uSask appeals decision on presidential tenure veto, seeking clarity on governance

October 20, 2014

The University of Saskatchewan has filed an appeal of an arbitrator’s recent decisionagainst granting the institution’s President the power to veto tenure decisions. According to a press release, uSask is seeking clarification of the decision, which it says suggests that the uSask board of governors' power is derived from the faculty collective agreement rather than the University of Saskatchewan Act. Interim Provost Ernie Barber said, “with the exception of this issue raised in this case, the Act and the collective agreement work together in a system of collegial governance. We want to be certain that the authority of the Act is not eroded. We think there is value in the balance that we have had and we need clarity on this issue to ensure balance into the future.” uSask says that “permanent appointment” as referred to in the Actincludes tenure and that the Act takes precedence over the faculty collective agreement. Barber emphasized that uSask’s position has always been about seeking clarity on governance. uSask Faculty Association President Doug Chivers said, “it seems to me to be a terrible waste of university resources to chase down legal minutiae that could result in further internal unrest, as well as additional scrutiny of the university by the international community over academic freedom.” uSask News Release | StarPhoenix

Postscript: February 7, 2015

The University of Saskatchewan has withdrawn its appeal of Arbitrator Andrew Sims' ruling that the university president should not have the power to veto tenure decisions. uSask had launched the appeal in order to clarify certain principles of governance under the University of Saskatchewan Act. Interim uSask President Gordon Barnhart said that withdrawing the appeal at this point will offer the university the opportunity to allow the new tenure processes agreed upon in the collective agreement to work, as well as leaving open the possibility for a future, principle-based debate. "The university still stands by the collective agreement with the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association and I believe the new processes will improve our ability to deal with future cases," Barnhart said. uSask News Release