Sask. University president has 'no regrets' removing prof from director post
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 16, 2014 8:24AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 16, 2014 11:59AM EDT
The University of Saskatchewan president says she has "no regrets" about removing a tenured professor from his position as director of the School of Public Health after he spoke out against budget cuts at the school.
Ilene Busch-Vishniac said there's an expectation that the university's leadership will publically stand behind the decisions made by the school. She said while faculty members are guaranteed academic freedom and are encouraged to speak freely about their opinions, there's an expectation that the school's leaders will express their opinions privately.
"The difficulty here is that while faculty members have the right to academic freedom, faculty members do not have a right to be leaders and deans," Busch-Vishniac told CTV's Canada AM on Friday. "So when one chooses to becomes a dean, it's not that your opinions disappear, but it's the expectation that your opinions will be expressed privately, and that when a decision is made you will, as a leader, lead the implementation of that decision and not publically oppose it."
The school came under fire earlier this week after Prof. Robert Buckingham was fired after he wrote a letter to the government and Opposition New Democrats opposing budget cuts at the university.
In his termination letter signed by provost Brett Fairbairn, Buckingham was told: "You have demonstrated egregious conduct and insubordination and have destroyed your relationship with the senior leadership team of the university."
On Thursday, the school reversed the decision and offered Buckingham a tenure faculty position, but not his original director post.
"This was mishandled, absolutely. We made an error. But I have no regrets whatsoever at removing Dr. Buckingham from his position in leadership of the School of Public Health," Busch-Vishniac said. "But he certainly should have not been terminated from a tenured faculty position."
Busch-Vishniac said Buckingham has not yet accepted the position, but she pointed out that he has not yet received the offer in writing.
"These things take a few days," she said.