A pivotal event in the history of the U of S has come to be known as
“the University crisis of 1919.” The
matter became public on June 28 when the Star
announced that four members of faculty had been fired without explanation. They were Samuel Greenway, Director of
Extension; R.D McLaurin; Head of Chemistry; Ira MacKay, Professor of Law; and
L.J. Hogg, Head of Physics. All were senior members of faculty with many years
of experience. The affair had started
in March of that year when Greenway had accused President Murray of falsifying
a report about University finances.
This complaint had been made to the government and not to the Board of
Governors. In early April Council voted
27 to zero “affirming its confidence and loyalty to the President” while four
members abstained. Three of those who
abstained plus Greenway were dismissed as the Board put it, “in the best
interest of the University.”1
The public and the press clamoured for an explanation. When one was not forthcoming, calls for a
public inquiry were loud and persistent.2 In accordance with the University Act, the Lieutenant Governor assumed the role of Visitor and
through the office of the King’s Bench held a series of hearings. The Visitor’s report was delivered in April
of 1920 and vindicated the Board’s decision saying it was “regular, proper and
in the best interest of the university.”
The Professors were not protected by tenure but were employed “at the
pleasure of the board.”3
Their act of disloyalty was enough to cost them their jobs.
President’s Office fonds, RG 2001, Series I.
of the Visitor. Miscellaneous
Collection, MGM 100.
1919b: Saskatoon Daily Star, May 1, 1920. J.E. Murray fonds, MG 61,file B1.
1919c: The University Trouble. J.E. Murray
fonds, MG 61,file B1.
1. Hayden, p.
& Hanson, p. 218-223.
3. Judgement of the Visitor, Statutes of the
University of Saskatchewan, 1920.