On Campus

Another chapter in Memorial's controversial presidential search

Memorial University board chairman to step down from presidential search

One of the people at the centre of Memorial University’s controversial search for its next president will remove himself from the process next month, a spokesman for the school said Monday.

Gil Dalton won’t renew his term as chairman of Memorial University’s board of regents and presidential search committee after Oct. 15, when it was set to expire, said university spokesman Ivan Muzychka. Dalton did not return messages seeking comment.

Memorial’s presidential search has been shrouded in controversy since it was revealed this summer that Education Minister Joan Burke personally interviewed and rejected two candidates for the job. The school’s faculty has accused the provincial government of violating Memorial’s autonomy, but the government denies the allegation.

Last week, after speaking with Burke, the Canadian Association of University Teachers sent a letter to Dalton outlining its concerns with his role in the presidential search. “University autonomy is always precarious and must be strongly protected by those in leadership positions in the university community,” the association wrote last Wednesday. “We are not sure what the tradition has been at Memorial in past presidential searches, but the board chair inviting the government into the process, even obliquely, puts Memorial’s autonomy at risk.”

The university is now asking the provincial government to amend the law that gives the cabinet the authority to approve or reject the school search committee’s selection for president.

But Premier Danny Williams has rebuffed calls to change the law.

In many other provinces, universities do not need the approval of their provincial governments to select incoming presidents.

– a report from the Canadian Press

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