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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is U of O a blood money U?

University of Ottawa's President Allan Rock promised (HERE!) a "donor recognition policy", following his orchestrated show panels on the topic of campus corporatization, and then never delivered (HERE) ...


Rock went on to accept an "anonymous donation" for the business school (for a research chair in "ethical management") and "generous support" for a targeted academic program with Israel.

This followed the university's multi-million-dollar courtships with the notorious Gorldcorp Inc. and with Paul Desmarais of Burmese fame.

Is the University of Ottawa in a race to become "blood money U"?

Does it aspire to surpass the London School of Economics?


Students occupy the London School of Economics (LSE) in solidarity with Libyan revolt

by Siân Ruddick - Feb 22, 2011


Students at the London School of Economics (LSE) in central London have occupied the senior management dining suite.

They are protesting against the university's links with the Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in Libya and in solidarity with the Libyan revolt.

The students are demanding that the university issues a statement condemning the brutality of the regime and of Saif Gaddafi, Colonel Gaddafi’s son, who is a graduate of LSE and a defender of the Libyan regime.

The students are also demanding that the university revokes Saif's alumni status and reject the annual instalments of £1.5 million from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.

They also want management to pledge that they will not accept grants and donations from oppressive regimes in the future.

Niamh, a second year student in the occupation, told Socialist Worker, "No one can condone the actions of the Gaddafi regime. The university cannot just issue a statement trying to placate people.

“This money is blood money, it was never LSE’s money. It should be given back to the Libyan people."

The occupiers are calling on other students to join them. Students across Britain have another day of action planned to defend education this Thursday – Day X 4.

Students at other colleges plan to occupy this week.

Send messages of support to lselibyasolidarity@gmail.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Motion for March 7th U of O Senate meeting::: Transparency on Israel

[See updates at senator Joseph Hickey's blog HERE.]

The following motion to Senate was made public today.

From: Joseph Hickey <>
Date: Sat, Feb 19, 2011
Subject: Motion on uOttawa-uHaifa exchange program
To: Diane Davidson
Cc: allan.rock@uottawa.ca, all Senate members, university community, concerned parties

Dear Diane Davidson and Members of the Senate,

I hereby submit the following motion for the March 7, 2011 meeting of the Senate. I hope to work with other Members of Senate in the upcoming weeks before the March 7 meeting in order to develop any amendments that may be necessary. Please contact me if you are you interested.

Motion submitted on February 19, 2011:

WHEREAS the operation of the University of Ottawa Senate is premised on the democratic principles of transparency and accountability and bound by the University of Ottawa Act, 1965 to follow Christian principles of fairness and equity, and;

WHEREAS the Executive Committee of the Senate approved a Joint Masters in Laws (LL.M) exchange program in partnership with the University of Haifa, Israel, on May 12, 2008, and the Faculty of Common Law is currently accepting applications to the program, and;

WHEREAS it has not been determined that the Senate has granted the power to its Executive Committee to approve new programs categorized as reciprocity agreements, and;

WHEREAS it has not been determined if Palestinian students from the University of Ottawa or the University of Haifa shall have full and equitable access to the program in question, and;

WHEREAS new academic initiatives that have targeted donor support are potentially subject to donor influence and whereas the Haifa project agreement between the University of Ottawa and the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation has not been disclosed to Senate or made public, and;

WHEREAS there is presently local and international expressed concern about Israel’s domestic and foreign policy and a broad international call for an academic boycott of Israel,

THEREFORE the Senate requires that the date and circumstances surrounding the delegation of its power to approve new exchange programs and reciprocity agreements to its Executive Committee be provided to it, and;

THEREFORE the Senate requires that the agreement between the University of Ottawa and the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation be entirely disclosed to it and made public, and;

THEREFORE in order to ensure fair and equitable access of all persons to the program in question without discrimination, the Senate requires the affirmative action guarantee that applications be selected in such a way that the percentage of Palestinian students accepted into the program at the University of Haifa be equal to or greater than the percentage of Palestinian people living in Israel, and;

THEREFORE the Senate will hear the community concerns regarding institutional academic exchanges with Israel, from representatives of all concerned parties from the university community, in view of (re)considering its approval of the Haifa project, and;

THEREFORE the Joint Masters in Laws (LL.M) exchange program shall be frozen and the application process put on hold until the above actions have been carried out by the Senate.


