Academic Freedom Violated at Mount Allison

(Sackville, New Brunswick) — The Committee of Inquiry into the complaint of Professor Michael Thorpe (and the Mount Allison Faculty Association) has now published its report.

Professor Thorpe retired from the university after long and distinguished service. He was refused by the then Vice-President Academic an appointment to teach an extension course for which he was highly qualified and for which he had been recommended by his department. He was later refused by the University’s Board of Regents, on the advice of the Vice-President, the honorific title of Professor Emeritus for which he had unanimously been recommended by a Committee chaired by the same Vice-President and subsequently approved by the Senate (the University’s highest academic body).

Both the refusal of an extension appointment and the refusal of Emeritus status were unprecedented.

The Committee was appointed by the Academic Freedom and Tenure committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

The Committee’s investigation was thorough and their report gives an extensive history of Professor Thorpe’s relationship with the University administration and the events that resulted in his complaint supported by the Faculty Association.

The report advises that “..all steps be taken to ensure that Professor Thorpe be awarded Professor Emeritus status and that he receives fair consideration in any subsequent applications he makes for a teaching position at Mount Allison University.”

Many of those familiar with the history of Professor Thorpe’s relations with the administration of the time believed that the university’s actions were retribution for Professor Thorpe’s outspoken criticism of the Board and administration, in the press and elsewhere, and his active participation and support for three strikes ( two by the faculty union and one by the Staff association).

The committee, in its final remarks agrees. They say, “There is little doubt in our minds that the central issue in the Thorpe case is one of academic freedom. Academic freedom, accepted in all secular Canadian universities as essential to the creative life of the university includes, but is not limited to, the right of academics to criticize the running of the institution.”

The Faculty Association regrets the Board of Regents’ failure to resolve this issue and compensate Professor Thorpe for lost employment and damage to his reputation, and it believes that the Regents have done a disservice to the university.

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CONTACT PERSON: Dr. Rick Hudson,

Vice-President, Mount Allison Faculty Association

Ph: 506-364-2331

MAFA Office: 506-364-2289

PO Box 6314 Sackville NB E4L 1G6 tel:(506) 364-2289 fax: (506) 364-2288, mafa@mta.ca