More FAUW Burning Issue Updates

David Porreca, FAUW President

In this week’s blog post, I provide an update on some of the principal issues raised in last week’s post, with a particular emphasis on scheduling.


2013 Hagey Lecture Poster

First, a reminder to attend CAUT’s “Get Science Right” inaugural town hall meeting at the Waterloo Public Library on Tuesday 17 September, 15:00-17:00.  Our own Melanie Campbell (Physics) and David DeVidi (Philosophy) are among the contributors to the discussion panel.  The main theme of the event – the first among many that will happen across the country – is the Federal Government’s excessive and ideologically-driven involvement in how science is funded, conducted and published in Canada.  Any faculty member who applies for federal funding for her or his research is affected by the changes that have been imposed upon the Tri-Council agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC), so this event is a crucial one for the future of primary research in our country.  Come join the discussion.

Second, a reminder to attend this Thursday’s Hagey Lecture, where Professor Margaret MacMillan (History, Oxford) will deliver a lecture entitled “Choice or Accident? The Outbreak of World War One”.  This free event is held in the Humanities Theatre in Hagey Hall20:00 on 19 September.

Online Expense Claims Colloquium

Planning is afoot for the fact-finding colloquium on financial data security in non-Canadian cloud-based servers.  The intent of this event – to be co-sponsored by FAUW, the Secretariat and the Dean of Mathematics – is to inform the University’s decision in purchasing an online expense claims system to replace the now bygone policy on per diems.  The target dates for this event will be 4 or 5 December.

Changeover in Administration & more general thoughts

In addition to the list of administrative positions that UW is seeking to fill that were mentioned in last week’s blog post, the Director of the Office of Student Success is also an important position that remains empty.  FAUW is alert to the impact that new people in positions of authority can have, and we are making sure that faculty interests are protected by having proper representation on all of the relevant hiring committees.

In fact, from the reports I hear at various OCUFA and CAUT meetings, it becomes clear that having good people on hiring committees is one of the most effective means faculty members have at their disposal to ensure that university operations function as they should.  By this I mean that the function of the university is to promote scholarship broadly construed, i.e., the dynamic interplay between research and teaching, faculty and students.  Basic job competency notwithstanding, those candidates for upper-level positions who can stand by that vision of a university are generally less likely to make decisions that are harmful to the academe.

New Scheduling System

As a result of discussions over the past week, I am pleased to report that the Registrar’s Office is planning to follow FAUW’s suggestion and supply faculty members with two alternative schedules using real-time data: one as the schedule currently exists using the old methodology, and a second one using the new Infosilem scheduling software.  The gathering of faculty members’ preferences between these two options will be coordinated through departmental scheduling representatives and funneled upward to the Registrar’s Office from there.  FAUW plans to make sure that the rationale behind faculty members’ expressed preferences also be taken into account.

The above good news notwithstanding, FAUW still faces a problem of perception when dealing with the implementation of this scheduling system.  Indeed, in our efforts to make sure that the old scheduling system does not get replaced with one that is worse than the system we currently have, FAUW has been perceived as being an obstructionist force.  FAUW’s consistent message has been that we want the new system to be better than what we currently have for all stakeholders and interests (students, administrative staff, faculty members and room allocation), and that it should not be allowed to go ahead until such time as it is demonstrated to all stakeholders’ satisfaction that it is in fact better.

Time allocation is every faculty member’s most critical zero-sum game, so this new scheduling system has the potential to be very disruptive to our work environment if it is not done right.  Having a scheduling system that is known to be disadvantageous to faculty members is a very effective anti-recruitment and anti-retention tool for top professorial talent (as was the lack of adequate daycare facilities, an issue that is about to be resolved in no small part thanks to FAUW’s intervention).  If UW is to live up to its claimed reputation as a top-notch research institution, it would behoove it to make sure it has a scheduling system to match.

CAUT Gets Science Right, and Other FAUW News

David Porreca, FAUW President

Welcome back!  In this inaugural FAUW blog post for the 2013-14 academic year, I would like first to send out a keen welcome to all 70+ new faculty members who have joined UW over the last hiring cycle.  FAUW now represents ~1,150 faculty members.  I also plan to bring this blog’s readership up to date on the wide assortment of issues both new and ongoing from last year.