Joseph Hickey
Representative to the University of Ottawa Senate for graduate students in the Sciences.

Cc: Concerned parties, community members, media

[Photos: Gerald Schwartz, Heather Reisman; donors to Haifa exchange program.]

Friday, February 11, 2011

U of O hijacked by Israel::: Senator hot on the trail of administrative malfeasance?

  • Why does the University of Ottawa need a law school exchange program with Israel?
  • And why does it need it in the middle of an international civil society call for an academic boycott of Israel?
  • Is this an effort to help Israel into needed compliance with international law and the Geneva Conventions?

These are the kinds of questions that the Allan Rock administration did not want raised at university Senate.

But university Senate is where all new academic programs are democratically discussed and approved. It is the highest governing body on academic matters at the university.

How can this dilemma be solved? (SEE BACKGROUND REPORT HERE)

The Allan Rock answer is simple (and certainly inspired from federal politics):
Don't call it a program!
It's just an "exchange"... (A procedural improvement that the administration can approve without consulting Senate.)

It looks and smells like an academic program (with specific academic requirements, applications, deadlines, unique characteristics, entrance requirements, its own scholarship "program", etc.) but IT'S NOT AN ACADEMIC PROGRAM.

Graduate school dean Gary Slater explained it this way: "It's not an academic program. It's an exchange program." (HERE)

But physics student Senator Joseph Hickey is not letting go. He wants to understand how this "Senate is the highest governing body" thing works... HERE.

Another problem is that the Rock administration wants to please its donor (the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation) and publicly call it a wonderful "New Joint Masters in Laws Program", also in an effort to recruit candidates.

So the Rock administration first puts out this press release (below) then four days later changes the press release (also below) after Hickey starts to noisily inquire...

Note the changes: SIX occurrences of the word "program", including in the title, are removed and craftily replaced, without any mention that the public document has been altered.

OK but two of those changes are in quotes of statements made by law dean Bruce Feldthusen and research chair Michael Geist...?!

So what did they really say? Are they automaton puppets? These are fair questions.

Epilogue: Compare this to former professor Denis Rancourt who in 2005 was disciplined for using the word "bilingual" to describe one of his courses (on his own unofficial web page) that was actually bilingual in practice and approved as such because this could mislead some students to believe that the course was "officially bilingual". Remarkably, this discipline was upheld by a professional arbitrator: HERE.

This blogpost has been removed

This blogpost has been removed on June 7, 2014, pursuant to a June 6, 2014 court order of Justice Michel Charbonneau, in the St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit heard in Ottawa, as has been reported in the media.

The Defendant will appeal the court orders, if he is able to raise the money for the required court transcripts (approximately $20,000.), and if he can find a lawyer to act pro bono in the appeal that would be heard in Toronto.

LINK to the court orders from the trial.

Monday, February 7, 2011

U of O "2 for 1 law degrees" scam was not approved by university Senate

THIS press release was posted today by the University of Ottawa.

