The acting president of Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador withdrew his name as a candidate for the position on Friday with a caution that there should be no outside interference in the selection process for the next university president.Eddy Campbell says he will continue in his role as acting president and is asking for a meeting with Education Minister Joan Burke to discuss his concerns about keeping the selection process free of interference.
“Autonomy is vital if a university is to fulfill its commitment to the society it serves,” he said in a statement released by the school in St. John’s.
“Our independence allows for the conduct of research no matter who is made uncomfortable or unhappy by the results. It allows for the teaching of ideas and concepts that challenge the status quo and do not conform to particular ideologies.”
The opposition parties and some faculty members at Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university have criticized the provincial government for politically interfering in the work of a presidential search committee at Memorial.
Earlier this week, Burke said she rejected candidates for the job after personally interviewing them.
Under provincial law, the cabinet has the authority to approve or reject the search committee’s selection for president, though approval has long been considered a formality. In some other provinces, such as Nova Scotia and Ontario, universities do not need the approval of their provincial governments to select incoming presidents.
A report last weekend in the Globe and Mail also accused Premier Danny Williams of rejecting a search committee’s recommendation for the next president. His office has denied he interfered and Burke said it was her decision alone to interview candidates.
She defended her intervention, saying the government has a leadership role to play at the school.
– The Canadian Press