CAUT: “Get Science Right”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is holding its inaugural Town Hall meeting that is part of its “Get Science Right” campaign, 17 September 3-5pm at the Waterloo Public Library.  This cross-country series of gatherings are intended to alert the Canadian citizenry about the federal government’s attitudes and policies toward a number of imbricated issues: the importance of primary, curiosity-driven research in general; the funding formulae for the Tri-Agencies; the muzzling of government-funded Canadian scientists; and the active discouragement and closure of scientific research when its results prove politically inconvenient.  The CBC will be filming an episode of The Fifth Estate at this event, and all faculty members who do research are encouraged in the strongest possible terms to attend.

Upcoming Hagey Lecture

The 2013 Hagey Lecture will be presented by historian Margaret MacMillan on Thursday, 19 September at 8pm in the Humanities Theatre, Hagey Hall. Admission is free. The topic of the lecture will be “Choice or Accident: The Outbreak of World War One”. Margaret MacMillan is regarded as a leading historian of the British Empire at the turn of the 20th century. She is an officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Royal Society of Literature, and a professor of history at Oxford University.

Bright Starts Daycare

Good news: the construction of the Bright Starts amalgamated daycare building (between the train tracks and the Optometry building on Columbia) is still on schedule, to be ready for occupancy in mid-November. Barring unforeseen impediments, only delays in provincial inspection and licensing will keep this new facility from beginning its operations on schedule in January 2014.

Replacing Per Diems: Online Expense Claims?

UW is considering the purchase of an automated online expense claims system intended to replace the now-abandoned system of per diem expense claims. This process has raised a number of concerns regarding the security of faculty members’ private financial transactions if a non-Canadian cloud-based provider is selected to supply the software package. Consequently, in collaboration with the Secretariat and the Dean of Mathematics, FAUW is helping to organize a half-day colloquium on electronic security issues so as to inform the university’s decision when it comes to this critical software purchase. Stay tuned to this space for more information about this important event!

Changeover in Administration

UW is undergoing a massive changeover in the individuals occupying the upper levels of administration.  The following high-profile positions are currently awaiting permanent occupants:

  • University Registrar
  • Vice-President Academic and Provost
  • Associate Provost, Human Resources
  • Equity Officer (brand-new position created to address ongoing concerns about equity in hiring at UW, among other things)
  • Director of Institutional Analysis and Planning (Allan Starr has recently been hired into this position)


FAUW will be watching very carefully the progress of the testing being done on the proposed new scheduling system this fall.  FAUW is holding firm to its position that the new scheduling system will not be allowed to go live until it is shown to be better than the current system for all constituents (i.e., faculty members, students, administrative staff) and for room allocation.

With respect to faculty members, FAUW aims to have each colleague receive two schedules: one hypothetical created using the new system, and the real one arrived at using the current scheme and that is actually the live schedule for the term. FAUW is volunteering to coordinate the compilation of faculty members’ preferences for one schedule or the other.  Stay tuned!

No Faculty/Staff Change Room in PAC?

Over the summer, it has come to FAUW’s attention that the separate, dedicated change room for faculty and staff has been closed without a replacement planned until further notice.  Faculty members and staff are now meant to share change rooms and shower space with students.  This is an unacceptable situation for a number of very good reasons – the ease of use of camera phones and the potential for sexual harassment lawsuits come to mind.  An informal survey conducted by FAUW over the summer showed that the overwhelming majority of faculty members responding (38 of 40) were upset at the change in PAC facilities. This change also affects UW staff, and I am pleased to report that both FAUW and the Staff Association will be encouraging a return to the status quo ante (or some acceptable alternative) in the strongest possible terms.

Secure, Covered Bike Parking

Thanks to FAUW’s suggestion, four spots for covered, secure bike parking have been installed outside of Rod Coutts Hall with a view to assessing how much demand for these there actually is. While this is a commendable start, it is FAUW’s view that such secure facilities fall under the category of “build it, and they will come.” The cost-to-benefit ratio for this initiative should make its spread across campus both inevitable and a no-brainer. Further deployment of these facilities is a priority for FAUW, and we will continue to encourage the university administration to see its merits and virtues for the entire community – students, faculty and staff (e.g., greater fitness and work-life balance; improving security of UW community transportation infrastructure; stemming the flow of incessant reports of bicycle thefts to UW Police; encouraging the reduction in fossil fuel use).

