Donor control challenged in university fund agreement

publication date: Aug 29, 2012
The debate on the subject of controversial major funding deals to Ontario universities has been fuelled by a donor agreement to Carleton University that some see as undermining its academic independence, reports James Bradshaw in The Globe and Mail.

In a 2010 donor agreement, oil magnate Clayton Riddell pledged $15-million to Carleton to start a new political management program. It established a five-member steering committee - two appointed by Mr. Riddell's charitable foundation, two by the university, and one jointly selected - with power to "approve the budget, the selection of adjunct faculty and staff, and to participate in the faculty hiring decisions." 

The Canadian Association of University Teachers was quick to condemn the terms. "As soon as the public sees that places in universities can be bought, or that influence can be purchased, then the public would rightly question what's different about a university than anyone else," said CAUT executive director Jim Turk.

Recognizing that universities' shifting attitudes towards donor input come at a time of enormous financial pressures, the Council of Ontario Universities will launch a working group to explore the best ways to protect academic freedom, while helping donors to understand it.

The university announced August 28 that it had rewritten the controversial clause, The Globe and Mail reported.

Read the background article here and the rewrite announcement here.

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