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Haifa Program: More Details

June 17, 2011

On March 7, 2011, I brought a motion to the University of Ottawa Senate to halt a new Exchange Master’s in Laws program with the University of Haifa, in Israel.

Previous posts from A Student’s-Eye View about the Haifa Program can be found here.

As I stated in my March 7 presentation to the Senate, the Haifa program appears to have been initiated for political reasons and not for academic reasons consistent with the University’s academic mission.  As reported by the Canadian Jewish News in 2008, the University of Ottawa President travelled to Israel with other Canadian university presidents, and the Haifa program resulted.

In response to my statement about the political motivation of the program, President Allan Rock told the Senate at its March 7, 2011 meeting that he “has never been to Haifa.”  Mr. Rock refused to make any further clarifications about the presidential trip to Israel, but details on the finances of the 2008 trip to Israel obtained through an Access to Information Request (available here) indicate that it was indeed former President Gilles Patry who made the trip.

All other requested information (request here, index here) regarding the scholarship for the Haifa program provided by the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation has been blocked by the University FIPPA (Access to Information) Office on the grounds that information about a scholarship donated to a specific foreign exchange program of a publicly funded University could “prejudice the economic interests of the institution” (S.18, FIPPA)

Included in the FIPPA Office’s list of excluded documents are the Terms of Reference of the scholarship.  The Terms of Reference, which are available here, courtesy of the University Development Office, oblige the University to inform the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation of the “profile(s) of the recipients” every year before the next year’s scholarship will be funded, to “recommend that each recipient acknowledge the scholarship in a letter to the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation”, and to “adhere as closely as possible to the spirit of the fund and to the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation’s [unstated] original intent” in possible future scenarios.

This scholarship is uniquely tied to the academic program with Haifa, yet the Senate did not consider its Terms of Reference or origin in the program’s approval process.

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