Short-Term / Long-Term Disability Claims

The concerns that FAUW had raised in the summer of 2012 about the improper collection and transfer of information between Short-Term and Long-Term disability claims between UW and its insurance provider, Great-West Life, have largely been resolved to FAUW’s satisfaction.  Many thanks to all those who contributed to its eventual resolution, both from within FAUW and from UW’s staff in Human Resources.

Et Cetera

Other items on FAUW’s to-do list for this year:

  • The prioritization of the implementation of the Work-Life Balance Report’s recommendations, as well a
    s those contained in the Status of Women and Equity Committee’s Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave Report.
  • Defining the relationship between FUAC faculty members and their main-campus departmental counterparts.
  • Discussions surrounding the definition of ADDS status are ongoing, and the working group in charge of revisiting this set of regulations aims to report to Faculty Relations Committee and the Graduate Relations Committee this term.

Redefining the Scope of Academic Freedom

Principal Threats to Academic Freedom

David Porreca, FAUW President

This is the second entry in the series of posts on academic freedom stemming from the CAUT general meeting in Ottawa last month, this one focusing on attempts to redefine academic freedom in increasingly restrictive and less useful ways.  By way of example, I shall compare and contrast the definitions of academic freedom as expressed on the one hand by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), and on the other by our colleagues at St. Jerome’s University in their collective agreement.

In terms of context, university presidents across Canada adopted the AUCC statement on academic freedom unanimously.  The SJU-ASA wording has been held up at CAUT meetings as a model of brevity and comprehensiveness.  The fact that both are almost exactly contemporaneous adds to the relevance of the comparison.

To facilitate comparison, here is the language adopted by both groups presented in a table, side-by-side. I’ve numbered the paragraphs in the AUCC Statement for ease of reference:

AUCC Statement on Academic Freedom
(25 October 2011)
St. Jerome’s University Collective Agreement (effective: March 24 2011)
I. What is academic freedom?

1. Academic freedom is the freedom to teach and conduct research in an academic environment. Academic freedom is fundamental to the mandate of universities to pursue truth, educate students and disseminate knowledge and understanding.

2. In teaching, academic freedom is fundamental to the protection of the rights of the teacher to teach and of the student to learn. In research and scholarship, it is critical to advancing knowledge. Academic freedom includes the right to freely communicate knowledge and the results of research and scholarship.

3. Unlike the broader concept of freedom of speech, academic freedom must be based on institutional integrity, rigorous standards for enquiry and institutional autonomy, which allows universities to set their research and educational priorities.

II. Why is academic freedom important to Canada? 

1. Academic freedom does not exist for its own sake, but rather for important social purposes. Academic freedom is essential to the role of universities in a democratic society. Universities are committed to the pursuit of truth and its communication to others, including students and the broader community. To do this, faculty must be free to take intellectual risks and tackle controversial subjects in their teaching, research and scholarship.

2. For Canadians, it is important to know that views expressed by faculty are based on solid research, data and evidence, and that universities are autonomous and responsible institutions committed to the principles of integrity.

III. The responsibilities of academic freedom 

1. Evidence and truth are the guiding principles for universities and the community of scholars that make up their faculty and students. Thus, academic freedom must be based on reasoned discourse, rigorous extensive research and scholarship, and peer review.

2. Academic freedom is constrained by the professional standards of the relevant discipline and the responsibility of the institution to organize its academic mission. The insistence on professional standards speaks to the rigor of the enquiry and not to its outcome.

3. The constraint of institutional requirements recognizes simply that the academic mission, like other work, has to be organized according to institutional needs. This includes the institution’s responsibility to select and appoint faculty and staff, to admit and discipline students, to establish and control curriculum, to make organizational arrangements for the conduct of academic work, to certify completion of a program and to grant degrees.

IV. Roles and responsibilities

1. University leadership: It is a major responsibility of university governing bodies and senior officers to protect and promote academic freedom. This includes ensuring that funding and other partnerships do not interfere with autonomy in deciding what is studied and how. Canada’s university presidents must play a leadership role in communicating the values around academic freedom to internal and external stakeholders. The university must also defend academic freedom against interpretations that are excessive or too loose, and the claims that may spring from such definitions.

2. To ensure and protect academic freedom, universities must be autonomous, with their governing bodies committed to integrity and free to act in the institution’s best interests.

3. Universities must also ensure that the rights and freedoms of others are respected, and that academic freedom is exercised in a reasonable and responsible manner.

4. Faculty: Faculty must be committed to the highest ethical standards in their teaching and research. They must be free to examine data, question assumptions and be guided by evidence.

