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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2012

York Scraps CIGI Deal

After faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School cast an overwhelming vote April 2 against a partnership with Jim Balsillie’s private think tank for an international law program at York University, the university announced it was abandoning the initiative.

“By cancelling its deal with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), York University did a service to itself, taxpayers and potential benefactors,” reads a letter from Osgoode professors Gus Van Harten and Stepan Wood that was released to the media. “The deal would have channelled public and private funding to the university through an external gatekeeper, with unprecedented strings attached.”

The letter goes on to state that “private funders must recognize there are important limits to what they can request in exchange for money. Serious academic institutions must ensure the limits are respected.”

Previously, some 300 faculty members at York had signed an open letter calling for changes to the collaboration as it allowed CIGI officials “unprecedented influence over the university’s aca­demic affairs.”

CAUT’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee had recommended that CAUT’s council begin censure proceedings against the administration of York for its abandonment of academic integrity in giving CIGI undue sway over academic decisions for the proposed program.

“We’re glad this badly-flawed deal didn’t go forward,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “It’s a sad commentary that York’s administration had been willing to give a third party control over academic decision-making, rather than making clear, as other universities routinely do, that while it welcomes donations, academic issues are not subject to a donor’s approval.”