Updated: March 16, 4:15 p.m.
Laurentian University has issued a statement in response to a CAUT investigation that administrators changed grades without instructors’ agreement, blocked the appointment of elected chairs, interfered in hiring decisions, and improperly used discipline.
The statement is as follows:
Academic freedom is one of the core values of Laurentian University.
The University has a duty to protect and defend the search for knowledge and truth by all who enquire, teach, offer professional library service and learn under its auspices.
Laurentian supports the principles of academic freedom and collegial governance.
Faculty members who believe that their academic freedom is violated have the right to file a grievance under the collective agreement. As the CAUT report notes, most of the concerns raised in today’s report have already been settled through the grievance process.
Others haven’t been raised before today, either through a grievance or through senate proceedings.
The report submitted by CAUT does not pertain to academic freedom. It deals with three areas:
The first two relate to alleged “interference in collegial governance” and “improper use of disciplinary measures” in the Faculty of Arts. The University honours its collective agreement in such matters.
Concerns have been addressed through either the grievance, arbitration, or collective bargaining process.
The third area is “failure to maintain faculty complement”. Laurentian has among the lowest student-faculty ratios in the country.
The University is committed to working constructively with LUFA as we have done in the past.
Recognizing that we may have respectful differences of opinions, we have mechanisms to resolve those differences when they occur.
An investigation into Laurentian University has concluded that senior officials have routinely violated academic freedom and principles of collegial governance.
An investigatory committee was established by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) following numerous complaints by faculty at Laurentian, including allegations that administrators changed grades without instructors’ agreement, blocked the appointment of elected chairs, interfered in hiring decisions, and improperly used discipline, a press release said.
“(We) were left with a disturbing picture of an environment in which the principles of academic freedom and collegial governance are not consistently adhered to,” the committee’s report concludes.
“We found numerous incidents…in which university officials appeared to have acted outside of the applicable academic rules, failed to respect principles of collegial governance and improperly used or threatened to use disciplinary powers.”
The report notes that the actions of university officials have led many faculty to conclude that their academic freedom is under threat.
“[W]e want to emphasize the overarching need for the university administration to affirm its support for and commitment to the principles of academic freedom and collegial governance and their application in the day to day governance of the university.”
The report was prepared by: Dr. Sheila Embleton, FRSC, Distinguished Research Professor of Linguistics, York University; and, Professor Eric Tucker, Osgoode Hall Law School, and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, the press release said.
The full report is available online here.
More to come on this story.