All Posts Tagged With: "Canadian Association of University Teachers"
Instructor had briefly discussed art project with student
The Alberta College of Art and Design has reinstated an instructor fired after one of his students beheaded a chicken.
The college said Wednesday in a statement that it has learned lessons from the incident and hopes to develop clear policies around academic responsibility and artistic freedom.
“While the College’s decision to terminate Mr. Ferguson was never intended to be about academic or artistic freedom, the College acknowledges the perception this action may have created,” it said.
“All parties acknowledge that this incident has raised important issues about the relationship between a teacher and student, and a student’s work.”
The student killed the chicken with a knife, then plucked it and cleaned it in the school’s cafeteria last month as part of a performance art project. Some students were so shocked they called police but no criminal charges were laid.
The teacher in charge of the class, Gord Ferguson, was fired last week. The Canadian Association of University Teachers quickly took up his fight and filed a grievance with the college.
He had been with the school for 32 years.
Ferguson said Wednesday he’s relieved to have his job back. He found it unfair the college punished him for something a student did, adding students should be allowed to be creative at an art school.
“We never tell them what they can’t do or what they can do,” he said. “Any subject is available to be debated and discussed and investigated and you have to feel free and supported to be able to do that.”
He said the student’s chicken project was about commercial food production. He wanted to remind people that meat doesn’t come wrapped in plastic from a grocery store — it has to be killed first.
Ferguson briefly discussed the project with the student beforehand but, in hindsight, wishes they would have spent more time talking about how best to carry it out.
Ferguson said he has been overwhelmed with supportive letters and messages from students, past students, professors and strangers from across the country.
About 1,400 students also signed an online petition supporting Ferguson. Others flocked to Facebook, planning to protest his firing later this week during the school’s graduation art show.
Ferguson said he and the school have agreed to host a symposium when classes resume in September “to air some of these issues arising from this event.”
“I think that the goal here is to not come up with a set of restrictions where people may not do this and not do that, but rather inform people that they are free to explore any topic that they want to explore — but maybe with a bit of framework.”
Prof. Pettigrew: student evaluations won’t help
A recent report from the Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has got people talking about student teaching evaluations again. Hoo boy.
McCarter is concerned that evidence of teaching ability is not being taken into account when it comes to granting tenure and promotion to faculty. It’s a legitimate concern in theory. The problem is that this report takes student evaluations as a key method by which quality teaching should be measured. That’s trouble.
As the report rightly points out, the research on the usefulness of student evaluations is a subject of much disagreement. In fact, it’s actually even more hotly contested than the AG’s report admits. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) insists, for instance, that such surveys cannot be taken as a measure of teaching effectiveness.
CAUT may be trying to protect the jobs of its members. Still, student evaluations, from the outset suffer from a basic flaw which is that they often fail to meet a very basic standard for any evaluation. That is, an evaluator should be qualified to evaluate. More specifically, the evaluator should be an expert on the subject, should be motivated to take the evaluation seriously, and should be a disinterested third party.
Before judging, please consider what professors actually do
A lot is being written about universities these days and much of it paints a rather troubling picture. Some of the more popular arguments were put forward by Margaret Wente—who seems to write the same column about post-secondary education every few months—this weekend: the system is in crisis, it doesn’t sufficiently prepare students for the job market, the quality of teaching has continuously declined, and overpaid, lazy professors are sitting in their ivory towers denying that anything is wrong.
Universities are facing real and significant challenges, and I agree that anyone who thinks the only problem is underfunding is deluding themselves (that said, let’s not dismiss funding as an issue: across Canada, government funding as a proportion of university revenues has gone from 80.9 per cent in 1989 to 58.3 per cent in 2009. In Ontario, it is down 49.5 per cent! This trend poses myriad issues, including shifting the funding burden to students and creating incentives for universities to boost funding by adding more students.)
Queen’s professor was unfairly relieved of his duties
Recently the Canadian Association of University Teachers came down hard on Queen’s University for their handling of the case of Michael Mason, a professor who was, effectively, ousted from the course he had come out of retirement to teach.
