Academic Freedom & Tenure for Some But Not All?

Recent events at the University of Saskatchewan have brought to light, the unspoken, silent developments on who ‘really’ have the benefits of tenure and academic freedom. Questions such as, do faculty in senior administrative positions have the same academic freedom and security of tenure as the faculty who are teaching and pursuing their research? As academic librarians we know the long, historical struggle of retaining ‘academic freedom’ and, while not called tenure at U of T the equivalent of ‘permanent status’. We also know the growing trend of including termination clauses due to financial exigencies and other reasons that have been appearing in collective agreements, for not just librarians but also faculty. The inclusion of article 46, Termination of Appointments with Permanent Status in our Policy for Librarians, by the Executive Committee of Governing Council in 1978 after it has been approved by Academic Affairs was one of the reasons why UTFA never signed this policy. UTFA was never consulted on its inclusion but simply informed after the fact. Now it seems, as we have seen at the University of Saskatchewan, there are attempts to re-define tenure and academic freedom for faculty at the Dean’s level or higher at Canadian universities. This is of interest to all faculty and librarians. CAUT has a recent article on some of these issues by Len Findlay: http://www.cautbulletin.ca/en_article.asp?articleid=3873

Posted in Academic freedom, CAUT, Tenure, University of Saskatchewan | Leave a comment

UofT Researcher Seized in Tajikistan – Urgent, Sign Petition

University of Toronto Statement

We are deeply concerned to hear reports that one of our Ph.D. students, Alexander Sodiqov, has been detained in Tajikistan, where he has been conducting research under the auspices of a UK-based project called “Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia.” The Department joins the University in urging the relevant officials to see to it that Alex’s rights are protected.

http://politics.utoronto.ca/2014/06/21/ph-d-student-alexander-sodiqov-detained-in-tajikstan/comment-page-2/#comment-25765

University of Toronto Statement
Departmental Response
The Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto is deeply concerned about the recent detention of its doctoral student Alexander Sodiqov.  Sodiqov was detained on June 16, 2014, in Khorog, Tajikistan, where he was conducting research on civil society and conflict management. Sodiqov is a serious-minded researcher committed to improving our understanding of conflict resolution in Tajikistan and across the globe.   As Sodiqov’s professors and colleagues, we urge the relevant authorities to ensure that Sodiqov’s rights are fully respected.

Ryan Balot
Professor and Acting Chair
Louis W. Pauly
Professor and Chair
Edward Schatz
Associate Professor and Chair, UTM

See Toronto Star article: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/06/18/u_of_t_student_detained_in_tajikistan_accused_of_spying.html

Alexander Sodiqov was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict resolution in Tajikistan when he was suddenly seized and charged with “subversion and espionage” on June 16.

It has been reported that Mr. Sodiqov has not been able to contact his family or a lawyer since his detention. Human rights organizations are also closely monitoring his case. Hundreds of scholars have signed a petition calling for the full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s civil liberties and human rights.”

- See more at: http://www.caut.ca/news/2014/06/20/caut-urges-release-of-u-of-t-researcher-detained-in-tajikistan#sthash.dE8qpblo.dpuf

Alexander Sodiqov was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict resolution in Tajikistan when he was suddenly seized and charged with “subversion and espionage” on June 16.

 It has been reported that Mr. Sodiqov has not been able to contact his family or a lawyer since his detention. Human rights organizations are also closely monitoring his case. Hundreds of scholars have signed a petition calling for the full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s civil liberties and human rights.

- See more at: http://www.caut.ca/news/2014/06/20/caut-urges-release-of-u-of-t-researcher-detained-in-tajikistan#sthash.dE8qpblo.dpuf

Alexander Sodiqov was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict resolution in Tajikistan when he was suddenly seized and charged with “subversion and espionage” on June 16.

 It has been reported that Mr. Sodiqov has not been able to contact his family or a lawyer since his detention. Human rights organizations are also closely monitoring his case. Hundreds of scholars have signed a petition calling for the full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s civil liberties and human rights.

- See more at: http://www.caut.ca/news/2014/06/20/caut-urges-release-of-u-of-t-researcher-detained-in-tajikistan#sthash.dE8qpblo.dpuf

(Ottawa – June 20, 2014) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling on the Government of Tajikistan to immediately release a University of Toronto doctoral student detained by authorities.

 Alexander Sodiqov was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict resolution in Tajikistan when he was suddenly seized and charged with “subversion and espionage” on June 16.

