In May, in an incident not covered in O’Kane’s survey, the president and provost of the University of Saskatchewan were forced out of their positions after they fired a dean for being openly critical of their cost-cutting plans. The dean, Robert Buckingham, was also a tenured professor, and the outcry by faculty and students over his abrupt termination led to the resignation of Provost Brett Fairbairn and the firing of President Ilene Busch-Vishniac. A news report on her firing in Saskatoon’s Star Phoenix notes that her being “fired without cause” represented “an unprecedented move for a Canadian university” (Hill). An interim president was named, and Buckingham was re-instated to his faculty position. But the university “never launched an independent or public investigation into the events that ended Busch-Vishniac’s and Fairbairn’s leadership careers, [and] both continue to work at the university as professors” (Hill).
In April, the provincial government of Nova Scotia considered a bill called the Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act, which would allow “the minister to ask for financial statements and to verify the sustainability of a university’s financial operations” and “allow universities that face severe financial difficulties to implement revitalization plans that suspend collective agreements and ban strikes for up to 18 months” (Chiose). Although the universities in the province were facing millions of dollars in deficits, critics argued that the bill was “unconstitutional, [infringed] on institutions’ autonomy, and [violated] academic freedom” (Chiose). Catrina Brown, president of the Dalhousie Faculty Association, stated: “’If research and scholarly work need to be in line with the strategic direction, socially and economically of a government, that interferes with what is known as academic freedom’” (Chiose).
Chiose, Simona. “Cash-Strapped Schools Could Ban Strikes with New Bill.” Globe and Mail [British Columbia Edition] 30 Apr. 2015: A, 6.
Hill, Andrea. “Firings ‘Bumps in the Road’: Barnhart.” Star-Phoenix [Saskatoon, Saskatchewan] 21 May 2015: A, 4.
Previous Posts in the Series:
Post 1. Canada—University of British Columbia [Part 1]: https://academeblog.org/2016/04/24/global-survey-of-academic-freedom-issues-in-2015-post-1-of-a-series/.
Post 2. Canada—University of British Columbia [Part 2]: https://academeblog.org/2016/04/25/global-survey-of-academic-freedom-issues-in-2015-post-2-of-a-series/.
Post 3. Canada—University of New Brunswick: https://academeblog.org/2016/04/26/global-survey-of-academic-freedom-issues-in-2015-post-3-of-a-series/.
Post 4. Canada—Capilano University: https://academeblog.org/2016/04/30/global-survey-of-academic-freedom-issues-in-2015-post-4-of-a-series/