September 3, 2014 8:46 am

University of Saskatchewan leaders focus on new year

Watch above: new chapter begins at U of S despite some unfinished business

SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is set to begin a new academic year, but still faces challenges stemming from past events, according to one of the institution’s student leaders.

“It’s a fresh start; it’s a new school year,” said Max FineDay, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union president.

“That being said, we still face some significant challenges here at the University of Saskatchewan.”

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The university was consistently in the headlines during the past year: last fall, its medical school was put on probation by a governing committee.

In the spring, the U of S dealt with the firing and re-hiring of outspoken tenured professor Robert Buckingham. This triggered changes in the university’s executive, including the firing of former president Ilene Bush-Vishniac.

The university also dealt with layoffs and protests over their cost-cutting TransformUS process.

The new academic year is marked by the university’s annual orientation and welcome week. FineDay said he had many chances to interact with new students at the event.

“There’s a lot of questions and that’s natural, we did go through a lot of challenging times,” said FineDay, who is entering his second year as student president.

However, he added that students are “mostly committed to making sure that they have a great year and that we move forward.”

One of FineDay’s tasks will be aiding in the election of a new university president. Gordon Barnhart currently sits in the role on an interim basis.

“I wasn’t here a year ago and so it’s all the more exciting, but it’s also challenging,” said Barnhart.

“It’s quite a responsibility as a president to run a good show.”

Barnhart said that there will be a major announcement this month from his office that will set the institution’s direction for the year.

“That will lay to rest, I think, all of those concerns and questions that have arisen in the past,” he said.

Despite the public nature of the university’s issues, some students at orientation day were not worried or aware of the political issues that plagued the institution.

“I wasn’t aware of it,” said a first-year arts and science student from Key Lake, Sask.

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