U of S President Fired Over Dismissal of Tenured Professor Controversy (UPDATE)


The board of governors at the University of Saskatchewan has fired Ilene Busch-Vishniac, apparently without cause, from the position of the school's president and vice-chancellor, effective immediately. Busch-Vishniac will, however, continue to be a lecturer at the University's College of Engineering.

Gordon Barnhart, the former lieutenant-governor of Saskatchewan, is appointed as the interim president.

"Dr. Gordon Barnhart is an excellent choice as interim President for @usask...Thank you to the board for this decision," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall tweeted.

The termination of Busch-Vishniac comes after her decision to dismiss a tenured professor for openly critiquing a restructuring plan. Robert Buckingham was later allowed to return to campus after Busch-Vishniac admitted that the firing was a "blunder". The University reinstated Buckingham only to his tenured academic position, but his role as the dean of the School of Public Health was not returned. Provost Brett Fairbairn later resigned for playing a part in the botched firing of Buckingham, reports.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protestors including students, staff and alumni held a violent demonstration, seeking Busch-Vishniac's resignation, the Globe and Mail reports.

"The board feels strongly that the university's ongoing operations and its reputational rebuilding efforts will be more effective with new leadership," the board said in a statement.

"It was a painful week for the University of Saskatchewan. Many students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Saskatchewan and the people of the province generally were dismayed by news emerging from the campus over the last seven days. The board was deeply troubled by this situation and committed itself to repairing the university's reputation."

TransformUS, the restructuring plan, at the centre of the controversy was launched last month in an attempt 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 with the College of Medicine; a move Buckingham feared would risk the school's recently-secured international accreditation.

Prior to her appointment at the University in 2012, Busch-Vishniac was provost at the McMaster University in Hamilton for five years.

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