I don’t always side with CAUT, but they seem to be right on this one.
Reports indicated that Mason used terms like “japs” and “towelhead” in his class on the history of imperialism. Having been around the university world for a long time, I’m always skeptical of reports of profs saying indefensible things in class because, as far as I can tell, it generally doesn’t happen. Professors are typically a civilized lot and usually highly aware of the nuances of the language.
What has been happening lately, though, is that professors’ comments are being taken wildly out of context; then follows misguided outrage, and then, in turn, the normal interactions of shit and fans.
Canadian Association of University Teachers isn’t happy
Changes to “clarify” a controversial, $15-million donor agreement at Carleton University are more cosmetic than substantive and miss the main point — protecting academic independence, the Canadian Association of University Teachers said Wednesday.
Carleton’s administration released a newly rewritten agreement with wealthy Calgary businessman Clay Riddell this week to clear up what it called confusion about the steering committee for the fledgling graduate program in political management.
“A revised clause of the agreement clarifies the role as that of strategic adviser,” university president Roseann O’Reilly Runte said Tuesday.
But the academic freedom and tenure committee of CAUT, the national university teachers’ association, spent more than an hour poring over the single-page clause and said the problematic deal “in some ways has been made worse.”
Law 78 not used
A demonstration in Montreal on Tuesday to mark 100 days of class boycotts over tuition was calmer than expected. Though some estimate crowds in the hundreds of thousands, Montreal Police arrested just over 100 people.
They did not—as was widely reported this morning—use a new law, 78, that makes demonstrations of more than 50 people illegal if organizers haven’t submitted an itinerary at least eight hours in advance to police.*
CLASSE, the most vocal student group behind the protests, also known as the “student strike,” refused to tell police of its plans.
In my opinion, they’re paid well enough already.
More than 1,000 students at Brandon University have signed a petition asking for their tuition money back because of a faculty strike that caused classes to be cancelled since Oct. 12.
But the Brandon University Student’s Union (BUSU), which has collected the signatures, doesn’t blame the professors—who are striking for the second time in three years—for their three weeks of missed classes. BUSU supports the picketing profs. They agree they’re underpaid.
But are Brandon’s professors really underpaid? More importantly—are professors underpaid in general? It’s a question students and taxpayers should ask—they’re the ones who pay the bills.
Targeted schools feel investigations were unnecessary to begin with
After completing lengthy investigations into three religious universities and their hiring practices, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has said it will stop sending teams of investigators to schools it suspects require a faith test as part of their conditions of employment, reported the National Post.
The CAUT was criticized for deploying elaborate inquiries devoted to uncovering the existence of faith tests, when the information was readily available publicly through websites and university calendars.
Investigations were conducted into Trinity Western University, Crandall University, and the Canadian Mennonite University. Each CAUT report concluded that the schools required statements of faith from faculty members as an employment requirement. The organization also recently launched an inquiry into Redeemer University College in Ontario.
“In hindsight we started out using our elaborate investigative procedures because we wanted to be fair to the institutions,” CAUT executive director James Turk says. “We didn’t want to say the schools were doing something inappropriate without checking it out carefully.”
However, Justin Cooper, president of Christian Higher Education Canada, which oversees 33 private Christian universities and colleges in Canada, felt that the investigations have made some parents and donors question whether or not there was cause for concern: “Essentially what they were investigating was something that was public knowledge and then inferred conclusions that these faith statements were stifling the academic atmosphere, without ever conducting an empirical review. They have reached a damaging conclusion that discredits our schools.”
While they may no longer be sending a team of investigators, Turk told the National Post CAUT will still continue to keep an eye on schools that require statements of faith from their faculty. “An institution that includes or excludes teachers on the basis of a faith test is antithetical to what a university is supposed to be,” he said. “We’d be just as concerned if a secular university made its teachers sign an ideological statement.”
