Saskatoon is the home of what has long been considered one of Canada’s best universities. These are tough times on most Canadian campuses, but the situation at the U of S is becoming a horrible nightmare.
Transform Us is the catchy name the administration has attached to the process of cutting many millions of dollars to balance the budget. As you might expect, it has been brutal, but not many senior academics are daring to speak out.
A notable exception is Dr. Robert Buckingham, a distinguished graduate of Yale who has been Dean of the School of Public Health since 2009. A few days ago, the good doctor was fired and threatened with being stripped of his tenure for daring to criticize the university in a letter. It carried the provocative title Silence of the Deans.
The letter described a meeting that was chaired by the president of U of S last December. He warned all deans and department heads to take one for the team and keep their mouths shut about the restructuring.
When he showed up for work last week, Buckingham was met by security guards who barely stopped short of frog marching him back to his car. He was told to stay off university property. The university says Buckingham signed a contract in which he promised to sing from the same song sheet as everyone else, but no one should be surprised that it didn’t happen.
Much as they might be criticized for hiding in their ivory towers, the best and the brightest at our universities are betraying the young minds that they’re helping to educate when they allow themselves to be muzzled. It remains to be seen if Dr. Buckingham will go quietly. If he doesn’t, and it becomes a very public legal battle, then the University of Saskatchewan will lose even more than it has already.
And I thought the radio world was ugly !
I’m Roger Currie