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, January 28, 2011

Kill the messenger::: Dean goes after student for complaint about research supervisor

Well there you have it: The Allan Rock crew is at it again

By Denis G. Rancourt

U of O physics graduate student and university Senate member Joseph Hickey has recently made public some disturbing revelations: HERE.

Given significant evidence of a problem in research supervision, instead of investigating in view of intervening as required, the dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies (FGPS), Gary Slater, attacked Hickey as the bearer of the message.

The attack on Hickey is particularly noteworthy given that the administration’s and Slater’s actions were diametrically opposed to this in their treatment of similar circumstances surrounding the administrative mobbing and dismissal of tenured physics professor and internationally recognized researcher Denis Rancourt: HERE and HERE (and Labour Law grievance G18 HERE).

The two cases (Rancourt, Hickey) are in stunning dissonance. (Slater even invents a non-existent policy to thwart Hickey.)

In one case (Rancourt), Slater initiated and pushed for immediate expulsion from the FGPS based on a fabricated student complaint (that the student denounced and that is now the subject of a private lawsuit against former physics chairman Richard Hodgson) and based on contrived allegations by Slater unanimously contradicted by all (eight) graduate students supervised by Rancourt.

In this case (Rancourt), Slater and the administration executed an unjustified wrongly-motivated expulsion of a highly regarded researcher and supervisor, without regard for student wishes or due process.

The illegal administrative mobbing against Rancourt is documented in many communications that are disclosure-denied based on the legalistic machination known as “solicitor-client privilege”, despite the fact that such mobbing is a violation of labour law in the academic work environment. (Fortunately, some of these records were disclosed in access to information (ATI) requests, possibly due to administrative errors.)

Whereas in the other case (Hickey), significant evidence for concern was not enough to move Slater to even investigate; preferring to turn on Hickey in order to protect an apparently deficient research supervisor.

UofOWatch has learned, through independent and direct confirmation, that the supervisor in question protected by Slater is the dean of the Faculty of Science, Andre E. Lalonde.

Lalonde, as Rancourt’s boss, had vigorously contributed to Slater’s and the administration’s campaign to turf Rancourt from the FGPS, thereby barring him from supervision and from access to research grants – in a concerted attempt to facilitate the professor’s unjustified dismissal.

Yet on the face of it, Rancourt’s contributions to graduate student supervision and research were stellar whereas Lalonde’s recent contributions are, in this writer’s professional opinion, at best borderline acceptable if he follows his supervisory responsibilities. Lalonde does not hold an NSERC Discovery Grant, is virtually not publishing, and appears to have no time to supervise at least one of his graduate students (see the Hickey report HERE).

Yet, we learn from Slater that Lalonde’s membership in the FGPS was recently enthusiastically renewed rather than investigated for deficiency (HERE).

My my my ... I think this is what is generally considered “arbitrary or discriminatory”, when it is not outright targeting in violation of a professor’s rights.

One has to wonder what prompted Slater and Lalonde to pursue such a tenuous path against Rancourt so vigorously, even using a fabricated student complaint and refusing to include the student’s denunciation letter in the file.

The Allan Rock crew was in full swing.

[All supporting documents available to the media on request.]

[Image copyrights: Julian Assange - public domain; Slater and Lalonde - University of Ottawa.]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

U of O Senate's crisis of democracy has been solved

This is a follow up to a previous post about a historic development at the Senate of the University of Ottawa: LINK.

The Senate of the University of Ottawa is the highest governing body on all academic matters in the institution, pursuant to the University of Ottawa Act, 1965.

In law, the Senate instructs executive management on all academic matters.

The Senate is intended to work as a democratic body, at the top of the collegial governance apparatus, where senators as equals authentically engage and make collective decisions.

Instead, the Senate at the University of Ottawa has become a showcase where the university executive managers decide on the agenda, veto motions before they can be considered, decide when discussions should end, write the minutes, and even declare when a "consensus" has been reached in the face of repeatedly voiced opposition (see video of January 10, 2011, meeting).

Fortunately Senate sessions are now filmed and made public (thanks to student activism) such that astute observers can ascertain what a sham it has become. Where are our brave tenured colleagues who work in the areas of institutional analysis, democracy studies, ... ?

In an effort to partly correct the administrative hijacking of Senate, some student senators had advanced that rules of procedure were needed that guaranteed democratic procedures, such as the iconic Robert's Rules of procedure. (LINK)

The embarrassment that no rules of procedure existed for Senate was enough that the student proposal could not be ignored, although this was the executives' main initial recommendation. (LINK)

Therefore, the executive management of "Canada's university" needed to solve the impending crisis of democracy whereby rules of procedure might create some room for democratic process.

The executives' solution was twofold:

(1) Provide interim rules which conveniently fit on one page, which leave out all the fluff about the democratic rights of senators, and which are a point-form list of the Chair's (which at U of O is the University President) functional role in ending discussions, calling the vote, declaring "consensus", etc.; without any mention of how motions are added to the agenda, for example.

(2) Do not create a Senate committee to study the question of procedural rules for six months, until after the mandates of the pesky students who brought this up are over.

The second arm of this solution is clever and was needed after the executives' first attempt -- which was to have the executive managers name the members to the new Senate committee -- was exposed as a device to exclude the student who had spearheaded the rules issue.

After missing two Senate meetings, you can tell that President Allan Rock is back, just in time to solve this crisis in democracy; although VP-Governance Diane Davidson was well on her way to achieving a solution.

Note that both Allan Rock and Diana Davidson are outside executives, not named from the professorial ranks.

Senators: Stand up, your noses are brown.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reality Check::: In the Ukraine they ELECT university presidents

It is a well kept secret in North America that in most of the rest of the world students and/or staff elect their university presidents.

In most of the rest of the world, university presidents are elected not selected.

For example, in the Ukraine the news is not that there are elections for university president but rather that the elections are alleged to have been interfered with by the government: HERE and HERE.

In Canada, not only has the problem of elections been solved (where such a concept is not even on the radar) but also the problem of institutional independence is being solved by simply naming politicians as presidents.

By comparison, virtually all of Latin America and most of Europe have elected university presidents (and also deans of faculties) and only the least democratic countries on the planet have outside politicians named to these positions.

In Canada, not only are outside former politicians installed as presidents but the university administrations do this themselves without being explicitly directed; thereby showing the highest possible level of deference to corporate influence and of disregard for institutional independence and academic freedom.

At "Canada's university" (aka University of Ottawa) this is how the president is selected: HERE.