York U guarantees academic freedom in approval of joint international law program with CIGI

March 2, 2012

A senior committee at York University has approved an initiative to launch a $60-million public-private partnership with Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) for a joint program in international law. The plan includes new provisions addressing concerns raised by some law professors about York U's ability to keep research and hiring decisions free from potential interference by CIGI, whose founder and chair is BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie. While the professors and the Canadian Association of University Teachers have expressed concerns that a York U-CIGI advisory committee would have a say in hiring and areas of research, the chair of York U's senate says the guarantee of academic freedom signed by the university and CIGI appeared to put to rest any such worries among committee members. The initiative to hire 10 research chairs and enrol 20 graduate students is to be funded by $30 million from the Ontario government and a further $30 million from CIGI when that runs out, plus up to $3 million fundraised by the university. Toronto Star