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CAUT Bulletin Archives

January 2005

Independent Panel Named to Investigate Memorial

CAUT has established an independent committee of inquiry to look into alleged violations of academic freedom and faculty rights in the faculty of medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland and in its affiliated health care institutions.

"Individual faculty members in medicine and the university's faculty association have brought to CAUT's attention a number of concerns about the treatment of academic staff in the medical school," said James Turk, executive director of CAUT.

"In the view of the CAUT executive, these concerns required a thorough and dispassionate investigation by an independent committee of inquiry."

The inquiry is chaired by Albert Katz, a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario. Katz received his BSc from McGill University and his MA and PhD from the University of Western Ontario. He has taught at Western since 1976 and a visiting research scholar at the University of California at Berkeley.

Joining Katz on the committee is Philippe De Wals, a professor and director of the department of social and preventative medicine at Laval University. De Wals earned his MD and PhD at the Catholic University of Louvain. He came to Canada in 1990 and served as director of the department of community health sciences at the University of Sherbrooke. In 1997-1998, he was a visiting public health professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the recipient of the Jean Van Beneden Prize for distinguished achievement in public health research.

The third member is Lori West, head of transplant cardiology at the Hospital for Sick Children - one of the largest pediatric heart transplant programs in the world. West is an associate professor of medicine (paediatrics and physiology) at the University of Toronto. She received her BSc from the University of Florida, her MD from Tulane and her DPhil from Oxford.

The inquiry's terms of reference are to investigate allegations of violations of academic freedom and faculty rights in the faculty of medicine at Memorial and at its affiliated health care institutions; to determine whether the university and its affiliated health care institutions have treated members of the faculty of medicine in a manner that is unfair, unreasonable or inequitable; to determine whether there were breaches of or threats to academic freedom; and to make any appropriate recommendations.

"Under CAUT guidelines, independent committees of inquiry are completely autonomous," Turk said. "The committee undertakes its investigation and writes its report, and the first CAUT will learn the content of that report is when it's published and released to the public."