Faced with criticism over allowing government intervention in Memorial University’s search for a new president, Gil Dalton, chair of the search committee and the university’s board of regents, announced last week his decision to bow out when his term expires on Oct. 15.

Memorial’s quest for a new president has been rife with controversy since Labrador education minister Joan Burke effectively vetoed two top candidates for the position after the search committee invited him to interview the candidates.

Documents obtained through freedom of information act requests show that Dalton had encouraged the interview so as to probe the candidates’ political stance on issues surrounding government, according to the CBC.

Memorial University Faculty Association and Canadian University Teachers’ Association had protested the government’s involvement. They argued that it would discourage competent candidates from applying for the presidency, and undermine the university’s autonomy.

The search has since been suspended.

Provincial law makes the university’s presidential appointments subject to approval of the cabinet, although the province’s role has been mostly a formality in the past.

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