May 15, 2014 3:54 pm
Updated: May 15, 2014 9:14 pm

Fired dean is offered new position at University of Saskatchewan


SASKATOON- Dr. Robert Buckingham could soon be back working at the University of Saskatchewan after being fired for speaking out against TransformUS.

On Thursday morning, the university released a statement saying part of a decision it made regarding Buckingham has been reconsidered and reversed.

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“Academic freedom and tenure are sacrosanct at the University of Saskatchewan. This case, however, is not about academic freedom. Dr. Buckingham was removed from his executive director position for acting contrary to the expectations of his leadership role,”Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac, president of the U of S President said in the statement.

“Dr. Robert Buckingham, who was terminated from his position on May 14, will not return to that leadership position. He will, however, be offered a tenured faculty position.”

Global News was there as Dr. Buckingham read the release, the first he had seen of it, as he had not been contacted directly by the university. On Wednesday morning, Buckingham said he was fired, stripped of his tenure and escorted off campus after raising concerns about an overhaul taking place at the U of S to bring down the university’s operating budget deficit.

“I think it’s a great step in the right direction, I look forward to discussions with the Provost and exactly what it means I don’t know yet but certainly I’m glad they’re reconsidering their termination order to me,” said Buckingham.

Buckingham says it’s too soon to say whether he’ll take the offer or not but is open to the possibility.

“I think it’s reasonable for me to [be] considering that.”

According to Buckingham’s termination letter, the university cited a breach in his employment after he released a document entitled “The Silence of the Deans” and attachments including an internal email.

This was the university’s response yesterday to the matters: “The university doesn’t comment on individual personnel matters, I guess I can say generally that when we hire and assess people we do that on the basis of their job contracts. For deans, the job contracts involve expectations of confidentiality and of leadership compliancy so once we hire people we expect them to perform those responsibilities.”

Buckingham says he wrote the document to vent his frustrations after being told in the disclosed email that he was to support TransformUS.

“I just don’t like being told obviously that I can’t speak against something which I believe is wrong,” said Buckingham.

At the time, Buckingham says he thought we would be reprimanded for his actions and was prepared to give his reasons for what he did. He said what he didn’t expect was to be terminated or to be escorted off campus yesterday morning like he was.

“I have no ill feelings towards the university, I would love to end my time here on a positive note, maybe we’ve all learned some lessons from this. The most important thing is we continue to talk and make progress.”

If Buckingham accepts the position, it will be for the short-term. His time at the University of Saskatchewan is scheduled to end on July 1st, 2014.

The issue has made its way to the provincial Legislature where Premier Brad Wall spoke to the situation following question period.

Wall called for an urgent meeting between the province and the board of the university over the firing.

The University of Saskatchewan is expected to address the situation Thursday afternoon.

With files from The Canadian Press



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