University of Saskatchewan leaders to hold emergency meeting

The University of Saskatchewan's board of governors is gathering for an emergency meeting tonight following the firing and partial reinstatement of the Dean of the School of Public Health last week.

Board of governors gathering tonight for an emergency meeting following Robert Buckingham matter

A sign outside of the University of Saskatchewan on May 16, 2014. (CBC)

The University of Saskatchewan's board of governors is gathering for an emergency meeting tonight.

The meeting follows the firing and partial reinstatement of Prof. Robert Buckingham, former dean of the School of Public Health, last week.

Buckingham, who held a tenured position as the head of the school, was fired on May 14, after he spoke to CBC News the night before about a public letter he wrote criticizing the university`s cost-cutting, restructuring plan, named TransformUS.

The following day, the University of Saskatchewan said it would restore Buckingham's tenured academic position, but would not reinstate him as head of the School of Public Health.

University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac issued a public apology to Robert Buckingham. (CBC)
Buckingham told CBC News he was greeted by campus security guards and escorted off campus when he came to work the next day. He said he would be stripped of his tenure for speaking out.

“The confusion on this issue stems from differing interpretations based on his contract," U of S President Illene Busch-Vishniac said. "Because we hold tenure in high regard, we will immediately reverse that part of our initial decision.”

Busch-Vishniac also said Buckingham was not banned from the university and told media she was sorry Buckingham felt his tenure had been taken away.

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris demanded answers from the university about Buckingham's firing, and sent a letter to the board of governors.

Professor calls for dismissal of President and Provost

Jim Miller, U of S research chair in Native-Newcomer Relations and a professor of history, said the situation has sparked outrage and dismay throughout the university's internal community.

Miller told CBC News he has written a letter to the board's Chair, Susan Milburn, and copied several members of the board and other professors in the letter. Miller said he has asked the school's leaders to dismiss Busch-Vishniac and Provost Brett Fairbairn and stop the implementation of the TransformUS plan.

"They reacted to his public criticism by attempting to fire him unlawfully," Miller explained.

Miller said the sentiments expressed in his letter represent the feelings of many academics at the U of S.

Dr. Jim Miller is a Research Chair and History professor at the U of S. (University of Saskatchewan News)

"There are an awful lot of people who are in the same view that I am and there is going to be an enormous amount of unhappiness if they don't consider our views carefully," Miller said.

Miller said he knows of other professors who have written similar letters to the board of governors. However, he said no one has gotten any response from Milburn.

The University of Saskatchewan confirmed that its leaders will meet tonight at 8 p.m. CST to discuss the situation. The meeting is private and members of the public will not be allowed. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.