 It has been reported that Mr. Sodiqov has not been able to contact his family or a lawyer since his detention. Human rights organizations are also closely monitoring his case. Hundreds of scholars have signed a petition calling for the full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s civil liberties and human rights.

 CAUT encourages its members to add their name to the petition urging the Government of Tajikistan to immediately release Mr. Sodigov.

- See more at: http://www.caut.ca/news/2014/06/20/caut-urges-release-of-u-of-t-researcher-detained-in-tajikistan#sthash.dE8qpblo.dpuf

(Ottawa – June 20, 2014) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling on the Government of Tajikistan to immediately release a University of Toronto doctoral student detained by authorities.

 Alexander Sodiqov was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict resolution in Tajikistan when he was suddenly seized and charged with “subversion and espionage” on June 16.

 It has been reported that Mr. Sodiqov has not been able to contact his family or a lawyer since his detention. Human rights organizations are also closely monitoring his case. Hundreds of scholars have signed a petition calling for the full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s civil liberties and human rights.

 CAUT encourages its members to add their name to the petition urging the Government of Tajikistan to immediately release Mr. Sodigov.

- See more at: http://www.caut.ca/news/2014/06/20/caut-urges-release-of-u-of-t-researcher-detained-in-tajikistan#sthash.dE8qpblo.dpuf

(Ottawa – June 20, 2014) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling on the Government of Tajikistan to immediately release a University of Toronto doctoral student detained by authorities.

 Alexander Sodiqov was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict resolution in Tajikistan when he was suddenly seized and charged with “subversion and espionage” on June 16.

 It has been reported that Mr. Sodiqov has not been able to contact his family or a lawyer since his detention. Human rights organizations are also closely monitoring his case. Hundreds of scholars have signed a petition calling for the full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s civil liberties and human rights.

 CAUT encourages its members to add their name to the petition urging the Government of Tajikistan to immediately release Mr. Sodigov.

- See more at: http://www.caut.ca/news/2014/06/20/caut-urges-release-of-u-of-t-researcher-detained-in-tajikistan#sthash.dE8qpblo.dpuf

Posted in Academic freedom, Alexander Sodiqov, CAUT | Leave a comment

Statement on the Mackintosh Library Collections – Fire May 23, 2014

For  a synopsis of what was destroyed and saved in the fire started in the Mackintosh Building of the Glasgow School of Art see:

http://gsalibrarytreasures.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/statement-on-the-mackintosh-library-collections/

Posted in Glasgow School of Art | Leave a comment

University of Saskatchewan: Open Letter from Jim Turk, CAUT

Greetings,

In yesterday’s Globe and Mail, University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera continued the assault on the concept of academic freedom initiated by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) in 2011. [See her article “When universities make choices, deans must fall in line” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/when-universities-make-choices-deans-must-fall-in-line/article18880531/ ]

In Samarasekera’s world (like that of her association of university presidents), academic freedom no longer protects the right to criticize the administration of your institution nor does it include your right to exercise your civil liberties as a citizen without sanction by the university. In her world, deans owe a duty of loyalty to the president rather than to their colleagues in the faculty, college or school of which they are the dean. That would the case in the corporate world, and it would be the case in the academic world in the absence of our century-old tradition of collegial governance and academic freedom. Loyalty to the president has no place in university governance. Open, vigorous critique and reasoned argument are the right of all academics. There are plenty of institutions in our society where CEO’s can command loyalty. If that is what  university presidents want, they should work in those settings rather than try to minimize the rights of genuine academic freedom and collegial governance which are the foundation of every legitimate university.

Below is a letter to the Globe and Mail that I submitted this morning in response to Samarasekera’s  article:

It is troubling when the president of one of Canada’s most respected universities does not understand that a central aspect of academic freedom is the right of all academics to speak critically about any aspect of the operation of their institution. Unlike in other organizations, no one owes a duty of loyalty to university presidents.  Rather presidents, like all academic staff, should expect their ideas, proposals and decisions to be subject to critical appraisal. The appeal to “cabinet solidarity” is simply an effort to avoid accountability.  In any case, deans are not part of the president’s cabinet.  They are the senior academics in each faculty, school or college and have an obligation to speak out for the best interests of the part of the institution they represent. Silencing them in the name of deference to the president may appeal to the president but undermines their role and diminishes the institution.

In the face of what happened at the University of Saskatchewan and the continuing efforts by AUCC to undermine academic freedom and collegial governance, we all have an obligation to speak out more than ever.

