After almost a year of waiting for the University of Toronto to comply with a 2003 settlement negotiated between the university and physics professor Kin-Yip Chun, a CAUT independent committee of inquiry has decided to proceed with its investigation of the conflict.
Plans for a formal inquiry were suspended last year by the inquiry committee to allow the parties time to implement a settlement reached within days of the committee's appointment in June 2003. The settlement was to be implemented immediately with some provisions delayed until Sept. 30. The university failed to meet its deadlines. Finally, last month the committee reviewed the situation and decided to carry out its inquiry.
Constance Backhouse, distinguished professor of law and director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, will chair the inquiry. Joining her on the committee is Philip W. Anderson, a Nobel laureate and emeritus professor of physics at Princeton University and William Black, a law professor at the University of British Columbia.
The committee was asked to investigate a dispute that has gone on for more than 15 years between Chun, the U of T and the physics department; to determine whether there were breaches of or threats to Chun's academic freedom, to his human rights, and to his rights as a faculty member; to determine whether there were violations of a prior agreement (signed in September 2000); to determine how allegations of systemic as well as covert discrimination can be handled by academic institutions to allow situations to be dealt with fairly, thoroughly and expeditiously and to determine appropriate ways for such disputes to be resolved.
"We hope the committee can get to the bottom of this long-standing dispute," said James Turk, executive director of CAUT.