Ilene Busch-Vishniac, former University of Saskatchewan president, sues over dismissal

The former president of the University of Saskatchewan Ilene Busch-Vishniac has filed a lawsuit over her dismissal, claiming more than $8.5 million in damages.

Premier Brad Wall, former Minister Rob Norris named in $8.5 million suit

Former U of S president Ilene Busch-Vishniac has filed an $8.5 million lawsuit over her firing last year. (CBC)

The former president of the University of Saskatchewan, Ilene Busch-Vishniac, has filed a lawsuit over her dismissal, claiming more than $8.5 million in damages.

Premier Brad Wall and the former Minister of Advanced Education Rob Norris are named as defendants, along with the University of Saskatchewan and its Board of Governors. Individuals who served on the board at the time of Busch-Vishniac's dismissal are also named.

Busch-Vishniac's contract was terminated without cause just over a year ago, amid a public firestorm over a cost-cutting plan called TransformUS, and controversy over the firing of Professor Robert Buckingham, who wrote a provocative commentary entitled Silence of the Deans.

In her statement of claim, Busch-Vischniac alleges the premier and the minister unlawfully interfered in the university's business by influencing the board's decision to fire her as president. She was moved to a faculty position, which she describes as a "significant demotion."

She also alleges the university acted "capriciously and arbitrarily" in terminating her contract, and violated its own by-laws.

MacKinnons and Silence of the Deans

The statement of claim also contains allegations against Busch-Vishniac's immediate predecessor, Peter MacKinnon and his wife Janice MacKinnon, although the couple are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.

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She alleges the MacKinnons "orchestrated" the Silence of the Deans document.

Busch-Vishniac also claims the university's actions defamed her, and have made her "unemployable as a senior executive in a university or other setting."

The allegations have not been proven in court.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Janice MacKinnon wrote "the allegations are simply untrue".

The premier issued a statement saying he is "confident that the actions taken by himself and by former Minister Norris during this series of events were completely appropriate and in the best interests of the university and the province."

He said neither he nor Norris will comment any further because the matter is now before the courts.

The U of S said in a written statement that it has fully complied with its legal obligations towards Busch-Vishniac, and it will "vigorously defend against the claim".