Sincerely,

Jim

James L. Turk // Executive Director / Directeur général // Canadian Association of University Teachers / Association canadienne des professeures et professeurs d’université // 2705 promenade Queensview Drive / Ottawa, (Ontario) / K2B 8K2 // tél  613.726-5176 / téléc  613.820-7244 / mobile  613.277-0488 / turk@caut.ca  / twitter @jameslturk

Posted in Academic freedom, Academic governance, Academic Librarianship, CAUT, University of Saskatchewan | Leave a comment

UTFA Executive 2014 – 2015: New Appointments

Two UofT librarians will continue on the UTFA Executive for the following year. The Nominations Committee and UTFA Council have confirmed the following appointments for the UTFA Executive:

Paul Downes, Vice-President, Salary, Benefits and Pensions
Cynthia Messenger, Vice-President, Grievances
Linda Kohn, Vice-President, University and External Affairs
Michael Meth, Treasurer
Harriet Sonne De Torrens, Chair, Librarians Committee
Claude Evans, Chair, Teaching Stream Committee
Rosa Sarabia, Member-at-Large

Posted in Academic governance, Academic Librarianship, University of Toronto, University of Toronto Libraries, UTFA | Leave a comment

University of Saskatchewan & Academic Freedom

For recent developments over the dismissal of Prof. Robert Buckingham due to his open criticism of proposed changes in the TransformUS plan, see the termination of the president, Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/university-of-saskatchewan-board-fires-president-ilene-busch-vishniac-1.2650301 .

We need to think about what constitutes ‘academic freedom’ today at our post-secondary institutions. At UofT in the Memorandum of Agreement, Article 5, “Academic Freedom and Responsibilities” includes:

“The parties to this Agreement acknowledge that the University is committed to the pursuit of truth, the advancement of learning, and the dissemination of knowledge. To this end, they agree to abide by the principles of academic freedom as expressed in the following statement: academic freedom is the freedom to examine, question, teach, and learn, and it involves the right to investigate, speculate, and comment without reference to prescribed doctrine, as well as the right to criticize the University and society at large. Specifically, and without limiting the above, academic freedom entitles faculty and librarians to:

(a) freedom in carrying out their activities:
(b) freedom in pursuing research and scholarship and in publishing or making public the results thereof; and
(c) freedom from institutional censorship. Academic freedom does not require neutrality on the part of the individual nor does it preclude commitment on the part of the individual. Rather academic freedom makes such commitment possible.

A librarian’s professional obligations and responsibilities shall encompass (i) the development of his or her professional knowledge and performance, (ii) contributions to scholarship, (iii) service to the University. While the patterns of these duties may vary from individual to individual, they constitute the librarian’s principal obligation during the employment year. A librarian shall cany out his or her responsibilities with all due attention to the establishment of fair and ethical dealings with library users, colleagues and staff taking care to be properly accessible. A librarian shall foster a free exchange of ideas and shall not impose nor permit censorship. A librarian shall ensure the fullest possible access to library materials.”

But, lest we forget, Canadians are guaranteed the fundamental right of “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which forms the first part of the Canadian Constitution Act (1982). As we have read recently, Canadian courts have ruled in a number of cases involving the University of Calgary, that the institutional guidelines cannot supersede upon or deny these fundamental rights. In addition, we should not forget that Canadians have a long-standing tradition for supporting the principles of academic freedom in the history of Canadian universities, as in the example of the well known Harry Crowe case, and the subsequent establishment of Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). Previous cases concerning academic freedom issues over the decades have illustrated how deeply felt these principles are within our public, post-secondary institutions and when denied, how long-lasting the negative consequences can be for the whole community.

Posted in Academic Librarianship, MoA - UofT Memorandum of Agreement with Administration, Uncategorized, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto | Leave a comment

Sign Open Letter to University of Saskatchewan Board Chair, Ms. Milburn

The shock of what has transpired at the University of Saskatchewan has prompted a range of responses from Canadian academic communities.As academic librarians we understand the role of academic freedom in our professional lives, as a right and as a responsibility to our users. Let’s show our support and concern, sign on at this site:

http://artssquared.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/canadas-academics-invited-to-sign-on-to-open-letter-to-university-of-saskatchewan-board-chair-ms-susan-milburn/#comment-3113

For further reading see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/university-of-saskatchewan-leaders-to-hold-emergency-meeting-1.2647390

http://www.news.nom.co/caut-urges-university-of-saskatchewan-9501202-news/

VP Resigns http://blogs.ubc.ca/workplace/2014/05/usask-vp-resigns-in-wake-of-academicfreedom-scandal-edstudies-ubc-caut-aaup/

Posted in Academic freedom, Academic Librarianship, University of Saskatchewan | Leave a comment