Flawed hiring process blamed for $235,000 severance ‘scandal’

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Concordia University has paid former executive Sonia Trudel $235,000 in severance – or the equivalent of one year’s salary – though she left her role after just 90 days.
 
A chartered professional accountant, Trudel joined Concordia on 17 August last year to help handle budget cuts, and proceeded through a succession of important roles, first as special adviser to the university president, then as chief financial officer.
 
By 16 November, Trudel had “stepped down by mutual agreement” according to documents obtained by The Link Newspaper, taking her severance with her.
 
Trudel was also entitled to insurance and access to a ‘professional development or scholarly research allowance’ of $5000 for 60 days, as well as ‘transition assistance’.
 
Concordia said it hired Trudel because it was “impressed by her experience”, which included working for public institutions that had faced similar funding cuts.
 
Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota was not as forthcoming about the reasons for her departure. “We honored the terms of her contract – that’s all I can say.”
 
President of the Concordia University Faculty Association Ted Stathopoulos told The National Post he was “surprised” by the size of the severance payout. “That’s too much money for someone why stayed for just three months,” he said.
 
Concordia’s Part-Time Faculty Association president Dave Douglas agreed, but went further, saying Trudel’s quick exit was actually “quite scandalous”.
 
Douglas firmly blamed the hiring process for the very public candidate failure, saying questions had to be asked about how that process was undertaken.
 
“It seems there was a fundamental problem that somehow was not addressed in the hiring that quickly made the position untenable. I certainly wouldn’t want to repeat that process, “ Douglas said.
 
Concordia University has declined to comment to date on whether a flawed hiring process led to Trudel’s recruitment for the role, as well as her early departure. The university has also failed to explain the reasons for the costly departure.
 
University president Alan Shepard would not comment on the severance package details in an interview last Friday, but described Trudel’s departure as amicable.
 
Under Quebec labour law employers should provide up to eight weeks of pay, depending on how senior the employee was within the organisation, though this requirement does not apply for someone who leaves before three months.

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