Returned U of S Prof. Robert Buckingham gets hero's welcome

Robert Buckingham, the University of Saskatchewan professor who was briefly stripped of tenure after criticizing a restructuring plan led by adminstrators, received a hero's welcome Wednesday when he returned to campus.

Students, faculty and staff congratulate professor for speaking out

Prof. Robert Buckingham was the dean of the U of S School of Public Health from 2009 until May 14, 2014. He lost that post, but had his academic tenure restored. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Robert Buckingham, the University of Saskatchewan professor who was briefly stripped of tenure after criticizing a restructuring plan led by administrators, received a hero's welcome Wednesday when he returned to campus.

"People basically wanted to shake my hand for speaking up and speaking out, and these are people and students and faculty and staff," Buckingham told Carol Off of CBC Radio's As It Happens. "It has been overwhelming for me."

Buckingham was fired one week ago after releasing a letter expressing criticism of TransformUS, a process developed by officials at the U of S to reorganize the university — and reduce costs. 

Buckingham, who was dean of the School of Public Health, was quickly rebuked for speaking out. He was fired, lost tenure and escorted away from the university by campus security.

Days later, U of S president Ilene Busch-Vishniac said officials had made a mistake in ending Buckingham's tenure, calling it a "blunder." He was offered his teaching position again with tenure restored. But he was not returned to his role as dean.

Despite the unsettling experience, Buckingham said he does not carry a grudge against Busch-Vishniac or Provost Brett Fairbairn.

"I have no ill feelings toward him even though he fired me," Buckingham said. "Nor do I have ill feelings toward the president of the university. I love this university. Brett Fairbairn is a good man."

While Buckingham is back in class, Fairbairn is no longer with the university. He tendered his resignation on Monday.