CAUT says director dismissed over objections to private involvement in academic matters
Academic freedom was violated when Ramesh Thakur was dismissed from his post as director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, according to a report compiled by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). The Balsillie School is jointly managed by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
According to the report, Thakur, whose contract was to extend to 2013, was dismissed in the spring alledgedly because he objected to interference in academic decisions from Blackberry Entrepreneur Jim Balsillie’s private think tank, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).
“Dr. Thakur was unfairly treated . . . [and] had every right to expect support from the Presidents of UW and WLU . . . when he sounded the alarm on CIGI’s proposals,” the report, written by University of Saskatchewan English professor Len Findlay, concluded. “Insofar as his academic freedom depended on the protections of institutional autonomy, it became increasingly vulnerable to threats from the outside and complicity on the inside.”
The report further called Thakur’s dismissal “a serious lapse of judgement and loss of commitment to institutional autonomy, academic integrity, due process, and natural justice.”
A donation of $33 million to help create the School was funneled through CIGI, and faculty appointed to the Balsillie School are simultaneously appointed as CIGI chairs.
CIGI maintains that Balsillie had no role in Thakur’s dismissal.
A statement released on behalf of CIGI, UWaterloo and WLU dismissed the findings of the report. “The [Balsillie School of International Affairs] partners unanimously and strenuously disagree with the CAUT report’s findings and interpretation of the events. The report is based on a flawed and incomplete interpretation of the circumstances and rationale for the decision,” the statement read. “Donor influence was absolutely not an issue in the departure of the former director.”
In an interview with the Globe and Mail Thakur, who is a former Senior Vice Rector of the United Nations University and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, said he felt vindicated by the CAUT report. “Had it been clear to me that the school was a wholly owned subsidiary of CIGI, I would never have taken the job,” he said.
Governor General David Johnston was president of the University of Waterloo at the time of the incident.
Photo: Research In Motion CEO and Blackberry entrepreneur Jim Balsillie, Canadian Press
Ontario pleads with universities to freeze wages
The Ontario government is asking universities that are in the middle of labour negotiations to walk away from the table and impose a two-year wage freeze. Although the wage freeze is being proposed for all public sector employees, as part of a plan to reduce a $19.7 billion deficit, the government is singling out universities because several of them are currently in the middle of collective bargaining. “It’s not that we chose them or they chose to go first,” a government official told the Globe. “It’s just that chronologically [their agreements] are coming up.” The Star added that after those two-years are up, that wage increases should be regulated inline with the province’s 1.9 per cent cap on spending increases.
Faculty groups are not impressed. “The government is trying to impose its wishes for zero compensation increases without the legislative tools to do so,” said a spokesman for the Ontario Confederation of Faculty Association quoted in the Globe. Executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers is concerned the move entails forcing universities to bargain as one unit, a move, he told the Star that would be “quite a worrisome development.”
New Banting Fellowships are elitist, says CAUT
The Canadian Association of University Teachers has come out against new federally funded post-doctoral fellowships, arguing they are elitist. The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, formally announced earlier this month, will see the government invest $45 million over five years to award 70 fellowships a year, at $70,000 a year for two years.
Because the program will only benefit a fraction of Canada’s roughly 6,000 postdocs, the CAUT says the government has “misplaced priorities.” James Turk, CAUT’s executive director says the program will have a negligible impact on research output. “This program is another step toward the creation of a small elite tier of scholars in Canada , rather than a step toward increasing the capacity for research excellence of all our postdocs.”
The Banting Fellowships are, according to a government release, intended “to attract and retain in Canada the best researchers in the world.”
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) hailed the program when it was first announced, pointing out that the Banting Fellowships will complement other research programs such as the Vanier Scholarships and the Canadian Excellence Research Chairs. “Canada’s not just doing one thing. This is the latest in a series of sustained and complementary programs to attract more creative and innovative people,” said AUCC president Paul Davidson,
The CAUT believes the money would have been better spent on funding “a 4 to 4.5% wage increase for all postdocs in Canada.” According to a survey by the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars, the average postdoc earns a salary of between $35, 000 and $40,000 a year.
