The Saskatchewan Star-Phoenix reports that the University of Saskatchewan has hastily reversed parts of its decision to fire Director of the School of Public Health Dr Robert Buckingham for publicly criticizing the administration and given him his tenure (though not his Deanship) back. This is welcome news.
Serious questions remain.
University of Saskatchewan president Irene Busch-Vishniac has issued a statement complaining that the U of S received “inaccurate and undeserved” criticism from across Canada after Buckingham’s firing.
“The debate that is raging,” she says, “confuses Dr. Buckingham’s former role as executive director of the School of Public Health with the academic freedom associated with of a tenured faculty member. In his role as an administrator at a level that removes him from the faculty association, Dr. Buckingham is not only permitted but encouraged to have opinions that might disagree with those developed by top administrators. However, once a decision is made at the institutional level, all senior leaders must publicly conform to that decision or resign their leadership role.”
No, Dr Busch-Vishniac, it was you and your cronies who “confused” Professor Buckingham’s roles by depriving him of tenure as a punishment for stepping out of line as an administrator. And the whole world knows it. Thanks to social media.
Perhaps you and others in universities tempted to use disciplinary procedures to close down free and open debate over issues of public concern might think twice next time.