Provost at the University of Saskatchewan resigns amid a controversy

Professor was fired for speaking out about budget cuts.

SASKATOON — The provost at the University of Saskatchewan has resigned amid a controversy over a professor who was fired for speaking out about budget cuts.

University president Ilene Busch-Vishniac says in a news release issued shortly before an emergency board of governors meeting Sunday night that she has accepted Brett Fairbairn’s decision to quit.

Fairbairn is also the university’s vice-president academic.

The news release says Fairbairn wrote in his resignation letter that he made the decision because of his ‘genuine interest in the well-being of the University of Saskatchewan.”

Robert Buckingham was removed as executive director of the School of Public Health and escorted off campus last week after writing a letter to the government and Opposition New Democrats about an overhaul at the university.

The school later backtracked and offered Buckingham back his tenure position, although it said he wouldn’t be reinstated as director.

Fairbairn noted in his letter that he had been student union president at the University of Saskatchewan from 1978 to 1980 and a faculty member since 1986.

“I believe the work I have done as a student, faculty member, and provost has contributed to the growth of our university’s reputation. The same interests lead me to offer stepping aside from the provost role as the best contribution I can now offer under present circumstances,” he wrote.

Busch-Vishniac thanked Fairbairn “for his dedication and hard work over the years.” She said an interim provost hasn’t been appointed yet.

The university’s decision to reinstate Buckingham came shortly after Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he wanted an urgent meeting between the province and the university board.

Wall said he spoke with the board and its chairman, but did not insist on Buckingham being reinstated.