No plans for public inquiry, says U of S President Gordon Barnhart
Interim president says firing of tenured professor is being investigated internally
The interim president of the University of Saskatchewan says there are no plans to hold a public inquiry on the dismissal of professor Robert Buckingham.
Buckingham was fired as Head of the School of Public Health and as a tenured professor for speaking out against a university cost-cutting program two weeks ago.
Shortly afterwards, Buckingham was offered his job as a professor back, but not before the university was criticized by academics across the country.
Last week, Provost Brett Fairbairn resigned over the matter, and President Ilene Busch-Vishniac was dismissed.
Interim president Gordon Barnhart says there are no plans to publicly examine what happened, although internal discussions are currently being held.
"Certainly we've been looking at the steps that were taken, and what some of the problems were, with a determination to make sure to make sure those mistakes aren't repeated," he said.
Board of Governors meeting
The aftermath of the Buckingham affair was only one topic of discussion at a two day meeting of the university's Board of Governors.
The board is also attempting to get the TransformUS restructuring plan back on track.
While the university is currently in the black, it's estimated the U of S will have a projected deficit of 44 million dollars by 2016.
Barnhart hopes the restructuring process will be less painful than in the past.
"The board is now saying, 'It's time to start to refocus again on the strategic planning or the financial sustainability, but also making sure that we've got it correct in providing the best education for our students,'" he said.
The TransformUS plan has come under fire from both faculty and students over the past year. The plan would consolidate many programs, and could potentially shut down some others.
Some faculty are also dubious of the university's projected deficit, calling the number inflated.
Barnhart says the board is examining the projections, but says crunching the numbers will take time.
"We had a close look at it at the board level [Monday], but we're not yet in a position to say, okay, this is exactly where we're at," he said.
Barnhart says one of his main roles will be mending relationships between administration and students and faculty.
"My goal is to try and heal some wounds," he said. "I would like to think the relationship is healthy and strong now. I don't think I've had as many hugs on campus in the last couple of days."