EngSoc silent on Clark

Bar won’t reopen until September at the earliest

EngSoc Vice President (Operations) Rob Macnamara says the earliest Clark Hall Pub will reopen is September 2008.
EngSoc Vice President (Operations) Rob Macnamara says the earliest Clark Hall Pub will reopen is September 2008.

The Engineering Society won’t release the results of a financial review into Clark Hall Pub’s 2006-07 operations or recommendations for the pub’s reopening five months after its closure.

The EngSoc executive closed the pub indefinitely June 29, terminating all employee and supplier contracts.

At the time, Vice President (Operations) Rob Macnamara and President Charlie Scott cited financial discrepancies, concerns about the pub’s operations and concerns from Clark’s insurers and liquor-licence holder as the reasons for the closure.

In August, two accountants, Hon Lam and Lennox Rowsell, from the firm Collins Barrow Kingston, began conducting a review of Clark Hall Pub’s 2006-07 financial operations.

Macnamara said the accountants’ review is now complete and they provided the EngSoc executive with a letter of recommendation for the bar’s future financial system three weeks ago. He declined to comment on what those recommendations were.

“Their recommendations will be incorporated in the report,” he said, adding that the firm’s letter won’t be made public.

“[They] provided us with a letter of recommendation, with how to make the system more accountable and financially accurate,” Macnamara said. “[The accountants] said, ‘There’s room for improvement.’”

Rowsell declined comment, citing client confidentiality.

Clark Hall Pub won’t reopen until September 2008 at the earliest, Macnamara said.

“We’re hoping it will be open in full capacity at the beginning of next year,” he said

But Macnamara won’t release the details of how EngSoc plans to reopen the bar until at least Dec. 10. In September, the EngSoc executive created the Clark Development Taskforce, hiring five student volunteers to oversee five different areas within Clark that needed to be reviewed: infrastructure, marketing, programming, finances and relations. Team members for each area were recruited from different faculties by e-mailing people who Macnamara and the volunteers thought might be interested.

The taskforce is part of the executive’s three-phase plan to reopen the pub, Macnamara said. The first phase is engaging students, the second phase is planning and the third phase is implementation.

“Right now we’re at the tail end of phase two,” he said. “The teams developed recommendations for their portfolios.”

Those recommendations were submitted to Macnamara at the end of last week. He wouldn’t say what the recommendations were.

“I have to go through that with the EngSoc executive and the [EngSoc] board of directors and the University administration.”

Those recommendations will form the basis for the implementation stage, he said.

Residence and Hospitality Services Director Bruce Griffiths, who holds the University’s liquor licence under which Clark Hall Pub operates, said he wants to see a permanent staff member working with the pub’s management.

“It’s just a question of what sort of person,” he said. “Maybe they don’t need a full-time person. Maybe it’s a half-time person who gets shared with the Tea Room or Science Quest.

“I can’t imagine how else you would do it.”

Griffiths said he thinks the creation of a permanent staff position such as that of AMS Food and Beverage Officer John McDiarmid would help. McDiarmid oversees The AMS Pub Services’ (TAPS) finances.

“AMS has a full-time presence, Grad Club has a full-time presence. It’s not about getting rid of student pubs,” he said.

Planning to reopen the bar in September is a realistic goal for EngSoc, Griffiths said.

“I certainly think it’s possible,” he said. “The pub doesn’t reopen until someone assures me that the type of management issues that caused the closure are addressed.”

Macnamara said the taskforce is looking into the AMS’s permanent staff model.

“It’s a model that works,” he said. “It’s definitely something we’ve been looking into.”

Macnamara said he’s already thinking about transitioning in April to ensure reopening plans go smoothly.

“I’ve been getting my team to start thinking about succession plans,” he said.

After the pub’s closure, several alumni threatened to withhold their donations to the University. Peter Hofman, Arts ’87, took a different approach. He told the EngSoc executive in September that, if the bar was reopened by January, he would leave $100,000 to the Faculty of Applied Science in his will.

If the pub doesn’t reopen by then, however, the money will go to create McGill University’s new Clark Hall Pub Memorial Prize in Art History.

Hofman said he has spoken with people at McGill, who are thrilled.

“All of a sudden it dawned on them disgruntled alumni from other schools are an untapped market for them,” he said.

“I sort of threw it out there as a motivation tool, so to speak, and it seems [EngSoc has] not been motivated.”

Hofman said he will wait to see what the taskforce’s plan is when Macnamara releases his report the week of Dec. 10.

—With files from Anna Mehler Paperny

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