On Campus

Memorial University presidential search story

Media narrative provides sometimes bizarre coverage

Media play of Premier Williams’ alleged interference in the selection process for a new president at Memorial University of Newfoundland continues. While the media narrative suggests that Williams rejected a recommended candidate, it is pretty clear that no formal recommendation on a specific candidate has been made at this point. Instead, it would appear that the premier is accused of interfering in the selection process (i.e., the work of the selection committee).

In today’s Canadian Press story on the issue, a representative of the university faculty association says that “the controversy surrounding the presidential search could deter promising candidates from seeking the prestigious post and extend an already lengthy process.” I wholeheartedly agree; however, it is also not obvious how leaking this as-yet-unproven allegation to the national press advances the cause of our university.

Another odd item in the media narrative is that the stories about the premier’s intervention in the process have simultaneously acknowledged that the provincial legislation governing the university, the Memorial University Act, gives the Lieutenant-Governor in Council (i.e., the provincial cabinet) the authority to approve the committee’s selection for president.