N.L. education minister shuffled after Memorial controversy

Faculty had accused minister of violating the school’s autonomy in search for pres

Newfoundland and Labrador’s education minister has been shuffled to a newly created government department after she became embroiled in a controversy surrounding Memorial University’s presidential search.

Joan Burke will become the province’s minister of child, youth and family services, a cabinet position created during last month’s throne speech.

Premier Danny Williams said Burke’s move came because of her accomplishments and experience during her time as education minister, and had nothing to do with her involvement in the search for Memorial University’s president.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that nothing would be further from the truth,” he said.

Some Memorial University faculty members accused Burke of violating the school’s autonomy after she said last year she personally interviewed and rejected two candidates for the school’s top job.

Burke and Williams have denied allegations that they infringed on the school’s autonomy.

Darin King, the new education minister, avoided answering reporters’ questions whether he would become as involved as Burke in the university’s current presidential search until Williams responded.

Williams said it was the school’s board of regents that asked for the government’s involvement during the last search.

“This time it is my understanding we will not be asked, nor will we be seeking to be involved in interviews, and if we are asked, we will not get
involved,” he said.

Since his government was first elected in 2003, Williams’s cabinet has grown from 13 to 17, an increase he said was necessary.

“We’ve expanded it not because of a preference just to bring people into cabinet, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “It’s to try to deal with the massive duties and obligations that we have.”

– The Canadian Press