Now that this process has concluded, I will again focus on continuing the work of delivering on our Eyes High vision and preparing for our 50th anniversary celebrations. I look forward to working with our university community on this important journey.