Wednesday, 13 March 2013

University Senators question legality of Susan Milburn’s position on U of S Board of Governors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 13, 2013. 

SASKATOON – Several University of Saskatchewan senators are questioning the legitimacy of new Board of Governors Chair Susan Milburn’s continuing membership on the Board, pointing out that the appointment of Ms. Milburn as the chair is fundamentally flawed according to University of Saskatchewan Act, 1995, c. U-6.1.

Senator Stefania Fortugno, a practising lawyer in Saskatoon, explains,
     In 2011 with Milburn's second and final term as Senate representative on the Board soon to expire, the Board requested that the Government appoint Milburn as one of its five appointees to the Board. However, the Government chose to appoint other individuals.
     There was a second option:  the Government was asked to amend the University’s governing legislation to enable Senate Representatives (Milburn) to serve a third term.  The legislation has not been amended.
     Milburn's maximum term expired June 30, 2012; she was granted an extension for the time being.   And yet on March 5th the Board made her Chair until 2016, four years beyond the maximum set out in the Act.
     Our argument is that the University is without doubt subject to the laws of Saskatchewan.

Knowing that Milburn’s term as a Senate-elected representative on the Board would officially expire on June 30, 2012, a new representative should have been elected at the April 2012 Senate meeting.  The Board, wishing to retain Milburn’s services in the interests of continuity, recommended to Senate that the position be left vacant for the interim while waiting for the government to address the issue. The motion was met with some opposition at Senate but passed with the understanding that this measure would be temporary and the position would be filled in 2013.

Because of her status as a provisional senate representative, a number of senators were surprised to find that on March 5, without Senate consultation, it was announced that Milburn had been selected to chair the Board until 2016. This means Milburn is expected to remain on the Board a full four years beyond her legally prescribed term as Senate representative, according the Act.  

Concerned senators ask: for how many years will the Senate be prevented from electing an appropriate representative to the Board?  The current situation requires that the Board of Governors and the Senate intentionally, actively and knowingly circumvent the Act. In Fortugno’s opinion, “This is not an example of good governance. This decision represents a failure to respect legal and democratic principles, including the rule of law.”

Susan Milburn’s skills and contributions to the University are not in question, say the senators. The law, as set out in the University Act must be respected.  The Senate needs to elect someone who can legitimately represent the Senate on the Board of Governors. This is an opportunity for the Board to uphold its legal integrity and to act on its  recently proclaimed commitment to transparency and good governance.


Please see appended information package.

Media Contacts:  Mary Jean Hande                                                Sandra Finley
  U of S Senate Member at Large                            U of S Senate Member at Large
  647-458-5326,    250-248-3526,           


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