All Posts Tagged With: "Peter MacKinnon"
Saskatchewan cuts millions while former execs get paid
There’s a bit of panic these days at the University of Saskatchewan. Secretaries who gave decades to the school are now boxing up their desks and students are worried about the quality of their programs as the university chops its way out of a budget deficit projected at $44.5-million by 2016.
In November five administrative staff from humanities and fine arts were fired. Then the university announced the closure of a remote campus,* leaving students in certain disciplines unsure whether they would graduate on schedule. Last week, 40 more job cuts were promised.
Adding insult to injury is that a couple of guys who helped run the university right before this crisis are receiving a combined $1.3-million from the budget after leaving, reports the StarPhoenix. And that doesn’t include pension contributions.
She’s a Jewish-American engineer with research cred
Under President Peter MacKinnon’s 13-year reign, the University of Saskatchewan was transformed from a staid Prairie school into an institution that attracts not only plenty of research dollars for things like the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation and the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, but also a diverse faculty and student population.
That’s makes it unsurprising that the U of S’s new president is a Jewish-American female engineer who has helped lead top research institutions
Ilene Busch-Vishniac, originally from Philadelphia, Penn. has worked for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Texas-Austin, Johns Hopkins University and McMaster University, where she currently serves as provost and vice-president academic.
Busch-Vishniac is an accomplished acoustics researcher and engineering education advocate. In the past, she’s advocated that women don’t need to give up motherhood to have successful careers in academia, encouraged more minorities and women to pursue engineering and worked with the Six Nations in Ontario to increase access to education for Aboriginal Canadians.
It’s not the first time a president has praised a politician
A University of Saskatchewan professor says President Peter MacKinnon’s endorsement of a Saskatchewan Party minister is unprecedented and constitutes an “abuse of power.”
MacKinnon is quoted in a brochure saying: “Rob Norris is the finest minister responsible for post-secondary education that I have been privileged to work with in my (13) years as (president).”
Len Findlay, Director of the Humanities Research Unit at the university, said presidents are required to stay neutral. “It’s a publicly funded institution and it’s a provincial responsibility,” Findlay told the StarPhoeix. “Provincial governments change and the interests of the institution and the public interest is best served by the university not being seen to align itself with one party…”
MacKinnon said there’s nothing wrong with the comment. He said that it’s important to be careful during election campaigns, but the comment was made in a speech before the writ was dropped.
But are such endorsements, even during elections, really unprecedented as Findlay suggests?
Here are some recent examples of how university and college presidents have praised political parties. You be the judge.
In March, University of Guelph President Alastair Summerlee endorsed federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s “Learning Passport,” calling it “absolutely amazing” and “a very, very positive contribution,” reported the Guelph Mercury.
In September, York University President Mamdouh Shoukri said in response to the Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal platform that: ”the goals of having the highest postsecondary attainment rate and most educated workforce in the world are the right ones.”
That same week, Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University, said that the Ontario Liberal’s platform included “the most progressive change in tuition policy I have seen in 40 years.”
And while their words came after the election in October, both University of Manitoba President David Barnard and Red River College President Stephanie Forsyth offered their gratitude to the NDP for promises of new funding that came in Manitoba’s Throne Speech, according to CKNW.
MacKinnon’s comments may be controversial, but such endorsements aren’t unprecedented.
Is seat on uranium company’s board a conflict of interest?
University of Saskatchewan senators want the chair of the Board of Governors to resign because she is also a board member for uranium producer Cameco Corp., reports the StarPhoenix. The handful of senators argue that Nancy Hopkins has a conflict of interest in selecting a new president.
Rumblings began earlier this year when university senator and lawyer Stefania Fortungo suggested that the university’s increasing focus on nuclear research was the result of Hopkins’ influence. ”Any time that the University of Saskatchewan enlarges the role of the nuclear sciences on campus… the share prices of Cameco Corporation correspondingly increase,” she wrote in a letter.
Hopkins called the conflict of interest allegations “absurd” and said that the nuclear research centre was the provincial government’s idea, not hers.
President Peter MacKinnon said the calls for Hopkins resignation are “without any grounds at all.”