Athabasca University board fires president who fought Alberta government on staff relocations

Athabasca University board fires president who fought Alberta government on staff relocations

Peter Scott, the president of Athabasca University who openly flouted the province’s order to halt the institution’s transition to virtual operations, was fired by the school board on Wednesday.

The Board appointed Alex Clark, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, to succeed him.

Alex Clark was named the new president of Athabasca University on Wednesday. (University of Athabasca)

Byron Nelson, chairman of the board of governors, cited privacy concerns when he refused to say why Scott was fired.

“Everything that happens on the board is confidential, but the university itself, the board of the university, just looks forward to moving forward with an evolving vision,” Nelson said in an interview with CBC News.

“Dr. Scott has contributed his part to the puzzle and we are doing with Dr. Clark to further expand the university.”

Nelson said the university did not conduct a new search for Scott’s successor. Clark, then working at the University of Alberta, was a potential candidate in the hiring process in which Scott became the winning choice. Clark subsequently applied for an interview and was hired as faculty dean months later.

Clark currently resides in Edmonton but will be relocating to Athabasca. Nelson said the requirement to live in the city was written into Clark’s contract.

public fight

Scott became president on January 4, 2022. Shortly after moving to Alberta from his previous job in Australia, he found himself in the middle of a dispute over who should run the university.

A local grassroots organization lobbied the Alberta government about the impact a near-virtual plan would have on the city’s economy.

The government got involved last spring. Former Prime Minister Jason Kenney assured residents of a city hall that the university’s operations would remain in Athabasca. The university’s leadership team was ordered to come up with a plan that would increase the number of staff living in the city.

What ensued was a protracted and at times public battle between Scott and the Minister for Further Education, Demetrios Nicolaides.

Nicolaides fired CEO Nancy Laird and named Nelson, a former Progressive Conservative leader, to succeed her. He revoked the appointment of four board members and replaced them with seven new appointments. He said the university’s failure to come up with a plan could jeopardize its operational funding.

Scott released a defiant video in August declaring that the university’s reversal of the virtual plan would set him back forty years. Nicolaides said failure to submit a plan would jeopardize the university’s monthly operating funding.

After months of negotiations, Nicolaides and the board finally signed a new investment management agreement in early December.

The agreement states that the university must hire 25 local staff over a three-year period and half of the university’s leadership team must live in Athabasca.

Scott’s dismissal by the board comes nearly three weeks after his wife died of cancer. She was only diagnosed in early December.

“It’s awful,” Nelson said. “We have given him some time to take care of it until today.”

“Unfortunately, the business of the world, including that of Athabasca University, is going forward,” he said.

“This was a step we had to take. i will dr Continue to treat Scott with all the respect he deserves and he deserves respect at this time.”

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