November 2006 Fighting the War on Dogma Over the past four decades, the unusual pressures to which universities have been subjected have seen them undergo slow and subtle, but in the long run deeply subversive, changes. During her long tenure, Margaret Thatcher insisted that higher education’s main task was to serve society by producing the trained manpower needed to maintain Britain’s competitive position in the global market. Universities were to teach subjects of proven economic value, maximise their productivity, run themselves as efficiently as corporations and expect to be scrutinised for the way they spent taxpayers’ money. Strategies to Renew our Ranks I wrote in my October column about the importance of integrating newly-hired colleagues into academic life and our academic staff associations. These concerns are even more timely in the context of a rising average age of academic staff and with a whole generation of academics close to retirement. The challenge facing post-secondary institutions today is to attract, and keep, promising new scholars to fill the ranks. Academic staff associations likewise must devise renewal strategies to ensure strong and active participation since they will also soon be losing a large cohort of long-term and often very active members. Arar Report a Victory for Civil Liberties, CAUT Says A commission of inquiry’s long-awaited report about the behaviour of Canadian officials in what happened to Maher Arar has created a national reassessment of the proper role of security forces in Canada today. CLTA Blues Greg Allain’s article “Challenges Facing New Academics” (Bulletin, October 2006) somewhat alleviates the depressive mood I have been in since my return to my regular duties from a productive and happy field season. B.C. Group Calls for Suspension of Lansbridge Operations Academic staff in British Columbia are calling on the provincial government to suspend operations at Lansbridge University following revelations that owner Michael Lo was illegally offering degrees at a sister school in the province. Plan for Spying on Students under Fire The British government’s Department for Education and Skills wants campus staff to spy on Muslim and “Asian-looking” students, the Guardian newspaper reported last month. AAUP Questions Scope of Research Ethics Boards Research ethics boards were never designed for oversight of journalism programs or surveys by sociology majors and have gone well beyond their mandates and purpose, and in the process harming scholarly work, a recent report from the American Association of University Professors warns. UBCFA Awarded $100,000 to Defend Academic Freedom CAUT president Greg Allain presented a cheque for $100,000 to the University of British Columbia Faculty Association last month to ensure it will be able to keep up its fight for academic freedom and faculty rights in the face of unprecedented actions by the UBC administration. 96% at Carleton Vote for Strike Carleton University academic staff members have voted 96 per cent in favour of strike action in an attempt to reach a new collective agreement BUFA Members Vote for Strike Brock University faculty and librarians, fed up with stalled contract negotiations and contentious meetings that have stretched for six months, voted 88 per cent in support of a vote authorizing their union executive to call a strike. 88% Say ‘Yes’ in Saint Mary’s Strike Vote Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union will call a strike if agreement on a new contract with the university can’t be reached in conciliation this month. Feds: $1 Billion in Spending Cuts Citing budgetary restraint and smart use of money, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government announced a series of spending cuts Sept. 25 of approximately $1 billion over the next two years. The cutbacks were unveiled the same day the government announced it had a $13.2 billion surplus for the fiscal year that ended last March 31, which would be used to pay down the national debt. Ontario Universities Forcing Retirees Out as Mandatory Retirement Ends Ontario’s public universities are applying retirement rules differently, leaving some academic staff with no choice but to retire when they turn 65, and others with the choice to keep working. CAUT Defence Fund Elects New President University of Prince Edward Island biologist Larry Hale was elected to a two-year term as president of the CAUT Defence Fund during last month’s board of trustees meeting in Toronto. Hale takes over from Jean-Charles Cachon of Laurentian University, who served as the fund’s chair and president for the past four years.