University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac says she has no plans to resign, despite mounting pressure from students and faculty over a controversial restructuring plan.
"I came here to accomplish some things. I think we've been making some progress on them," Busch-Vishniac said Tuesday. "The board has voiced its support on the directions we've been taking."
The university's administration has been in hot water since Prof. Robert Buckingham was fired last week. Buckingham had his tenure restored the following day, but not his administrative job as dean of the School of Public Health.
"I think we need to continue the course," she said. "We may slow down a bit, we may change directions a little bit, but we certainly need to keep moving in the general direction we've been heading."
Student protest planned for Tuesday
Students at the University of Saskatchewan are planning a mass demonstration this afternoon calling for Busch-Vishniac's resignation and to draw attention to the controversial TransformUS restructuring plan.
Students are raising their concerns through a rally on campus.
'Brett [Fairbairn] has been made a sacrificial lamb.' —Nick Marlatte, University of Saskatchewan student
"I think there has been a lot of turmoil on campus that's really been poorly guided," Nick Marlatte said. "It's been incredibly difficult for students to organize on campus just given the fact that studies get in the way and a lot of different aspects, especially in terms of how the TransformUS process has been carried out, has not been accommodating to that."
Marlatte said students are upset that the university is not listening to students and faculty in the TransformUS process.
TransformUS is a plan to reset spending priorities and find $20 million in savings in an attempt to head off a $44.5-million deficit that is expected by 2016.
On Monday night University of Saskatchewan provost and academic vice-president Brett Fairbairn suddenly resigned just prior to an emergency meeting of the board of governors. Marlatte said students still want to pressure the board of governors and senior administration until president Busch-Vishniac resigns.
"We're really unsatisfied with the fact that Brett [Fairbairn] has been made a sacrificial lamb in this," he said. "It's a broader group of people within the senior leadership that's actually been tainting the university's reputation."
This isn't the first time students have rallied to protest TransformUS. A similar rally — before the Buckingham affair — was held on May 1.
Faculty holds emergency meeting
Some members of the university's faculty association executive aren't happy about Monday night's meeting.
One item not discussed Monday night was the demand by the association to rescind a board decision giving the university president a "veto" on tenure decisions.
Doug Chivers, chair of the faculty association, called an emergency meeting for this morning.
"Essentially what the board of governors has done by giving the power to the president is to make her the judge, jury, and executioner all at once," Chivers said. "She's the final arbitrator in any sort of decision making. And that is just simply a ridiculous state of affairs."
Chivers said Busch-Vishniac's veto power is an attack on academic freedom.
"The board has to deal with this immediately. They can't put this off," Chivers said. "They need to make a very clear statement to tell the people of Saskatchewan why it is the board of governors is above the law."
"This is a public institution with public money and you have a board of governors that does things in secrecy," he said.
Chivers said if the faculty association doesn't get a response from the board of governors, legal action may be pursued.
"There is absolute outrage among the faculty on this campus," Chivers said. "That cannot be understated."