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Former U of S president launches multi-million dollar lawsuit

Watch above: The former president of the University of Saskatchewan is suing for wrongful dismissal. As Joel Senick tells us Ilene Busch-Vishniac is looking for more than $8-million ‘relief’.

SASKATOON – A former University of Saskatchewan (U of S) president has filed a lawsuit after being fired last year. Ilene Busch-Vishniac’s lawyer confirmed Wednesday she is pursuing legal action.

The former president is seeking roughly $8.5 million in total damages related to her termination.

The university says when Ilene Busch-Vishniac’s presidency was ended, she accepted 18 months salary in compensation and a tenured faculty position as agreed to in her employment contract.

“The university has fully complied with its legal obligations towards the former president and has acted prudently in the governance of the institution,” said U of S board chair Greg Smith.

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“We have instructed our counsel to challenge the claim in the strongest possible way.”

The lawsuit lists the U of S, as well as 12 individuals as defendants. These include members of the university’s board at the time of her firing, Premier Brad Wall and Saskatchewan’s former advanced education minister Rob Norris.

READ MORE: Professor fired for speaking out against TransformUS

The statement of claim alleges the two members of government improperly pressured the board to terminate Busch-Vishniac. The lawsuit claims she has been unable to secure similar employment at other universities due to the actions taken by the defendants.

“Dr. Bush-Vishniac has suffered shock, embarrassment and other injury as a result of the Defendants’ wanton and reckless conduct,” according to the lawsuit.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Last year, dean Robert Buckingham spoke out against the university’s cost-cutting initiative TransformUS and was fired on May 14, 2014. It was announced that Busch-Vishniac was terminated from her position as president on May 21, 2014.

The lawsuit states the firing of Buckingham was not instructed by Busch-Vishniac and that TransformUS was both a board and university initiative.

Currently, Gordon Barnhart is U of S interim president.

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Joel Senick contributed to this story