Violations of academic freedom alleged in dismissal of school’s director
While his Research In Motion business partner is enjoying the glow of Stephen Hawking’s presence at the Perimeter Institute, Jim Balsillie’s own foray into high-level academic research has been steeped in alleged violations of academic freedom. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) announced last week that it will be investigating the removal of Ramesh Thakur as director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The school is affiliated with the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
In a letter addressed to the presidents of both institutions, CAUT director James Turk alleged that Thakur was fired “without any stated cause, without any fair procedure and in violation of his contract.” Thakur’s tenure as director of the Balsillie School was to last until 2013. He will retain his faculty position at the University of Waterloo. The national professors union has appointed Len Findlay, a University of Saskatchewan English professor, to investigate the case and file a report by Sept 1.
Attracting the attention of the CAUT follows a report in the Globe and Mail about Thakur’s dismissal that raised questions about the relationship between the Balsillie School and the Blackberry entrepreneur’s private think tank, the Centre for Innovation in Global Governance (CIGI). A donation of $33 million to help create the school was funneled through CIGI, and faculty appointed to the Balsillie School are simultaneously appointed as CIGI chairs. Summarizing the donor agreement and emails obtained by the Globe, the newspaper reported that there was an “expectation that CIGI will be consulted on strategy and staffing at the new school.”
The CAUT suspects that Thakur’s firing was motivated by his “opposition to giving CIGI a larger role in the governance of the Balsillie School.” It is a claim that appears to be supported by Thakur himself, who told the Globe, via email, that “Academic freedom is the bedrock of the university, and autonomy from outside interests (however well-meaning) is important in protecting that academic freedom.”
No one from the University of Waterloo or Wilfrid Laurier agreed to be interviewed by Maclean’s. However, both institutions released brief statements through their communications offices. “The departure of Dr. Ramesh Thakur as director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs is a personnel matter and therefore subject to confidentiality requirements,” read the Wilfrid Laurier statement.
A statement from the University of Waterloo similarly cited confidentiality issues, but also defended the institution’s commitment to academic freedom. “The university considers academic integrity and freedom as the most fundamental element of our foundation and existence,” the statement read.
Prior to coming to Waterloo, Thakur was Senior Vice Rector of the United Nations University and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Updated: secular definition of academic freedom should not rule in Canada
Under attack for allegedly violating academic freedom, Christian universities in Canada are fighting back in a decidedly academic way. They are planning to hold a conference. Last week, delegates from faith-based schools across the country were in Toronto for the annual meeting of Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC), an advocacy group.
At the top of the agenda was the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) into whether Christian institutions respect accepted rules of academic freedom.
For background click here.
The national professors union has already completed a report on Trinity Western University that concluded that due to the existence of a Statement of Faith affirming Christian beliefs, that all professors must sign, the school places “unwarranted and unacceptable constraints on academic freedom.” Canadian Mennonite University and Crandall University have also been visited by CAUT investigators.
Faced with the possibility of further rebukes against Christian schools, CHEC’s board of directors has decided to invite other groups from the post-secondary sector to participate in a “national conference to dialogue on the meaning of ‘university’ and ‘academic freedom.’” However, planning for the conference is still in the preliminary stages, and a date and venue have yet to be set. CAUT told Maclean’s it is reserving comment until a formal request to participate in the conference is made. (Update: CAUT executive director James Turk told Inside Higher Education that they would probably accept an invitation to participate in the conference.)
Al Hiebert, CHEC’s executive director, said the dispute stems from two competing definitions of academic freedom. On one side is CAUT’s position that Hiebert said represents an “unqualified academic freedom” for “every individual professor at a university.” On the other side is a view that holds institutional autonomy from outside influence above faculty independence. The latter definition is clearly favoured by faith based universities.
For example, Trinity’s statement on academic freedom protects scholarly inquiry only when it stems “from a stated perspective, i.e., within parameters consistent with the confessional basis of the constituency to which the University is responsible.”
