External PR help for new uCalgary president questioned

June 4, 2010

The University of Calgary has hired an outside public relations firm to help engineering dean Dr. Elizabeth Cannon transition into her new role as the institution's president -- a decision some are questioning, especially as uCalgary faces a $14.3-million shortfall. The student union president says she is very concerned about the firm's hiring, the mystery around its total costs, and how it will affect students. A spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation questions why additional communication work needed to be contracted out when uCalgary's media relations teams has 24 employees. A uCalgary spokesman says the communications department needed the extra support following the departure of the vice-president of external relations in March. The president of uCalgary's faculty association says the hiring may be justified in light of the VP's departure; "however, given the financial situation the university is in right now, it needs to be very careful about taking on any such costs." Calgary Herald