5. Faculty have an equal responsibility to submit their knowledge and claims to rigorous and public review by peers who are experts in the subject matter under consideration and to ground their arguments in the best available evidence.

6. Faculty members and university leaders have an obligation to ensure that students’ human rights are respected and that they are encouraged to pursue their education according to the principles of academic freedom.

7. Faculty also share with university leadership the responsibility of ensuring that pressures from funding and other types of partnerships do not unduly influence the intellectual work of the university.

Article 2 – Academic Freedom 

2.0 The Parties agree to uphold, protect, and promote academic freedom as essential to the University’s objective to serve the common good through searching for, and disseminating, knowledge, truth, and understanding, and through fostering independent thinking and expression in academic staff and students.

2.1 Members possess the individual right, regardless of prescribed doctrine, to academic freedom, which includes the right to engage in the following without institutional censorship or reprisal provided the Member complies with relevant legal considerations and any related policies required by law:

(a) examine, question, teach, and learn

(b) disseminate opinions on any questions related to the Member’s teaching, professional activities, and research both inside and outside the classroom

(c) choose and pursue research, creative, or professional activities without interference or reprisal, and freely publish and make public the results thereof

(d) choose and pursue teaching methods and content;

(e) create, exhibit, perform or adjudicate works of art

(f) select, acquire, disseminate, or critique documents or other materials

(g) criticize the Association, Employer or any other organizations, whether corporate, political, public, private, institutional,
as well as society at large

(h) engage in service to the institution and the community

(i) participate in professional and  representative academic bodies; and

(j) recommend library materials relevant to the pursuit of learning

2.2 Academic freedom does not require neutrality on the part of the Member. Academic freedom makes intellectual discourse, critique and commitment  possible.

2.3 Academic freedom does not confer legal immunity and carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a responsible manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for knowledge. In exercising their legal rights, Members shall not be hindered or impeded by either Party in any manner contrary to this Agreement.

2.4 In any exercise of freedom of expression, Members shall not purport to convey an official position of the Employer unless so authorized by the Employer, President or his/her designate.

Some unsettling observations result from this exercise in contrast:

  • At I.3, the AUCC appears to be suggesting that academic freedom is a lesser right than freedom of speech, whereas the opposite is true.  Would freedom of speech prevent one from being fired for criticizing one’s corporate employer?  Only academic freedom allows the professorate to have a say in how it and universities are governed.
  • The AUCC statement (III. 2) purports that academic freedom is “constrained by the professional standards of the academic discipline and the responsibility of the institution to organize its academic mission.”  Besides the ambiguity inherent in the statement “professional standards” (which ones? set by whom? isn’t obtaining tenure a high enough bar to qualify one as having “professional standards”?), I doubt any academic discipline could agree internally on a set of “professional standards” – disagreement is precisely the point of having academic debates. 
  • Anyacademic who criticizes their employer would be in breach of academic freedom according to this section (III. 2) of the AUCC statement.  Indeed, aside perhaps from certain branches of philosophy, there is no academic discipline that deals directly with issues of university governance.  So, if a mathematician sees fit to publish a critique of her/his employer – clearly something guaranteed by the SJU statement (2.1 (g)) – the AUCC would view this individual as being in breach of academic freedom since none of the “professional standards” in mathematics have anything to say about university governance. If the criticism came consistently from the same department, could administrators use the AUCC statement to justify the targeting of that department because it hinders “the responsibility of the institution to organize its academic mission”?
  • The previous point is made all the more ominous when read along with the next point (III. 3), which places in institutional hands the task of appointing faculty, determining curricula and so on.  This statement would be acceptable if it recognized that “the institution” and “the faculty” are one and the same, based on the principle of collegial governance.  It is not at all clear, however, that this is the understanding implied in the AUCC statement.  The separation of “the institution” from “the faculty” is a pernicious sub-text to the AUCC document, the barn door through which academic freedom can be wheeled out on a gurney.
  • At IV.2, the AUCC makes a strong case for institutional autonomy and administrators acting in the institution’s best interests. As public institutions, however, universities have a responsibility to the public good, and it is the latter that academic freedom ultimately aims to protect and foster.  Not much is said explicitly of the public good in the AUCC statement.
  • Despite its considerably greater length, the AUCC statement says nothing about protecting faculty members who criticize corporate entities, governments or their own institution.
  • At IV.3, we read: “ Universities must also ensure that … academic freedom is exercised in a reasonable and responsible manner.”   Who determines what is “reasonable and responsible”? I’ve rarely seen such unsettling Orwellian language in an official statement, and it takes very little imagination to figure how such a statement could be abused to the detriment of individual faculty members or even whole departments.  Universities are in the business of learning about the world and transmitting what is learned to subsequent generations at the highest possible levels of attainment.  Being a general rights defender is not part of the ‘central mission’ of a university, although an institution should be willing to defend the rights of its own constituents (as McMaster University has done in the recent cases brought against one if its librarians, Dale Askey).
  • At IV.7, the AUCC invites faculty members to join the university administration to prevent “undue” influence by funding or other partnerships on university-based intellectual activity.  What would qualify as “appropriate” or “due” influence, and how would those boundaries be defined?  The qualifier is unnecessary and unsettling.  Better would have been to emphasize the importance and value of curiosity-driven research.