While CAUT argues such qualifications do “not ensure genuine academic freedom,” Hiebert said respecting an institution’s autonomy to develop its own approach to scholarship, including the right to limit inquiry on faith-based grounds, is consistent with the idea of a university. “Our posture is that this CAUT position does not rule in Canada [and] should not be allowed to rule in Canada,” he said. Despite CHEC’s apparent hostility towards a principle that privileges faculty autonomy, Hiebert said he hopes that the conference can help foster “mutual understanding.”
“If some consensus position were drafted, that would be wonderful,” he said.
Lesbian music teacher got short end of the stick when dismissed from Catholic school
Lisa Reimer was teaching music at a Catholic school in Vancouver until a group of parents found out she was gay. When complaints started rolling in, Reimer was told not to come back to Little Flower Academy, she alleges. Reimer was instructed to work from home and administer assignments online for the duration of her contract, which will expire in June.
In order to teach at the school, Reimer signed a contract agreeing to adhere to “Catholic values.” Since homosexuality generally doesn’t fall under the umbrella of Catholic values, Reimer deceitfully signed the clause, or so say those of the “She Got What She Deserved” position. Then there are the “The School is Full of Homophobes” loyalists, who argue the administration should not have caved to parental pressure, and should have granted Reimer parental rights when her partner had a baby in January.
Both positions, however, are undermined by the question of whether religious schools like Little Flower should be able to wield such authority in the first place. Private religious institutions, by distinction, can exclude whomever they like—the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees it. But how is a publicly funded institution (according to CTV, the school received close to $2 million in public funding last year) sanctioned to pick only those citizens who adhere to its ideology when hiring?
My fellow blogger Todd Pettigrew took up this question when the Canadian Association of University Teachers began probing hiring practices at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and Trinity Western University (TWU). Like Little Flower Academy, TWU requires faculty to sign a statement of faith. Pettigrew writes, “Publicly funded institutions should be for the use of the public…Even if we concede that non-Christian students can enroll in places like CMU—where they are required to take ‘Introduction to Christianity’ in their first year—non-Christian faculty are not.”
The defense to this point always seems to be, “Catholics pay taxes, so Catholics should be entitled to a piece of the pie.” Fair. But when religious schools—elementary, secondary, or university—take a slice of the public pie and only let some people eat, well, that becomes a little less fair. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists—they all pay taxes too, but provinces generally don’t fund their religious schools.
Maybe we should start? Sure! Tell that to the political train wreck that was the John Tory platform during the 2007 Ontario general election. Tory, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, proposed to allocate $400 million to fund private religious schools in the province if elected. The plan was wickedly unpopular among voters. Did it cost Tory the election? Maybe. But more importantly, it showed that many Canadians (Ontarians, at least) didn’t think public dollars should be spent on religious schools.
In this case, Lisa Reimer got the short end of the stick. But more than a victim of discrimination, she was a casualty of a confusing system that pits religious freedom against individual rights of citizens. If anything, it shows that public dollars and a private attitudes simply don’t mix.
CAUT alleges medicine prof fired without ‘just cause’
The University of Manitoba faces an academic boycott after the Canadian Association of University Teachers threatened to censure the school over allegations former family medicine professor, Larry Reynolds, was dismissed “without just cause or due process.” The decision to pursue censure of the U of M came from delegates to the national council who, coincidently, lifted censure against another institution, Firsts Nations University, on Friday.
If a formal censure is imposed, academics would be encouraged to decline academic positions and from participating in conferences and other academic events.
The decision, which also includes a threat of censure against the Winnipeg Health Regional Authority, was made after an ad-hoc committee of inquiry filed its report on the case. The CAUT is giving the U of M until November to reinstate Reynolds. “Our objective is to ensure that Dr. Reynolds is treated appropriately and in our view that means being restored to the position he held before these inappropriate actions were taken — that of a tenured, geographically full time, full professor of medicine,” executive director James Turk said in a release.
Reynolds, who previously taught at the University of Western Ontario, was recruited by the U of M to head the department of family medicine in 2001. His five year term was not renewed, and in 2008 he was dismissed from the department altogether.
