President Barnard responds to CAUT report on Faculty of Architecture
In response to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) report on the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture issued on February 6, 2015, President Barnard issued the following communication to Faculty of Architecture faculty members.
As you may know, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has issued a report following its investigation into allegations of interference by the Dean into various faculty activities and violations of academic freedom in the Faculty of Architecture.
As I made clear regarding the recent CAUT report on the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Arts, I have serious concerns with CAUT’s intrusion into matters outside of its jurisdiction and the associated deficiencies in due process that result. A number of economics faculty members came forward publicly to attack the credibility of last month’s CAUT report, and already architecture faculty members have written me with serious concerns about the most recent CAUT report.
I will respond in greater detail when I have had an opportunity to assess more thoroughly the report and its implications, but my initial review of the CAUT report has identified several significant flaws. It provides an accounting of events that is incomplete and inaccurate. I am aware that persons named in the report were sent a copy of the preliminary findings and an invitation to respond, yet the concerns raised in their responses appear to have been largely ignored by the Committee. The report also indicates that, to ensure fairness, persons potentially affected by the Committee’s findings were each given the opportunity to respond. However, Dr. Joanne Keselman, Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, was not provided with this opportunity, though she is named in the report. The Committee’s lack of commitment to accuracy and fairness has resulted in a report that is unbalanced; suffering from egregious conflation and over-simplification; and ultimately misleading.
At the University of Manitoba we have internal processes where concerns of the type expressed in this report can be brought forward, investigated and resolved. Those processes, unlike that used by CAUT, are fair, balanced and have the ability to collect and weigh complete information. The CAUT Committee’s work not only ignores these processes, it interferes with them.
This report is particularly harmful in that it targets a specific individual, the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, without affording him the right to due process and natural justice. As the Dean’s appointment is coming to the end of its term this year, a reappointment review committee, which completed its initial deliberations prior to the release of the Report, will be concluding its work and tendering its recommendation as part of the reappointment review process. I assure you the University of Manitoba will not allow CAUT’s interference to taint this process. I have full confidence in those conducting the review. Similarly, this report will have no bearing whatsoever on the search for a permanent Head for the Department of Architecture.
To the faculty members in the Faculty of Architecture, please know that the University of Manitoba supports your ongoing efforts in teaching, discovery and outreach. A report such as CAUT’s can be divisive and have a deleterious impact on students, and I would ask you to work together to instill confidence in the incredible skills of your colleagues and the excellent educational experience offered by the Faculty. I am confident that good processes will unfold, both at the Faculty level and for the Department, that will ensure strong leadership and successful academic endeavours in the years to come.
How is it possible that THREE fulltime, tenured faculty choose to leave their tenured positions rather than remain under the Deanship of Ralph Stern? Yet after three resignations, the President of the University of Manitoba claims there is no problem and no basis for complaints. The President displays nothing but contempt for the university community with such stonewalling.
Smoke and mirrors by the President, unfortunately. CAUT presented an investigative report, and the University responds with “but it’s not true!” and “we can handle our own problems, we don’t need oversight,” rather than directly rebutting the points made in the report. If everything within the faculty is sailing so smoothly, none of this would be happening in the first place. I’ve witnessed Dean Stern’s behaviour and actions first hand, and I fully support the findings of the CAUT report, as does every single faculty member I’ve spoken with in private – and that’s a substantial number.