Canadian university president resigns

May 24, 2002

A controversial Canadian university president best known for requiring undated letters of resignations from senior staff has resigned after a job-cutting budget was overturned.

Jacquelyn Thayer Scott gave no reason for relinquishing the top job at the University College of Cape Breton, but her decision to return to faculty work came three weeks after the budget she proposed was defeated by governors.

"There is genuine surprise around the campus," said faculty association member Peter McIntyre.

Professor Scott has a reputation of being unafraid of a fight. Four years ago, she required newly hired deans to sign letters of resignation. If they stepped out of line, she would be free to take out the letter and put that day's date on it.

Last year she sent a disciplinary letter to a professor who had publicly questioned her credentials. David Mullan wrote to the local newspaper questioning her office's claim that she had "authored numerous articles and books". She said the criticism was improper and ran contrary to his employment responsibilities.

Professor Scott might have taken the budget defeat as a vote of no confidence even though governors explicitly stated that it should not be regarded as such.

As president, she created 16 new institutes and raised more than C$35 million (£15.4 million) for much-needed maintenance. But her tenure will be marked by a management style that many academics disliked. "I hope Cape Breton can just go back to being a boring place on the east coast," Professor McIntyre said.

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