University president leaves after union deal investigation

Cape Breton University’s board denies departure is related to specific terms of the agreement made between David Wheeler and the faculty union  

December 13, 2016
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The president of a Canadian university has left his post after being suspended over a tentative agreement with the institution’s faculty union.

Cape Breton University’s board of governors voted to David Wheeler leaving with immediate effect in an agreement that includes a negotiated severance package and a provision that the former president forgo any contractual entitlement to tenure at the university.

The board also voted down the tentative agreement that the university administration had reached with its faculty union, according to CBC News.

An independent investigation into Dr Wheeler’s conduct during recent labour negotiations began last month, after the former president tentatively agreed a new 10-year strategy that included no layoffs with the faculty union.

The agreement was made after union members gave their negotiating team a strike mandate and applied for conciliation after a month of negotiations to avoid the possible layoff of about 20 of the union’s 45 members because of a budget deficit.

While Dr Wheeler’s departure was related to the “manner in which the recent labour negotiations” with the union were conducted “at the bargaining table” and how they were “subsequently characterised and reported to” the board, the university denied that the dismissal had anything to do with the specific terms of the deal.

“Contrary to some media reports, the steps taken by the board had nothing to do with the specific terms of the proposed collective agreement with CBUFA [Cape Breton University Faculty Association],” the chair of the university’s board of governors said in a statement.

“In response, Dr Wheeler assured the board that he felt he was acting in good faith at all times, and that he was confident in his ability to fully answer the board’s concerns.”

It added that the university will be led by acting president Dale Keefe until a new president is appointed.

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