New president has to repair U of S reputation

Moose Jaw Times Herald - Editorial Staff
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The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has been lauded as the premiere post-secondary institution in the province for years.

It’s the only school in the province home to medical, dental, veterinarian, pharmacy and law programs.

Presently, however, none of that seems to matter.

Following a string of controversial events that began with the firing of Dr. Robert Buckingham, who was the dean of the School of Public Health, included the resignation of provost Brett Fairbairn and the rehiring of Buckingham as a tenured professor, and ended with the firing of president Ilene Busch-Vishniac, it’s obviously been a tough stretch for the U of S.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the board of governors noted it had been “a painful week for the University of Saskatchewan. Many students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the U of S, and the people of the province generally, were dismayed by news emerging from the campus over the last seven days. The board was deeply troubled by this situation and committed itself to repairing the university’s reputation.”

The appointment of Dr. Gordon Barnhart, a former Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor, as acting U of S president will soothe some of the wounds that the university inflicted upon itself. It was a move Minister of Advanced Education Rob Norris applauded Thursday.

That said, will students, including soon-to-be high school graduates from Moose Jaw, continue to flock to the institution in the wake of recent events?

Yes, they certainly will. But that is beside the point.

This whole mess shows the corrupt leadership the U of S was operating under and it’s going to take a lot more than the appointment of Barnhart to fix that.

The school’s board is expected to meet May 26-27. Before Busch-Vishniac was axed, leadership was to be reviewed at that board meeting.

Leadership will still likely be discussed, but in light of Busch-Vishniac’s dismissal, the focus of that discussion could instead revolve around the process of hiring a new president for long-term stability.

If the U of S wants to restore its reputation, which we are sure it does, its new president — whenever he or she may be hired — will have plenty of work to do to compensate for recent events.

All editorials are written by the Times-Herald editorial staff.

Organizations: School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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