Statement from Chair of CBU Board of Governors

Cape Breton Board of Governors agree to terms releasing Dr. Wheeler as CBU President

Today, the Cape Breton University Board of Governors voted to accept negotiated terms that release Dr. David Wheeler as President of the University, effective immediately.

In a November 1, 2016 communication to the Board Chair, Dr. Wheeler requested an independent legal review of governance issues between the President and the Board. This request was considered and granted by the Executive Committee. This independent legal review revealed relationship, trust and governance issues serious enough to prompt the Executive Committee to table a resolution to place Dr. Wheeler on a leave of absence with pay, pending a formal disciplinary investigation of the President. That resolution was passed November 21, 2016 by the Board of Governors.

The ensuing disciplinary investigation probed issues including but not limited to the manner in which the recent labour negotiations with CBUFA were conducted at the bargaining table and how those negotiations were subsequently characterized and reported to the Board of Governors by the President. In addition, other concerns were raised regarding strained working relationships within CBU.  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.  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.

During the investigation Dr. Wheeler’s counsel approached the investigating counsel to explore the possibility of avoiding a possible protracted legal dispute, regardless of the investigation outcome. Under the guidance of our Executive Committee, CBU worked out a settlement agreement that reflects reasonable compromise by both CBU and Dr. Wheeler. As a result, the disciplinary investigation was placed on hold pending the Board’s endorsement of the proposed terms of settlement.

Today, the Cape Breton University Board of Governors voted in favor of the agreement that includes a negotiated severance package with Dr. Wheeler, effectively ending his tenure as President of the University. The agreement includes a provision that Dr. Wheeler forego any contractual entitlement to tenure at CBU.

Given that Dr. Wheeler’s departure is a confidential personnel issue that has now been resolved, CBU will not comment further on this matter. Dr. Wheeler has also agreed to refrain from public comment on this issue.

Together with the Executive Committee and our Board, we will now focus our attention on establishing a Search Committee for our new President and building a bright future for CBU.  CBU will continue to operate as usual under the able leadership of Acting President Dale Keefe and our senior management team, with the full support of the Board of Governors.

Ambrose White
Chair, CBU Board of Governors