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

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Ethically challenged" Allan Rock U of O mistake was avoidable

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
--George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

Allan Rock began his mandate as president of the University of Ottawa in July 2008.

In the short time since his arrival at 'Canada's university', Allan Rock has
  • unilaterally declared that his plan for the University of Ottawa was to "put [it] in the service of the world"
  • fired a tenured professor who was never heard by a committee of his peers
  • installed the regular use of trespass against professors and students
  • installed the regular use of criminal charges against activist students (E.G.)
  • personally gone after and deregistered and banned student Marc Kelly
  • banned a student Israeli Apartheid Week poster (E.G.)
  • personally attacked a student research group (OPIRG) for its principled stance on Israel
  • steadfastly covered up at least two known campaigns of university covert surveillance against students and a professor
  • ousted the University Secretary and installed an outsider as VP-Governance
  • financially committed the university to promotion of Canada's war in Afghanistan via "Project Hero" without any community consultation
  • increased university central administration costs by 30% (Report)
  • increased executive salaries by 30% last year alone (Report)
  • supervised the greatest damage to the university's reputation in the institution's history (Coulter fiasco)
  • pushed through a corporate-style fiscal restraint plan using outside experts (at a cost of over $160, 000) rather than using the traditional collegial governance model (Report)
Could this have been predicted? And if so, what was the selection committee thinking?

For example, one member of the selection committee that gave 'Canada's university' Rock was physics professor Gary Slater. Dr. Slater is an accomplished scientist and a previous recipient of the institution's Researcher of the Year Award. One would have expected Dr. Slater to have done a little research about Mr. Rock.

Did the selection committee know that Allan Rock had overrun the gun registry budget by 50,000% (fifty thousand percent)? Or that he had paid two million dollars of tax payer money to Brian Mulroney? Or that he had left 60,000 Canadians infected with hepatitis C from tainted blood without reparation on the basis of the year they were infected?

Did Dr. Slater ask himself why Mr. Rock's once still promising political career came to an abrupt end in 2003 after which he was shuffled off to the UN to reinvent himself as a champion of human rights? (For example by changing Canada's longstanding foreign policy on Israel from abstaining on human rights resolutions for Palestine to being one of the few countries in the World that vote with the US and Israel against UN human rights resolutions for Palestine.)

If Dr. Slater posed this research question then he discovered what the media discovered in 2003: That Allan Rock is "ethically challenged" - Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 2003, page 1.

In the words of CanWest News investigative reporter Norma Greenaway:
"[Rock's] behaviour since the Irving affair became public has revealed him to be ethically challenged."
"it took Rock days to apologize. And he only grudgingly did so after Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw rose in the Commons and offered an unqualified apology for accepting a ride on the Irving corporate jet three years ago. She also announced she was reimbursing the family for the flight."
In 2002 when the then Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson discovered that Minister Rock had in summer 2001 accepted a private jet stay at the Irving family salmon fishing lodge, he issued a ruling that Rock was to avoid all ministerial dealings benefiting Irving enterprises for one year. During that blackout year Rock made three significant ministerial decisions benefiting Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

On investigating the latter multimillion-dollar violations, "Wilson said it 'would have be better' if a minister other than Rock had signed the $55-million grant, but noted the signature was made by a machine on instructions from Industry officials."(Ottawa Citizen)

Rock was happy to accept the latter whitewashing that the opposition leaders called a "complete joke" but it put an end to his political and federal judgeship ambitions.

Fast forward to 2008: The media reported that the first thing Rock did as president of the University of Ottawa was to accept an Israel lobby funded trip to Israel and agree to launch an inter-university exchange program in law ("in the service of the world"). When later asked if Palestinian students would be allowed to participate in the program Rock publicly stated that he could not answer that.

These days, Rock's "service to the world" includes promoting "the responsibility to intervene" in Africa and writing an opinion editorial about stranded Nazia Quazi in Saudi Arabia. All of which he describes to attentive students on his "Rock Talk" blog which filters out critical "off topic" student comments. The blog was said to have been initiated to "help resolve the problem of one-way communication." Student leaders explain Rock's behaviour to themselves by postulating that he wants to re-enter federal politics - because they can't otherwise figure it out.

Clearly the Allan Rock U of O mistake was avoidable. Unless the selection committee was incompetent or blinded, it must have known how predictable Rock's unconstrained performance would be?

Why would any university make itself home to a failed politician who is ethically challenged, who has bungled most major dossiers to cross his desk, who appears to be in the pocket of outside interests, and who wants to spend more time out "in the world" rather than on campus?

Such an appointment is diametrically opposed to the established academic principles of responsible management of public (and student tuition) funds and of institutional independence as a safeguard for academic freedom (HERE).

We hope that this blog will help produce needed change, a break from the pattern of history.

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