U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Professor Jeremy T. Kerr defends the University of Ottawa

While some have complained that tenured university professors too rarely speak out to correct injustices in our society, Professor Jeremy T. Kerr (Biology, University of Ottawa) has recently provided a striking counter example.

Professor Kerr has written a strong formal letter of complaint against radical professor Denis G. Rancourt (Physics, University of Ottawa) to the dean of the Faculty of Science André E. Lalonde.

The dean, in turn, has used the letter to open a formal disciplinary investigation of Rancourt, thereby assuming the responsibility of his position in protecting the University.

If such a category existed, Rancourt would certainly hold the Guinness World Record for the most disciplinary investigations against a tenured university professor. This alone demonstrates the degree to which Rancourt is a menace to society.

Kerr’s letter, the dean’s letter initiating the investigation, and the main exhibit are posted HERE.
Highlights of the Kerr letter are as follows.
Kerr considers Rancourt’s recent open letter to President Gilles Patry (emailed to all professors; pages 3-4 HERE) entitled ‘Executive-ordered campus arrests of community members’ to be a “form of harassment” (against Kerr).

Kerr is concerned that Rancourt’s mailing appears “to waste university network resources”. (Especially if everyone were to print it out, we guess.)

Kerr states “[…] Furthermore, the dripping contempt to which he (Rancourt) routinely exposes his colleagues seems to be irreconcilable with the provisions of the Collective Agreement […]

Kerr continues, “Professor Rancourt’s routine misrepresentation of events cannot be viewed as consistent with any commonly accepted norm of fairness or ethical behaviour. Certainly, his constant disruption of even the most routine matters is beginning to make it difficult to function at the University of Ottawa and I worry this may diminish my capacity to fulfill my workload responsibilities.

Professor Kerr is clearly doing everything he can to ensure that university resources are spent to optimally benefit society. It is comforting to see that the university administration is enthusiastically taking up the challenge proposed by Kerr. When activist professors and the university leadership work together in this way, one can be confident that results will follow.

We trust that the dean’s investigation will corroborate all of Professor Kerr’s statements and help to relieve the professor of the strenuous conditions to which he has been subjected.

[Photo credit: University of Ottawa]


Severin Stojanovic said...

"...commonly accepted norm of fairness or ethical behaviour."

Ah yes, if we could all live up to Professor Kerr's standards, such as the time when he wrote to me (a student at the University) in an e-mail "Have you lost your mind? [...] This approaches idiocy."


Severin Stojanovic said...


Thomas Kerr (No relation) said...

I just read his complaint, and I must say, funny stuff.

The fact that he claims your emails are "beginning to make it difficult to function at the University of Ottawa and I worry this may diminish my capacity to fulfill my workload responsibilities." is completely over the top.

Seriously? Unable to fulfill research because of your email? Unable to teach courses because of your email? Unable to attend lectures/conferences because of your email? Unable to delete your email?

How about all those emails I receive from the University of Ottawa? Would I be able to launch a complaint? I get over 10 emails per week from my Faculty/University. Surely more emails than you send out in a semester.

Wassim said...

I hear La Rotonde wrote an editorial on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Hey severin -- not being able to post a link does little to support the point of view that you are not an idiot.

Just a thought.

severin said...

Well, anonymous, when logic doesn't work, there's always name-calling.

It sure does bring back wonderful memories of childhood! And even of certain professors and chairpersons at the University.

Your bravery under the guise of anonymity is admirable and commendable!

But, just for your info: because the weblink is quite long, the original post had the latter part of it cut off once I posted. Therefore, anyone with half of a brain should have been able to get the full link by combining the first part of the first post with that of the second post. But since then, obviously the webmaster must have made some changes to the site in order that the link is fully displayed in the first post.

I'm sorry, but you lose this time. I invite you to critique something else of mine though. Go ahead, anything you want...