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

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Blast from the past - Five headed dragon vs the truth

Five fingers on a hand, five senses, five great lakes... five science department chairs in the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa. That could make the school a five star establishment but well not quite. UofOWatch still has work to do because there is room for improvement.

Back on February 22, 2006, the five chairs
  • Steve Perry (Biology)
  • Alain St-Amant (Chemistry)
  • Keiko Hattori (Geology)
  • Michel Racine (Mathematics)
  • Richard JW Hodgson (Physics)
boldly co-signed THIS statement that was also published in the student newspaper at the time. The goal of the statement appears to have been to discredit physics professor Denis Rancourt and to cover up the errors of the dean of the Faculty of Science Chistian Detellier.

Professor Alain St-Amant went on to dedicate himself to a serious campaign, a la Dershowitz-Finkelstein, to have Rancourt fired; complete with repeated public accusation of anti-semitism for having invited Palestinian speakers into a classroom, etc. He had to wait for the advent of staunch Israeli policy supporter president Allan Rock before his project could be fully realized. UofOWatch readers will remember the extensive comments from Dr. St-Amant about everything from his low h-index to the true nature of "academic integrity." Eventually, the university was forced to instruct St-Amant to stop his behaviour (and HERE and HERE-G8).

Professor Richard Hodgson went on to fabricate elements of a graduate student complaint against Rancourt as part of an administrative mobbing to have Rancourt removed from the graduate school and is now being sued by Rancourt for his creative contributions.

Professor Steve Perry had already expressed his concern about democratizing education earlier in February 2006 to a biology graduate student (and to the great concern of the graduate student union president of the time) who wanted to ask a German expert who was in town to give some lectures about time-series data analysis applied to biology. Perry blew up and gave her the proverbial "fuck you" ending with "Denis Rancourt casts a long shadow!" Who knows what animates the inner workings of a biology chairman? Dr. Perry went on to be a 2008 recipient of a Royal Society of Canada Award.

But we diverge. Let us get back to THIS 2006 letter from the five chairs and, with the the benefit of unfolding events, let us analyze if the chairs were right, let us use time-series analysis.

Let's see. The five chairs said
We, the Chairs of all five departments of the Faculty of Science, firmly believe that the actions taken by Dean Christian Detellier have been done in the best interests of the Faculty and the University.
Well. Turns out the university was forced to apologize for Detellier's action of barging into Rancourt's class unannounced to the students on September 21, 2005. See apology HERE. The university does not like to make such apologies. No no it never likes to do that.

What else did Detellier do that the five chairs believe was "in the best interests of the Faculty and the University"? Well he disciplined Rancourt for his pedagogical methods and for his grading method in the 2005 "activism course". That did not go over very well with the labour law arbitrator who ruled on the case.

Let's see. The five chairs put it this way
we are in complete agreement that Professor Rancourt's self-proclaimed "academic squatting" is an entirely inappropriate approach to curriculum change.
Well. The arbitrator ruled this way
… the major change being with respect to the pedagogical innovation of independent group studies, the involvement of the students themselves in identifying areas of interest and the introduction of the satisfactory/not-satisfactory grading system. The Arbitrator is satisfied that those pedagogical initiatives were legitimately within the purview of the academic freedom enjoyed by Professor Rancourt …
And an independent legal analysis published in a law journal summed it up in its title:
So. The five chairs who ran the science departments at the U of O were all wrong. Their only penalty for being wrong will be to be promoted or complimented or retired with honour.

It is therefore only just that we end this post with the following child's song.
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,
One fell out and bumped his head;
Momma called the doctor, the doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!".

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed, etc.
One little monkey jumping on the bed,
He fell out and bumped his head;
Momma called the doctor, the doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!".

No little monkeys jumping on the bed,
None fell out and bumped their heads;
Momma called the doctor, the doctor said,
"Put those monkeys straight to bed."

Academic Freedom site

No comments: