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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 1998

UCCB Condemned for Hiring Practice

A bizarre hiring practice at the University College of Cape Breton has again become a contentious issue as the university college searches for a new dean of arts and letters. Ironically, it is a "letter" that sparked the controversy in the first place.

Applicants were not told in the advertisement that the successful candidate must sign an undated letter of resignation before taking up the position. Faculty members in the department have asked President Jacquelyn Scott to abandon the practice, but she has refused.

In November the University College of Cape Breton Faculty Association issued a press release condemning the practice. "The President's practice is dangerous," said faculty association president Professor Michael Manson. "It threatens to undermine the quality of the education the students are receiving at UCCB."

"The deans are the senior academic officers and they must protect academic freedom -- the most basic right of university teachers."

Professor Manson further asserts President Scott's practice may prevent the deans from discussing freely and critically UCCB policies with their faculty for fear the President might dismiss them. "Can the faculty feel confident that the deans understand and support the need for faculty to discuss controversial or unpopular issues when the deans have signed away their own right to speak openly and be protected against reprisals?"

Moreover, the faculty association is concerned that President Scott's requirement could lead to the hiring of a dean whose qualifications are not the best.

The faculty association has been unable to find another university in the country that has a similar hiring practice.