In light of the above, I invite our President to renounce the AUCC statement, since it effectively erodes and fails to defend basic principles of academic freedom that faculty members need to do their jobs.

The Casualization of the Academic Workforce

Principal Threats to Academic Freedom

David Porreca, FAUW President

The Canadian Association of University Teachers – the umbrella organization representing 68,000 university faculty members and librarians nationwide – held its 74th Council April 25-28th, in Ottawa. I attended representing FAUW.  Among the many issues and concerns that were discussed from Thursday to Sunday, threats to academic freedom in Canada loom large.  The ten items below were identified as the principal threats to academic freedom currently prevalent in Canada.

  1. Casualization of the academic workforce
  2. Redefining the scope of academic freedom
  3. Undermining the concept of tenure through permissive contracts
  4. Discrimination and harassment of members of marginalized language groups
  5. Loss of custody and control of faculty members’ records
  6. New donor agreements and collaborations
  7. Contracting out of academic work
  8. Policies on “respectful workplace” / “civil discourse”
  9. Diminution of civil liberties
  10. Restriction of trade union rights

Over the next several months, but interspersed with items of immediate interest, a post about each of these threats will appear on this blog, beginning today.

Although other jurisdictions have advanced far more along the path of casualization than we have – over 70% of university and college teaching in the US is done by contract academic staff – UW finds itself particularly vulnerable to this trend. The research-intensive focus on our campus leads full-time faculty to want to reduce their teaching loads to leave more time for research.  In fact, in the ten years I have been a faculty member at UW, my own department has gone from a 3-3 to a 2-2 teaching load to accommodate more time for research. I know of many other departments where the regular teaching load is even less.

From my perspective, the idea of a university is encapsulated by the dynamic interplay between teaching and research, between faculty members and students at all levels.  Favouring one to the detriment of the other does a disservice to the idea and ideal of what activities a university should undertake and emphasize.  Students deprived of being taught by researching faculty are not getting what they are paying for.  Faculty members who limit their interaction with students whenever possible in favour of their research are at risk of missing out on the stimulating effect that transmitting their expertise viva voce can have: explaining complex concepts to a new audience often leads to clarification in one’s own mind, not to mention the useful feedback once can get from clever, critically-minded individuals from a younger generation.

The above observations lead me to ask: Who is doing all the teaching that used to get done when full-time faculty members taught more courses?  Part of the answer resides in regular curriculum revisions that, in many cases, aim to reduce the full-time staffing necessary to deliver academic programs.  These revisions, unless undertaken with the utmost care to avoid such an outcome, will tend to adversely affect the students’ experience compared to programs delivered, let’s say, a generation ago.

If teaching loads are being reduced and curricula remain viable and strong, inevitably the other part of the answer to the question posed above is ‘sessionals’, also known as ‘contract academic staff’ (or, at UW, as ‘adjuncts’) These people are practically by definition a casualized category of individuals who in many cases are parachuted in to cover gaps in what departments promise to teach in the course listings of the academic calendar.  This trend toward casualization is particularly threatening to academic freedom and the quality of teaching students receive because those sessionals whom increasingly we entrust with the teaching of our students do not have tenure.  Therefore, they are much, much more vulnerable than tenured faculty members to threats and pressures to modify what they teach for the sake of conforming to whatever ideological or personal flavour du jour that happens to prevail in their academic unit or institution.

