In September 2011, former member of the University of Ottawa Senate Joseph Hickey filed an access to information (ATI) request for all communications between university president Allan Rock and his former chief of staff Stephane Emard-Chabot.
As was previously reported on this blog, the university initially refused to process Mr. Hickey’s ATI request and closed the file and returned the filing fee.
Mr. Hickey appealed, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario (IPC) ordered the university to process the ATI request. The university then issued an “access decision”, providing access to some records and denying access to others.
Mr. Hickey appealed the access decision to the IPC, and received a decision dated June 25, 2015 ordering the university to disclose additional records. The additional records had been withheld on the basis of Section 18(1) of Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is intended to protect the economic interests of institutions. The IPC adjudicator ordered all records withheld under section 18(1) released. The new records are posted in a PDF at the link here.
Some of the new records of note are:
- Records 244, 246, and 257 (beginning at pgs. 225, 228, and 237 in the PDF): $585,000 spent under “management authority” re: plans for new building
- Record 192 (pg. 162): A. Rock’s “secret fund” to pay for high-profile speaker
- Record 151 (pg. 133): Funding for A. Rock’s 2-year travel plan may be shifted from provincially-mandated 10% cut to “executive offices” (see also Record 176 at pg. 150)
- Records 286 and 287 (pg. 253): A. Rock to appear as intro for “respect in the workplace” video
- Record 87 (pg. 85): F. Houle concerned about A. Rock’s confidence in his abilities as VP Academic
- Record 5 (pg. 4): Dean of Law listed as nominator for honorary doctorate, but incapable of supporting nomination
Former member of the University of Ottawa Senate Joseph Hickey has made public his typed notes from the wrongful dismissal arbitration of Professor of Physics Denis Rancourt.
In the introduction to his document, Hickey states that:
“It is my hope that these notes, exhibits, and collected reports will be of use to researchers, students, and other members of the community concerned with the institutional behaviour of universities in Canada and elsewhere.”
The document contains a collection of background information and reports for Days 1-15 of the arbitration hearings, and Hickey’s typed transcript-notes and copies of media articles that appeared during Days 17-28 of hearings.
A .zip folder containing copies of the exhibits entered into evidence during the arbitration is available at the link here. The exhibits are referred to in Hickey’s notes as they were introduced by the lawyers during the hearings.
La Rotonde has posted a video (in french) of its recent interview with University of Ottawa President Allan Rock.
At 1:40 in the video, Allan Rock is asked why the university’s new Security and Policy Institute (SPI) program was not approved by the university Senate or Board of Governors.
An English translation of this segment of the video (beginning at 1:40 and ending at 3:34) is as follows (free translation):
LR: Our next question is about the Security and Policy Institute.
LR: So, since the Board of Governors and the Senate were not consulted, we would like to know who approved the program and why there were no consultations?
Rock: Yes. Generally, when we launch a new program, whether it’s in Science, or the Faculty of Arts, or somewhere, we have a consultation and then we also have an analysis and discussions at the level of the Senate and its committees. In this case, we are talking about a program that is non-academic, in the sense that it’s not credited, it’s a program which is offered to people who are implicated in the domain, so that they can perfect their skills, in the professional sense. So, given that it’s not an academic program, we don’t need approval from the Senate and we did not initiate a consultation like we would do with an academic program. The Continuing Education Centre exists in order to give people who are already in the job market a means of improving and perfecting their professional skills — we hire people mostly from outside the university as teachers — so it’s not an academic program as such. We use the framework of the university to offer professional programs, and we also hope to generate additional revenue for the university.
Video by La Rotonde:
La Rotonde has published a new interview with U of O President Allan Rock (see here).
Security and Policy Institute (SPI)
The university’s new “SPI” program was unveiled at a posh reception at the end of last summer, and has been criticized as a project of geopolitics and globalization, in part due to its funding that comes from Symantec, a major U.S. company with military ties in the U.S. and Israel.
