Last week the Provost fired Robert Buckinham, the Dean of Public Health, from his tenured position for disagreeing with the policies of the rest of the university administration, specifically the Provost and the President. They want to disband the Faculty of Public Health and the Dean disagreed and protested the attempt to muzzle him. Two days later the President offered Buckingham a tenured position and admitted that a terrible blunder had been committed on her watch.
The Provincial Minister of Advanced Education, Rob Norris, called the emergency meeting of the Board of Governors in order to determine if recent events at the University of Saskatchewan had violated the "University of Saskatchewan Act." He spoke to the Board at their 8pm meeting then addressed the press. According to CBC News ....
The province's minister of advanced education, Rob Norris, spoke at the closed-door board meeting.The Provost's letter of resignation states that he is resigning because it is likely to be in the best interests of the university. The following quotations from the letter of resignation come from University of Saskatchewan Provost, VP academic resigns.
He emerged after about an hour, and spoke to the media before leaving for his constituency office.
Norris said he spoke to the board about his continuing concerns "regarding compliance with the University of Saskatchewan Act, and also what I see and what we see as a deepening controversy — if not crisis — regarding the national reputation and international reputation of the University of Saskatchewan.
"That reputational damage that continues is of very deep concern to us," Norris added.
One section of the act requires senior administration to report to the board before the dismissal of suspension of individuals, "so there are real questions about the substance of that kind of report process, especially given, and in light of the reversal that took place, and some of the commentary around that reversal," Norris explained.
He left it to the board to consider whether it had breached the act or not.
...Around midnight, board chair Susan Milburn emerged, and told reporters both the board and the administration have complied with the legislation.
"... my motive for offering my resignation is my genuine interest in the well-being of the University of Saskatchewan."Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but that doesn't sound to me like someone who admits to a terrible blunder.
"I believe the work I have done as a student, faculty member, and provost has contributed to the growth of our university’s reputation."
"The same interests lead me to offer stepping aside from the provost role as the best contribution I can now offer under present circumstances."
The Board of Governors is receiving legal advice from their lawyers before determining what to do next. It's pretty obvious that they are thinking about whether Ilene Busch-Vishniac should keep her job. (It's also pretty obvious that she shouldn't.)
Many members of the faculty have called for Busch-Vishniac to be fired as soon as possible but in situations like this the Board will probably wait to see if she does the same honorable thing that the Provost did.
Jim Miller. As reported in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix [Emergency board meeting called for weekend; prof calls for president to be fired].
Jim Miller, a U of S history professor and Canada Research Chair, has written to Milburn imploring her to "terminate" Busch-Vishniac and Provost Brett Fairbairn for their "egregious" actions.Meanwhile, the situation gets more complicated because the Board of Governors previously gave Ilene Busch-Vishniac the power to unilaterally review tenure decisions at the university. What this means if that she can veto the decision reached by the candidate's peers on the tenure committee and the subsequent approval by the Dean. The Chair of the Faculty Association, Doug Chivers, says that this is a violation of their collective agreement. Watch the interview with Doug Chivers at: U of S board meets, discusses leadership at the university. It seems clear that the faculty have lost confidence in the Board and the President.
He said booting the administrative members would be "a first step" in restoring the university’s tattered reputation.
"It certainly wouldn’t do it by itself, but it would clear the decks to let someone who has a more consultative and collegial style come in and provide leadership," Miller said.
He was adamant the board needs to dismiss the president and provost with cause and deny them severance pay.
"It would be an outrage, it would upset everyone all over again, if they discovered that the president was simply asked to resign and walked away with a huge severance payment," Miller said. "It would continue to inflict more harm on the university and undermine the public’s confidence in the institution."
Miller added that the board needs to take a serious look at TransformUS, which he said has been "contaminated" and "discredited" by Buckingham’s claims that it was agreed upon only after staff were coerced and intimidated.
"The whole business of TransformUS is undermined and it should not be proceeded with in the near future," Miller said.
The university board of governors is made up of 11 members — including Busch-Vishniac, one student and one faculty member — who oversee the university’s management, administration and handling of financial affairs.
This is the 4th is a series of post on this issue. The other are:
The Provost and the President of the University of Saskatchewan made a mistake
Robert Buckingham rehired at the University of Saskatchewan
Ilene Busch-Vishniac should resign immediately as President of the University of Saskatchewan