September 9, 2008

Minister and Memorial Acting President Address University Autonomy

The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education and Memorial University�s Acting President, Dr. Eddy Campbell, said today that autonomy and reputation are vital to a university�s fulfillment of its commitment to the society it serves. Minister Burke and Dr. Campbell met yesterday to discuss the important matter of university autonomy.

"An independent university allows for the free expression of diverse ideas as well as the teaching of ideas and concepts that challenge the status quo and do not conform to particular ideologies," said Minister Burke. "As a government, we have never intervened in the autonomy of Memorial and endorse the practice of the university to conduct research that challenges important organizations or people and encourages informed debate within a respectful environment."

Universities throughout Canada and elsewhere operate at arm�s length from government, adhering to legislation that prescribes appropriate government oversight and accountability while ensuring openness and transparency.

Dr. Campbell explained that the university and the Provincial Government have many shared goals and objectives, exhibited through governance and various partnerships.

"The role of the Provincial Government in governance is expressed through its selection of 17 of 30 members of the Board of Regents, and through the several approval processes set out in the Memorial University Act," said Dr. Campbell. "In addition, the university and government work together on a wide variety of initiatives, including the government�s White Paper on Post-secondary Education and Innovation Strategy and the freeze on tuition fees. Our strategic plans are in alignment � an alignment that is intentional and important."

Minister Burke and Dr. Campbell noted that Memorial is essential to the social, scientific and economic development of the province and to the preservation and enhancement of the province�s culture and heritage.

"Our funding of the post-secondary sector is the best investment that can be made to assure the future prosperity of the province," said Minister Burke. "We continue to make education a priority by increasing funding to the public post-secondary system and outlining our strategic direction for post-secondary education, through initiatives such as the White Paper."

Memorial�s graduates are recognized around the world for their abilities and accomplishments, which allows the province�s employers to compete on a global scale. The institution is responsible for the great majority of all research and development conducted in the province. Dr. Campbell and Minister Burke concluded that the Provincial Government and the university continue to believe in a strong and vital partnership and that the university continues to expect to be held accountable to the Provincial Government and by extension, to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the Board of Regents.

NOTE: Media Advisory: Statement Issued in Error

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Media contacts:

Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 689-2624
Victoria Collins
Executive Director, Division of Marketing and Communications
Memorial University

2008 09 09                                                          11:45 a.m.

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