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CAUT Bulletin Archives

January 1998

A Cautionary Tale from Carleton University

During the first week of December the Carleton University Senate voted to accept a proposal by senior administrators to close academic programs in two faculties. As at other universities, the senate is Carleton's highest authority in academic matters, and this decision was in theory taken on academic grounds.

Justice delayed kafkaesque?

I thought I was reading a Franz Kafka novel, not a report in the CAUT Bulletin (Newsline, December): Mary Warner was fired 11 years ago, but the case has apparently just been "settled?" It took six years for her to win a libel claim? Her legal costs are now over $200,000?

Research community loses an eloquent advocate

The research community has lost a passionate and eloquent advocate through the death of Dr. Keith Brimacombe on Dec. 16, in Vancouver of a heart attack. It was only this past October that he assumed the tremendous challenge of becoming the president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). My sense is that this was an inspired choice of the right person at the right place at the right time.

Celebrating the sell-out of university research

Under the ironically titled caption "Good Research Makes Good News," the latest fulminations of NSERC president Tom Brztustowski were recently declared in selected Canadian university bulletins and publications. Brztustowski celebrates a growing success story in which researchers across Canada are at the leading edge of service to the corporate imperative of technology, profit and sales.

Mary Warner footnote

I am writing to add a brief footnote to the account of the settlement reached in Mary Warner's 11-year battle with Brock University (Bulletin, December).

End research secrecy for public good

In his dismissal of our criticism of the research funding system, Mark Bisby pays particular attention to the secrecy of proposals (Letters, December). He asserts that this is needed to protect the ideas of researchers from their competitors. Sorry, but unlike real estate, science does not have property lines.

Where's the proof that MRC's 'got it right'

I do not hold a brief for A. Berezin and his coauthors who are quite capable of responding for themselves to the assertion of the new director of the MRC Programs Branch that all is well with the peer review process (Letters, December). However, I would like to comment on some of Dr. Bisby's assumptions.

Library takes brunt of cuts at Algoma

As the faculty association representative on the exigency committee, I would like to thank Ron Melchers for his invaluable guidance and service during the investigative process, for the contribution he made in drafting the final unanimous report of the committee, and for the article he wrote for the Bulletin ("Algoma University College: Financial Exigency Declaration Averted," December) reporting on the exigency process at Algoma. He accurately observes that "There are lessons to be learned from this experience by other institutions."

Good review silent on main drawback to enlarging the role of religion

Keith Cassidy's review of George Marsden's books (Bookshelf, November) was one of the most interesting and provocative pieces I have seen on the Bookshelf page. Prof. Cassidy's collection of materials is useful and his ability to summarize complex arguments is impressive. I would call it quite a "friendly" review concluding as it does that what Marsden is seeking is "a truly inclusive scholarship and university curriculum."

Feminists, too, need rational self-discipline

The article in the November issue, "The Subtleties of Silence Can Be Deafening," reveals the blinders worn by its author.

Creeping Privatization Threatens Autonomy

Large-scale social and political change is a bit like snow in Timmins or rain in Vancouver - it can sneak up on you. By the time you notice, the effects are pervasive and irreversible. The rising popularity of privatization in Canada's public colleges and universities reminds me of the weather, and it has the feel of large-scale change.

Librarians Grapple with Tough Issues

Status & Governance: realizing Academic Power - What Next? That was the theme of CAUT's Librarians' Conference held in St. John's, Newfoundland, during the first weekend in November.

Federal Merit Awards for Employment Equity Initiatives

The Ministry of Human Resources Development has announced the 1997 merit award winners for initiatives in employment equity, undertaken under the Federal Contractors Program. Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) has established two types of awards: Vision Awards and Certificates of Merit. This year, the University of British Columbia received a Vision Award and the University of Windsor received a Certificate of Merit.

Professors Approve Boycott of Technical University

On Nov. 22 representatives of more than 70 Canadian university faculty organizations gave formal approval to a plan to boycott the controversial Technical University of British Columbia (TechBC). International faculty organizations are anxious to see the British Columbia legislation amended to protect academic freedom and academic governance. Now that Canadian faculty associations have agreed to a long-term strategy on TechBC, the way is open for international academics to begin their campaigns.

The History Behind the UNESCO Statement

The saga began 30 years ago when UNESCO adopted a recommendation on the status of teachers. This was designed to set out the rights and responsibilities of primary and secondary school teachers. At the time there were demands to expand this document to include higher education but this did not happen. Since then UNESCO has created documents on the rights of scientific workers and of artists, but despite considerable effort, nothing was done officially by UNESCO in regard to higher education teachers until the General Conference of 1993.

Is the Recommendation Legally Binding?

The UNESCO recommendation is not a convention and is, therefore, not legally binding on the member states. Such UNESCO statements have, however, considerable moral force, and UNESCO hopes that member states will live up to the obligations for which they voted at the general conference. It also expects that various aspects of a statement such as this one would be incorporated into the laws and practices of the member states. Such documents tend to develop a life of their own. The more they are used and quoted around the world, the more effective they become.

A Look at the UNESCO Recommendation

On Nov. 11, 1997 the General Conference of UNESCO adopted a statement on the rights and responsibilities of higher education teaching personnel. Excerpts are highlighted below. This is an unofficial version available at The official version will be on the UNESCO web site in due course.

What is UNESCO?

UNESCO is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations.

International Statement Adopted by UNESCO

In November, the governing body of UNESCO, meeting in Paris, adopted an international statement on the rights and responsibilities of higher education teaching personnel. This was the culmination of a long campaign by CAUT and other national federations of academic staff to secure an international standard dealing with academic freedom as well as the civil, economic and other rights of faculty and to spell out the responsibilities that went with these rights. The statement also sets out a standard for the autonomy of higher education including institutional rights, duties and responsibilities.

Research Consortium Launches Pre-Budget Lobby

The Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR) is the name enthusiastically adopted in 1997 for what was previously known as the National Consortium of Educational and Scientific Societies. CCR trips off the tongue much more readily and the name succinctly captures the focus of the 24 member organizations.