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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2013

CAUT launches inquiry at McGill over firing of distinguished prof

CAUT has established an ad hoc investigatory committee to examine McGill University’s dismissal of tenured full professor of psychology Avi Chaudhuri.

In a Sept. 5, 2013, letter to McGill University principal Suzanne For­tier, CAUT executive director James Turk said the committee is being asked to examine the reasons for, and the background to, the university’s special audit of Chaudhuri in October 2008; to determine whether the university complied with its policies and procedures in the special audit and subsequent dismissal of Chaudhuri; to determine whether the university complied with the policy of the Tri-Agencies in the investigation of allegations of research misconduct by Chaudhuri; to determine whether the university’s decision to fire Chaudhuri was consistent with past practice; to determine whether the university’s decision to fire Chaudhuri was consistent with academic norms in Canada; to determine whether the university’s policies and procedures relating to research, consulting and entrepreneurial activities provided adequate guidance and safeguards in Chau­dhuri’s case.

The committee is also being asked to make recommendations for Canadian university policy and procedures in relation to academic researchers who are involved in consulting activities and/or entrepreneurial activity in relation to their research.

The members of the investigatory committee are John G. Kingma, professor of medicine at Laval University and Robin Whyte, professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie University.

Chaudhuri received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley under the supervision of Nobel physicist Donald Glaser. He spent three years at The Salk Institute in La Jolla as a postdoctoral fellow and in 1993 joined the faculty of McGill University where he held an endowed Chair (James McGill Professor) and operated a highly active laboratory that conducted research on molecular and behavioural neuroscience. He has also served in administrative positions at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA and as director of the Behavioural Neuroscience Program at McGill. Chaudhuri has received numerous awards for his research, including the Medical Research Council Fellowship and the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan research fellowship.