May 16, 2014 03:47 AM EDT
University of Saskatchewan Welcomes “Fired” Professor Back; Offers Tenured Academic Position.
University of Saskatchewan officials rescinded the decision to ban Prof. Robert Buckingham for life from campus.
Describing their actions as a big mistake, the University officials have decided to reinstate Buckingham only to his tenured academic position. The professor's role as the dean of the School of Public Health will not be returned to him.
Buckingham was fired Wednesday for speaking against a restructuring plan called TransformUS.
In a letter titled "The Silence of the Deans" to the Provincial government and the Opposition New Democratic Party (major social democratic federal political party in Canada), Buckingham said that the university president Ilene Busch-Vishniac asked senior leaders not to openly oppose the TransformUS. If they did, their tenure would be abridged.
"... we are sorry for the action we took, and apologize to Dr. Buckingham for dismissing him from the university. We accept that we made a blunder and we hold tenure in the same high regard that everyone does throughout the world," said Busch-Vishniac, CTV News reports.
"We will be doing a post-mortem to figure out how we ended up in this awkward position, to fix it and to make sure it never happens again."
Busch-Vishniac further said that school was not attempting to silence the professors. Academic leaders like deans have the freedom to differ with the proposed changes, but in private. And once a decision has been taken, senior leaders of the university are expected to support it.
TransformUS, the restructuring plan, launched last month attempted to solve an estimated $44.5-million shortfall in the school's operating budget by 2016. The plan featured cutting jobs, restructuring the administration and dissolving some programs in an attempt to save $25 million. It also proposed School of Public Health to be merged into the College of Medicine; a move Buckingham feared would risk the school's recently-secured international accreditation.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers termed the firing as a humiliation not only to the University of Saskatchewan, but also to the post-secondary education across Canada.
"Firing a dean and tenured full professor because he publicly disagreed with your plans for the university is an intolerable attack on academic freedom and proper university governance," said association director James Turk, National Post reports.
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