Highlights are as follows:

"... students will receive two Masters in Laws degrees ... This exciting dual degree program provides students with the rare opportunity to obtain two distinct LL.M. degrees after only one year of studies ... The University Ottawa - University of Haifa program is generously supported by the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation ... Additionally, the program affords students unfamiliar with Israel an opportunity to experience the country first-hand ..." (emphasis added)

As historic background, readers of UofOWatch will recall:

"In July 2008 the media reported that Allan Rock participated in a trip to Israel “partly financed by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA)”, along with five other Canadian university presidents. The media reported that Mr. Rock’s visit “yielded immediate results” as “the University of Ottawa agreed to launch an exchange program in law.” After a few months in office, President Allan Rock announced his plan in October 2008 for the University of Ottawa. This plan included what he calls putting “Canada’s University in the service of the World”. In explaining it to students on October 24, 2008, he talked about exchange programs. When one student asked if Palestinian students would be allowed to participate in the exchange programs with Israel, Mr. Rock stated that he could not answer that." [see Endnote-3 HERE]

Today's U of O press release is entitled "U of O - U of Haifa New Joint Masters in Law Program".

All new academic programs and all changes to existing academic programs are required by law (University of Ottawa Act, 1965) to be approved by the university Senate, the highest university governing body on all academic matters.

Today at university Senate, student Senate member Joseph Hickey pointed out that this new 2 for 1 masters in law program has never been discussed or approved by Senate.

Senators refused to second his motion to add this urgent matter to the agenda, despite Hickey's explanation that the authority of Senate in academic matters was being circumvented and that the public was being misinformed.

[Student applications for the funded 2 for 1 deal ($10 thousand bursary per student) are only being received until March 1st (before the next Senate meeting), to start in September 2011.]

President Allan Rock stated "No one knows what you are talking about Mr. Hickey."

Later in the Senate meeting, dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Gary Slater clarified that the new joint venture announced in the press release was "not an [academic] program".

In addition, the reported Schwartz-Reisman Foundation "generous support" is the second significant private donation disclosed by the university since in 2009 Allan Rock promised a university policy of "donor recognition" before any more donations were accepted and then never produced a policy... [see HERE and HERE]

On Ann Coulter [see background HERE], Rock "clarified" today at Senate that his statements were "not a commitment".

I guess this means that his show panels on corporatization and his 2009 statements that a donor policy would be immediately developed were also "not a commitment". Fluff? Noise? Smoke and mirrors?

Most importantly, the authority of the university Senate to approve and legally certify academic programs has been at best circumvented in this special case and at worst rendered meaningless.

Like the proverbial boiling frog, only one Senator noticed.

This raises many unanswered questions:

  • Who will be the first students to benefit from this unprecedented "2 for 1" degrees deal, and get paid doing it?
  • Will they view Israel in a positive light? [HERE, HERE, HERE] Will their required research papers address Israel's ongoing Geneva Conventions violations?
  • If university Senate doesn't need to approve such scams, then who guarantees academic standards?
  • Did Haifa's university Senate discuss and approve this venture?
  • Will Ontario's Ministry of Education allow this?
  • Will Senator Joseph Hickey seek a judicial review?


  • The university has changed the application deadline from March 1st to May 1st: HERE.
  • The university has removed the media release from its list: HERE.
  • yayaCanada reports: "U of O hijacked by Israel"
  • University changes its posted press release to remove the word "program" in the title and in six places including in quoted statements by dean Bruce Feldthusen and by research chair Michael Geist. No mention is made of the change.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Found hiding under a Rock::: More on Coulter saga -- from Student's Eye View


Dear President Allan Rock,

You made a commitment at the April 12, 2010 meeting of the Senate to initiate a broad community discussion on freedom of expression, following the controversy arising from your letter of March 2010 to American political commentator Ann Coulter.

In your words:

“As we look forward, one such alternative is for us to engage our university community in an open discussion of these matters to work toward a consensus of our shared expectations when it comes to Freedom of Expression, and how to communicate those expectations to people visiting our university … If we can agree that there is a collective view at the University of Ottawa about the principles and responsibilities that underlie free speech, we can, for example, explore the creation of a statement of principles that we can all adopt by consensus, and that might reflect what we believe.”

