Thursday, May 15, 2014

Robert Buckingham rehired at the University of Saskatchewan

Apparently, some sane person at the University of Saskatchewan had a talk with the President and informed her that she was in very deep doo-doo [see Ilene Busch-Vishniac should resign immediately as President of the University of Saskatchewan].

According to CBC News: Robert Buckingham offered tenured role at Saskatchewan university after firing.
The University of Saskatchewan said today it will offer Prof. Robert Buckingham a tenured faculty position but he won't be returning to his old job after he was fired for speaking out against the school's cuts and restructuring plans.

In a news release, the university says Buckingham won't be given back his job as head of the university's School of Public Health.

“Academic freedom and tenure are sacrosanct at the University of Saskatchewan. This case, however, is not about academic freedom," U of S president Ilene Busch-Vishniac said in the release. "Dr. Buckingham was removed from his executive director position for acting contrary to the expectations of his leadership role.”

Buckingham was fired Wednesday morning for criticizing the institution's budget cuts as part of the TransformUS restructuring plan.

“The confusion on this issue stems from differing interpretations based on his contract," Busch-Vishniac said. "Because we hold tenure in high regard, we will immediately reverse that part of our initial decision.”

Busch-Vishniac also said Buckingham was not banned from the university.
Interesting. I assume that "differing interpretations" is a euphemism for "we really screwed up and I hope this will make it go away."

Good luck with that. She admits that her decision needs to be "reversed" and that means she made a very, very, serious mistake.

The Provost should resign (or be fired) today and so should the President. We all know where the buck should stop.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Tedds has a column in today's Globe & Mail that gets it exactly right [When you're a university dean, 'toe the party line' isn't your job].
The role of a dean, such as Dr. Buckingham, is to provide leadership for and protect the integrity of their unit. Dr. Buckingham did exactly that in his criticism of the university regarding the treatment of his unit through the TransformUS process. I expect that his actions were likely met with a great deal of support from his unit, as well as from many academics across this country who wish their deans were equally courageous. In the eyes of many academics, the only ones who ‘damaged the reputation’ of the University of Saskatchewan were those complicit in attempting to censor senior academic staff and the firing of Dr. Buckingham. After all, the University of Saskatchewan is a public institution, supported by taxes and student payments. Debates regarding its management of these resources should be held openly and freely in the public sphere.


  1. Given that these large-scale 'restructuring', layoffs and subsequent stealing of pension funds is hallmark of US banking industry-led big corporations, I find it ironic that the signer of the firing letter (Brett Fairbairn) spent his life preaching about the merits of co-ops and credit unions. Given his research interests, he should have been the first person to speak out against the restructuring.

  2. My urge is to call these power-wielding, ideology-driven, vindictive public servants "fascists". Or do I go beyond the pale?