La Rotonde asked President Rock why the SPI program was not presented for approval to the university’s Senate or Board of Governors. His reply is as follows (free translation):
“It’s a service offered by the Centre for Continuing Education. The Centre’s objective is to offer non-credited professional training. Programs are not approved by the Senate because the programs are not academic. It’s not an academic activity in the sense that it would have to have approval of the Senate because a degree is awarded. [The training] is aside from the central mission of the university and it’s a means of generating revenue to help us in our main mission, which is the academic programs. According to us, we don’t need approval from the Senate or Board.”
Rock further explained that the upper administration of the university approved the SPI program.
One would think that programs that are not academic do not belong in a university, but then again one might think the U of O is not much of a university.
For comparison with the President’s statement, S. 17 of the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, the Ontario statute that governs the U of O, establishes that the university Senate is “responsible for the educational policy of the University and… has power, (a) to control, regulate and determine the educational policy of the University…; [and] (b) to determine courses of study…”
Student Code of Conduct
The spectre of a student code of non-academic conduct has returned to U of O.
La Rotonde asked for Mr. Rock’s comments about the possible re-introduction of a student Code. His response (free translation) was as follows:
“It’s up to the Working Group to decide exactly what they will recommend. I think it was in 2007-2008 that the university proposed the code of conduct, and it was not well-received. There were inadequate consultations, and all that, but I would rather not prejudge the Working Group’s report. It’s up to them to decide what their judgment is concerning the appropriate steps at present. And I imagine it’s possible that they will recommend a code of conduct, but we will have to wait for the report.
I think the most appropriate thing for me to do is wait for the Working Group’s report and to not influence their analysis or pre-judge what they will recommend. It’s up to them [the members of the Working Group] to analyze the current situation and come up with their recommendations. And naturally, we will make their report public, and we will have a discussion — we will decide what to do, but it’s not up to me to judge. I will wait for their report.”
Former Student Senator and former University of Ottawa student Hazel Gashoka wrote to Allan Rock to determine whether or not the University of Ottawa plans on funding a lawsuit against her. This is his response:
From: Alastair Mullin
To: Hazel Gashoka
Date: April 9, 2013
Subject: RE: Your answer requested
We are in receipt of your e-mails of February 11 and March 5, 2013. Following our discussion this afternoon, I spoke with Mr. Rock to confirm that at this juncture the university has no plans to fund such a suit.
PhD student Nicholas Ali of the University of Ottawa reports he has been denied an oral defense of his thesis, despite having his thesis research published as 5 articles in peer-reviewed journals in his field:
University of Ottawa Doctoral Candidate Withdrawn from Program despite extraordinary academic achievements, evidence of bias, and administrative injustices
(OTTAWA, May 25, 2013) – Mr. Nicholas Ali, former PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, was informed on May 10, 2013 that his appeal with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS) Executive Committee was denied.
After over 5 years of research, tireless hard work, and publishing his doctoral thesis in several international peer-reviewed authoritative scientific journals, Mr. Ali’s appeal to defend his doctoral thesis orally was denied. Mr. Ali’s appeal clearly presented evidence of a thesis examiner admitted bias, conflict of interest between thesis examiner and student’s supervisor, and the Dean of FGPS review of the student’s thesis even though the Dean of FGPS has no knowledge in the student’s study domain. Evidence of lack of procedural fairness and transparency in the evaluation of the student’s thesis, as well as violation of university regulations are claimed against the University and its staff in Mr. Ali’s appeal.
(Read the rest of Mr. Ali’s press release HERE).
The arbitration of Prof. Denis Rancourt’s wrongful dismissal grievance with the University of Ottawa continued over six hearing dates in May.
The May hearings saw Prof. Rancourt take the stand first as a witness for the professors’ union (APUO) and then to be cross-examined by the university’s lawyer, Lynn Harnden.
Hearing dates continue into June and are expected to wrap up by the 26th.