After eight months of inaction on this commitment, I motioned this week to bring the matter before the University of Ottawa Senate at the upcoming meeting on February 7. On February 3, you responded (below) that it is your position now that the matter was closed and completed as of the May 2010 meeting.

Mr. Rock, the antithesis between your statements and your actions since then is remarkable:

  • When did you and the Senate “engage our university community in an open discussion of these matters”?
  • When and how did “we” “work toward a consensus of our shared expectations when it comes to Freedom of Expression”?
  • What did “we” decide about “how to communicate those expectations to people visiting our university”?
  • What are the “expectations”?
  • What progress has been made on our “statement of principles that we can all adopt by consensus”?

Your detailed proposal at Senate was accepted by consensus on April 12, 2010 (you have explained the meaning of “consensus” in Senate procedure). Either the Senate follows through to instruct the administration on actuation of this item, or tables and adopts a motion to remove the item, or the Senate has been degraded to a meaningless shadow of its statutory self.

A cynic might complain that one can expect to see these sorts of empty promises in federal politics, but even a cynic would agree that university Senate is not intended to be a political instrument – it is by law the highest authority on academic matters at the university.

I fear that if we do not act, there is a significant risk that the University of Ottawa Senate will become no more than a shill for a profoundly shallow and ignorant view of the academic world.

Joseph Hickey

B.Sc. (Hon., Summa Cum Laude), University of Ottawa
M.Sc. candidate, University of Ottawa
Elected representative for graduate students in the Sciences and Engineering, University of Ottawa Senate

[Source: A Student's-Eye View.]

See all posts about the U of O Ann Coulter - Allan Rock saga: HERE.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

U of O in top 25::: Spending student tuition money on corporate vanity scheme

Here is another U of O press release celebrating one of the school's notable achievements:

"University of Ottawa still among region's top 25 employers"

This surprised us at UofOWatch. It just seemed incongruous that a university that treats its employees well would have the lowest student survey results in the nation? [See previous post HERE.]

So we decided to investigate.

Who gives this prize? How are the winners selected? How does the for-profit corporation that runs the prize make its money? Why is President Allan Rock buying into the project?

As part of our investigation, we wrote both to the corporation (Mediacorp Canada Inc.) that runs the competition and to the University of Ottawa. We got some interesting answers. The email exchanges are posted HERE-Mediacorp and HERE-UofO.

In the case of Mediacorp we wrote to the Publisher, Anthony Meehan, and to all the editors (generic emails). In the case of the University of Ottawa, we wrote to the Director of Communications Services, Andre Dumulon, with all her staff in cc.

As you can see from the posted exchanges, the answers are quite instructive, but not as much as our own (ongoing) independent research into the matter...

Highlights are as follows:
  • Both U of O and Mediacorp refused to answer how many contestants there were in the competition.
  • Both U of O and Mediacorp refused to name or make public the names of the judges that selected the winners, or even to state how many individuals were involved.
  • Both U of O and Mediacorp refused to clarify who pays for the 12-page colour promotional insert that is published in the Ottawa Citizen celebrating the winners.
  • The U of O press release disingenuously states "The rigorous selection process is overseen by an advisory board that evaluates the organizations according to specific criteria" whereas Meehan affirmed that the Mediacorp advisory board is not involved in any way with the competition but only helps to develop the evaluation criteria for the competition (see email).
  • The "rigorous selection process" is accomplished by an "editorial committee" (of an unknown number of nameless "editors") chaired by Mediacorp Managing Editor Richard Yerema (see email).
  • The U of O refused to answer whether it was required to pay an "application fee" to enter the competition.
UofOWatch has uncovered THIS LETTER which shows that all applicants were required to pay a non-refundable "application fee" of "$495 plus GST".

Let's see now... For the 2011 national competition (which also counts for all the regional awards) Mediacorp "reviewed the recruitment histories of more than 75,000 employers across Canada and invited 12,500 of these to apply."

