The hunt for a new leader at Memorial University has taken a new turn with news that the man who has led the process is leaving his post next month.
Gil Dalton, the chair of the university's board and head of its presidential search committee has told the university he will not be reappointed by the province when his term ends Oct. 15, a spokesman for the university confirmed yesterday.
Mr. Dalton's departure paves the way for the province to appoint a new leader to take over the troubled search process. The government has yet to indicate who the new chair will be or how quickly it will make the appointment.
The search for a new leader at Memorial came to a standstill earlier this year after the province stepped in and rejected the candidate chosen by the board. That candidate, acting president Eddy Campbell, has since withdrawn his name from the competition. While the rules governing the university give the province the power to approve the appointment of a new president, those involved in recent searches say that approval has been a formality. The province's involvement in this most recent search has sparked a national debate in university circles regarding academic independence.
Mr. Campbell, who has spoken out on the importance of autonomy for the university since withdrawing from the competition, met last week with Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams and the Minister of Education Joan Burke, in what he characterized yesterday as an effort "to open the discussion," regarding the province's role in the governance of the university.
"What we need to clarify is what role our government will have in the presidential search process," he said in an interview.
Asked about his future with Memorial, Mr. Campbell said he has assured the university he will continue in his role until at least August.
Ross Klein, president of Memorial's faculty association, who also met with the minister last week, said it is not clear if she understands why her involvement in the search has sparked outrage among the Canadian academic community. This summer, following a report in The Globe and Mail regarding the province's role in the search, Ms. Burke confirmed that she had interviewed and rejected two candidates for the job.
"I don't think she felt anything they did was problematic," Prof. Klein said.
He said Mr. Dalton's departure, while not unexpected, adds to the uncertainty surrounding the presidential search.