According to the CAUT report Reynolds “was dismissed from the University of Manitoba’s Department of Family Medicine without formal notice and with no hearing regarding dismissal for cause, contrary to his contract and the policies of the University of Manitoba.”
U of M director of public affairs John Danakas told the Winnipeg Free Press that the university will not comment on specific personnel issues. “The university is prepared to stand behind its position. The university does not believe the story, as related by CAUT, represents a fair and accurate account of the situation,” He said, adding, “[b]ias was present from the beginning of the CAUT investigation.”
The last time CAUT formally censured a major research institution was 31 years ago, against Memorial University.
Only the federal government stands in the way of bringing university back from the brink
Canadian academics are no longer being encouraged to boycott First Nations University, after the Canadian Association of University Teachers lifted its censure Friday Morning. Delegates to a national meeting of CAUT voted unanimously to lift its censure against the institution that was imposed 17 months ago. CAUT initially censured the institution due to a failure to implement governance reforms, and because of ongoing threats to academic freedom.
Before the reforms were implemented, both the provincial and federal governments pulled financial support for FNuniv. The province eventually restored its portion of the funding after the university entered into an agreement with the University of Regina, that would see the latter oversee FNuniv’s finances. The federal government has yet to announce it will restore its funding, but has provided FNuniv with $3 million so that students currently registered may complete the academic year in August.
CAUT says it is imperative that the federal government reinstate grants for the university. “We were once one of the loudest voices in the country when it came to demanding changes at the institution — those changes have been made, so we’ve lifted censure, and it is time for the federal government to do its part,” executive director James Turk said.
Can we agree that it should be a university for the public?
The recent debates over Trinity Western University and Canadian Mennonite University have taken an interesting turn. To wit, CAUT is now asking whether religious universities should receive public funding.
The answer that has been showing up frequently on this site is, in essence, Why not? If Christians are part of the Canadian public, why shouldn’t Christian institutions get a share of public money?
One response is to say that public money should be spent on the public good. Many people are smokers, but that doesn’t justify spending government money to support smoking — just the reverse, in fact. Of course, this argument implies, and relies upon, the notion that promoting religion is not in the public good, which seems obvious to me, but not to many others. And since I am unlikely to de-convert anyone here, let me suggest another argument.
Publicly funded institutions should be for the use of the public. Effectively, Christian universities are not. While, technically, non-Christians may be able to enroll in them, there is no doubt that their missions are to promote a Christian view of the world and to give, as the CMU Statement of Faith has it, “full allegiance to Christ” so they are not meant for the general public in any meaningful way. And even if we concede that non-Christian students can enroll in places like CMU – where they are required to take “Introduction to Christianity” in their first year — non-Christian faculty are not . TWU requires faculty to sign their statement of faith and CMU officials publicly acknowledge that faculty are expected to be “clearly Christian.”
Simply because different groups have different priorities does not mean that the public in general should fund those priorities. Christians don’t need their own fire departments or police forces. They don’t need their own hospitals or roads. Or, if they do, they should pay for them themselves. Now, one might argue that schools are different, that the nature of education is such that a religious education requires its own institutions with different practices and standards. Maybe so, but that requirement is a private requirement, which makes such a school, effectively, a private school. And private schools — whether called that or not — should not be financed by the public.
Now before everyone gets all upset, and starts calling me names, let me be clear. I am not saying individual religious people are necessarily bad people, or good people, or any particular kind of people. I’m talking about the big picture, here. Moreover, I am not denying that institutions such as CMU have a right to exist. I only insist that as effectively private institutions they should not have a claim to public money.
Is CAUT’s crusade against religious universities really about its opposition to private universities?
As the Canadian Association of University Teacher (CAUT) casts its web wider in its investigation of hiring practices at religious universities, new issues are being raised about the role of these types of institutions in Canada’s post-secondary community. According to Nick Martin, education reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, the question now is: “Should a university that restricts the hiring of faculty according to religious beliefs be receiving the same level of scarce public operating money as public colleges and universities?”