There is no need to be invited to apply (there are on-line invitations to all employers) but let us say that half of those honoured with invitations applied. That represents corporate proceeds for Mediacorp of over $3 million, just to rank some applications. Even 1% of the 75,000 employers give a Mediacorp revenue of almost $400 thousand. And who pays for the Citizen insert...?

[It can't be harder than grading two hundred physics final exam papers if you don't have to show the losers any results, can narrow it down to the top few hundred contestants and can't be forced to show the scores or name your helpers...]

In its LETTER, Mediacorp explains that such corporate prize schemes either have to sell "consulting services to employers" (which Mediacorp does not do) or charge an "application fee".

UofOWatch is of the opinion that this thing is a corporate scam driven by desperate employers that need positive media attention.

It is shameful, in our opinion, that the University of Ottawa is using public and student tuition money to buy into this corporate vanity scheme rather than actually improve the university for its students.

U of O President Allan Rock is quoted at length in the U of O press release developing the idea that the award "is a testimony to the quality of those who work here more than anything else ... our human resources are our most precious resource ... support staff and professors ..." etc.

It's an award to employers for how they treat their employees (sick leave, parental leave, vacations, dental insurance, etc.) and Mr. Rock says that this is a testimony to the employees. That at least seems honest: The University has generally not agreed to benefits and improved conditions which instead were fought for by the employees.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How sad is this? U of O news release pushes the boundaries of tragedy

The latest U of O news release reads:

"More students make the University of Ottawa their first choice for post-secondary education"

The University of Ottawa for the latest several years has been in the basement of national student satisfaction surveys, as in last place (!), despite President Allan Rock's vehement statements that it is his first priority to fix this appalling statistic. [See Macleans' university rankings since Rock started his mandate; e.g., HERE]

The Rock administration appears desperate to report positive news. This latest release is simply sad:

A university education should elucidate the fact that as a population increases so will university applications, in every category... It would be news if applications did not increase.

The other obvious point is the question of statistical significance. In those years (not worthy of a press release) when the number of applications decreases is the decrease statistically significant? And how large is the celebrated "increase" compared to the year to year fluctuations?

I know that these are statistical concepts not particularly common in press releases, but after all this is a university. You would expect it to attempt to raise the intellectual level of public discourse rather than use opportunistic devices of cheap marketing propaganda.

And of course Rock himself signs the action:

"These results clearly reflect our excellence and increased ability to make our success known to others. Students from across Canada recognize the quality of our university and want to be among our outstanding graduates,” says President Allan Rock.

OK but even if the numbers were valid would there not be other more likely interpretations of the causes?

Such as: U of O offers more and richer entrance scholarships than other second-rate universities and we are in an economic depression? (as many students have shared with us...)

Or: U of O has aggressively recruited in foreign markets (where parents don't read Macleans magazine)?

It looks like the Rock administration's solution to increase student satisfaction is to have more unsatisfied students?

Or is propaganda Rock's main plan? That would also appear to be the case.

The university has not announced any research effort to identify why U of O students are consistently so dissatisfied with their experience, compared to all other Canadian universities. Nor has it announced any program specifically targeted at eliminating the media-reported publicly identified causes of student dissatisfaction.

Addendum: This U of O press release reminds me of a 1991 trip to China where it was explained to me that the giant Chinese symbols in the message flower bed on Tienanmen Square said "Socialism is good" but that most Chinese were of the opinion that this needed to be demonstrated rather than simply proclaimed. Mao had been wiser in his youth. There is no reported evidence of this with Rock.

The President has created a "Service to the World" bureaucracy with associated cheerleading overhead but there remains a crying need for "service to the student"; something authentic in-class and on-campus experience would solve and that cannot be healed with propaganda. The Rock administration needs to discover basics and to plan beyond one or two election cycles.

Alternatively, the Board of Governors will need to consider that Mister "shit magnets in his pockets" is not doing the trick.

[Image copyright: University of Ottawa; media room header.]