Monday, 29 August 2011

Neil Jones' response to SP article "Senators want board chair to step aside"

President for all

In the story, Senators want board chair to step aside (SP, Aug. 17), University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon says "Universities' relationships with corporate donors are long term, and typically involve university staff, not board directors."
I see this as intentional obfuscation.
The issue here is that Nancy Hopkins, in chairing the Presidential Search Committee, plays a central role in the selection of the most powerful member of university staff. She also has a pecuniary interests in Cameco of more than $1 million. As such, she has a clear interest in serving the corporation through her committee's eventual choice.
Mackinnon and Hopkins also seem to have given up on the idea of the university as a primarily publicly funded institution. Hopkins calls this vision "unrealistic," and MacKinnon insists that serving corporations (his "communities") is "inevitable."
This is liable to be a selffulfilling prophecy. When a university stops lobby-ing for public funding and opts instead for corporate "donations," the door is open for governments to withdraw support.
Under MacKinnon the U of S has effectively taken the stance that public funding is no longer valued. We need a new president who will reverse this stance, and insist upon a restoration of public funding for academic institutions.
The next U of S president should be someone who values public say in the direction of research and education and who sees the university as primarily serving the interests of all Saskatchewanians - not just corporations.
Neil Jones