uSask “reconsiders” decision on ousted Executive Director

May 16, 2014

The University of Saskatchewan yesterday revised its decision to dismiss the Executive Director of its School of Public Health, Robert Buckingham, for criticizing plans to merge his school with the College of Medicine. Senior leaders have announced that Buckingham “will not return to that leadership position. He will, however, be offered a tenured faculty position.” uSask President Ilene Busch-Vishniac said that “the confusion on this issue stems from differing interpretations based on his contract. Because we hold tenure in high regard, we will immediately reverse that part of our decision.” Busch-Vishniac also clarified that Buckingham was never banned from campus. She added that he was not punished for his opinion on TransformUS, but because “once a decision is made at the institutional level, all senior leaders must publicly conform to that decision or resign their leadership role.” uSask News Release

Postscript: June 2, 2014

The StarPhoenix reports that Robert Buckingham, the former University of Saskatchewan Executive Director who was fired for criticizing the institution’s TransformUS plan, had himself fired staff who were critical of his vision for uSask's School for Public Health. One professor told the StarPhoenix that she was fired on Christmas Eve, not long after challenging Buckingham in a meeting. Another said that shortly after she questioned Buckingham, her name was removed from a list of professors associated with the School of Public Health and students were told that her course would not count toward their degree. Buckingham said he does not regret any of the dismissals. He added that he may have attempted to expand the School of Public Health too quickly under the orders of then-President Peter MacKinnon. The StarPhoenix adds that the school’s accreditation is with a “little-known European agency” rather than the US’s Council on Education for Public Health. StarPhoenix