Martin’s article published late last week discusses CAUT’s latest probe into hiring practices, which puts the focus on Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). In October 2009, CAUT released the results of its first investigation that looked at whether Trinity Western University (TWU) was acting appropriately by requiring its professors to sign a “statement of faith.” CAUT—a union of sorts, representing faculty associations across the county, that has fought sometimes controversial fights over academic freedom since 1951—placed TWU on its blacklist of universities that violate academic freedom, effectively calling into question the school’s dedication to the very heart of what it is to be a university.
While no evidence has yet been published suggesting that CMU has a similar “faith test,” CMU president Gerald Gerbrandt told the Free Press that the province of Manitoba gave the school a mandate “to be more restrictive” by only hiring “people who are clearly Christian, that is clearly the expectation,” he said.
This practice will surely attract the disapproval of CAUT, which considers universities to have violated academic freedom if they “seek to ensure an ideologically or religiously homogeneous academic staff,” which TWU and CMU are clearly doing. CAUT is currently investigating CMU.
This is where CAUT’s argument takes a confusing turn. Martin reports that CAUT is demanding that governments only fund public institutions. At the conclusion of its TWU investigation, CAUT censured the university by placing it on its blacklist of institutions that violate academic freedom—which amounts to a virtual slap on the hand, if you will—and said no further action was planned. So by calling into question whether these schools should be funded with public dollars, CAUT is upping the stakes in its battle against religious schools.
CMU enjoys existing in a gray area by claiming to be part private part public. Interestingly, when CMU became a member of the Association of University and Colleges of Canada—which acts as an unofficial accreditation body in Canada—it claimed to be both private (it is a federation of three private colleges) and public in that it sees itself “as serving the province of Manitoba.”
CAUT executive director James Turk told the Free Press that funding for private universities is funding denied to public schools. “Canada really has no need for private institutions. They should not be receiving public money,” Turk said.
What is confusing about Turk’s comments is that there is no logical connection between being a private institution and hiring professors according to their beliefs. By going after private religious universities (most of which are non-profit, by the way) in this way, CAUT appears to be waging a broader war against these schools specifically, rather than being solely concerned about the issue of how faculty hiring affects academic freedom.
Back in January when Maclean’s published an article about TWU, the university’s president Jonathan Raymond questioned why CAUT seemed to be specifically targeting Christian universities when there have been no specific complaints from from faculty of academic freedom violations. Raymond’s question implies what Turk’s above comments seem to confirm: that CAUT’s campaign against hiring practices at religious universities is secondary to the association’s opposition to this type of institution, that its “faith test” investigations are only one part of a broader battle. Whether CAUT’s battle is against the ideology of religious universities or against private universities remains to be seen.
School reappoints unpopular business dean, CAUT calls it a “dark day”
McMaster University has renewed the term of their Dean of Business Paul Bates despite an overwhelming rejection of his leadership by faculty.
During the re-appointment process, members of the business faculty voted overwhelmingly against renewing Bates for a second term. Reliable sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the university only discussed the matter in closed session meetings, tell me 36 faculty members voted against reappointing the Dean with only six voting in favour.
In a letter published in the local newspaper, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, James Turk, called the decision by the university a “dark day for the university.”
Turk states that Bates should be resigning due to the lack of confidence that his faculty has in his ability to lead them. He calls the decision to ignore faculty opinion a “troubling message to faculty at McMaster and to the broader university world — the views of the McMaster faculty are not relevant in deciding whom the board appoints to senior administrative positions”
Teacher’s association ends inquiry on prof’s plan to observe an assisted suicide
Canadian Association of University Teachers has ended an inquiry into the actions of Kwantlen Polytechnic University administration in stopping controversial research on suicide and assisted suicide last summer.
In a bulletin, CAUT says the University has reached an agreement with professor Russel Ogden which allows him to continue his previously approved research.
RELATED: Kwantlen shuts down controversial research (7 July 2008)