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Education University of Regina's leadership is narrowly affirmed

University of Regina.

A motion to hold a vote of non-confidence against the president and provost of the University of Regina failed by a single vote at a special meeting, affirming the school's leadership by the narrowest of margins.

Council members voted 135 to 134 on Friday afternoon, with three abstentions and one spoiled ballot, against holding a secret ballot vote over the next 10 days.

That ended the chance of a formal withdrawal of confidence by faculty, but left the campus divided over the direction in which its most senior administrators have steered it.

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The university's president, Vianne Timmons, and provost, Thomas Chase, have faced a rising tide of discontent among faculty, about 60 of whom signed a petition that called Friday's debate at the University Council, which is made up of permanent professors and some students.

After Friday's meeting, Dr. Timmons pledged to hold a town hall within a month to discuss lingering issues raised by the motion, and the university's board of governors reaffirmed its support for her.

"My biggest concern when I saw that divide is that I have to pull the campus together," Dr. Timmons told reporters.

"I have a lot of work to do to address the concerns of the people who voted for the motion."

Concerns about financial management at the university, which has suffered two straight years of 3-per-cent budget cuts, grew more severe after a series of embarrassing scandals emerged this year.

Most recently, it was revealed that two staff members had been paid more than $377,000 in unearned overtime over an 11-year period, and that a research venture for studying carbon capture backed by millions of dollars in public funding was scuttled by improper governance and questionable spending.

Faculty had also expressed concerns that non-academic jobs and costs had risen at the expense of academic priorities over the last decade, especially since Dr. Timmons took over as president in 2008.

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"It's not a victory, and it's not a defeat, not for anybody," said Susan Johnston, a professor of English who helped spearhead the petition and sought a non-confidence vote.

"I think what you have here is a campus that is hurt, … a damaged campus."

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