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Ontario’s universities are trying to assemble a toolkit to help their leaders navigate the delicate, sometimes controversial funding deals they broker with wealthy private donors.

The Council of Ontario Universities will launch a working group of senior administrators to explore the best ways to protect academic freedom and help donors understand it, an idea with increasing urgency as private funding proliferates and the terms of giving undergo a noticeable transformation.

The new effort begins in the wake of fierce debates over the parameters of several major private donations to universities, one of which has led Carleton University to try renegotiating a contract...

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