’utterly without substance’

USask president fights back over claims he unduly interfered in dean selection process

Top administrators at the University of Saskatchewan fired back against accusations that they dismissed the top choice of the search committee for the new dean of law at a University Council meeting on Jan. 27.

According to the StarPhoenix, members of the committee were “furious” after university president Peter MacKinnon ignored the committee’s choice and pitched his own candidate, University of Alberta law professor Sanjeev Anand, who was approved by the university’s board of governors.

At last week’s meeting, MacKinnon said he was only informed of the accusations through the StarPhoenix article, according to campus newspaper The Sheaf.

“I was under the mistaken belief that if members of the faculty association executive felt [negative towards our hiring practices], they would have communicated such to me [ … ]” before making such a “scathing” public accusation, MacKinnon said. He also called the charge that top university administrators hold all decision making power in the university “utterly without substance”.

Brett Fairbairn, U of S university provost and vice-president academic, accused the StarPhoenix of being inaccurate, and told the council “we really should not be relying on the StarPhoenix as a source,” though he would not comment on specific inaccuracies in the Jan. 21 article.

MacKinnon explained the board of governors only makes its own decision on new appointments when the search committee can’t come to an agreement, which Fairbairn told the Sheaf was the case in the decision to appoint Anand.

Chair of the search committee Jim Germida declined to comment on the accusations and stated that MacKinnon and Fairbairn’s accounts should be accepted as fact.