One of the more pernicious knock-on effects of this casualization is a reduction in the professional consideration accorded to professors in their workplace and in society at large.  On a local level, attempts to exert more control over the working lives of academics (e.g., through changes in practice over scheduling, or increasingly onerous accountability measures ranging from travel expenses to teaching curricula) are being resisted by FAUW on behalf of its members whenever possible. On a provincial level, we can see the end result of the process of de-professionalization in the treatment accorded to Ontario’s primary and secondary school teachers by our province’s government.

Essentially, our students deserve better than to see their university education be casualized and therefore become more conformist and less questioning of corporate or political agendas.  Above all, we owe it to ourselves to resist casualization by emphasizing publicly and forcefully that we are purveyors of an essential public good: an educated citizenry that has witnessed the exercise of academic freedom, so that everyone’s civil liberties can be defended effectively when they come under threat, as they increasingly have been over the past 12+ years.

In related news, the contract academic staff at SJU have recently voted to join the SJU Academic Staff Association as a separate bargaining unit.  How long will it be before their UW counterparts feel compelled by circumstance to do the same?

The Limits of Academic Freedom

Peter van Beek, Chair, FAUW Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee
Should a psychologist who is a “scientific” racist be defended? What about a historian who is a holocaust denier?  A biologist who is an advocate of intelligent design?  A physicist who denies anthropogenic climate change?  An engineering professor who fiercely challenges the university administration when they propose to open a satellite campus in a country with a questionable human rights record? And finally, what about an ethnic studies professor who, days after the 9/11 attacks, characterizes those who died in the World Trade Center as “little Eichmanns”?  Should that faculty member’s right to speak and write be defended?
In other words, what are the limits to academic freedom?  That was the topic of a conference organized by the Harry Crowe Foundation that David Porreca, George Freeman, and I attended in Toronto recently on a cold January weekend. Below are some of the highlights that I took away from the conference. However, let me first put forward a disclaimer: Although I have been a faculty member for almost twenty-five years and I chair the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee, to my major discredit I came to the conference pretty much a blank slate on this topic. My learning curve was steep.

In what follows, the CAUT is the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the “national voice for academic staff”, and the AUCC is the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, a “unified voice” for university presidents. As may be surmised from their descriptions, the two associations sometimes have fundamentally different points of view on topics, academic freedom being one of those.
The CAUT has an elegant one-page policy statement on academic freedom. Our Memorandum of Agreement, which governs the conditions of employment for faculty members, has a statement on academic freedom that is quite closely based on the CAUT policy statement. To oversimplify, academic freedom has four main components: freedom in research and publication, freedom to teach and discuss, freedom of extramural expression (the freedom to critique society and the government), and freedom of intramural expression (the freedom to criticize the university and the university administration).
The AUCC recently adopted a less elegant policy statement on academic freedom that received much criticism at the conference. Quite shamefully, in my view, the AUCC statement omits both freedom of extramural and intramural expression.  Some of the most controversial conflicts over academic freedom in the past have revolved around extramural and intramural expression. Bertrand Russell was dismissed in 1916 by Trinity College, Cambridge, for his public criticism of the government. Harry Crowe was a professor of History at United College (now the University of Winnipeg) who was dismissed from his academic post in 1958 because of his criticism of organized religion and the university administration. And lest one think that these conflicts are of the past, Ignacio Chapela was denied tenure by the University of California at Berkeley in 2003 (ultimately granted in 2005), perhaps due to his intense criticism of adeal between Berkeley and Novartis, a Swiss biotech firm. The university collected a total of eighteen letters from external evaluators! My understanding is that collection was continued until a negative letter was finally received.
The AUCC statement also emphasizes institutional autonomy and institutional academic freedom, as opposed to academic freedom being a right of an individual faculty member.  It also emphasizes the role of professional norms in academic freedom (i.e., academic freedom more narrowly defined as belonging in one’s area of expertise and where the discipline sets the standard of inquiry). While professional norms might be a way of shutting up those anthropogenic climate change deniers that I find so annoying, professional norms can also be used to snuff out dissent. Academia is replete with orthodoxy and fundamentalism, and those who own the podium are often reluctant to share the power or to allow critical voices. Several panelists at the conference referred to an excellent speech by Harry Arthurs on why it does not make sense only to allow professors to speak on their “areas of expertise”.  Interestingly, not all university presidents support the AUCC policy.  David Naylor, the President of the University of Toronto, released a public statement distancing himself from the AUCC policy and (although correlation is not causation) subsequently resigned from the AUCC Executive. Patrick Deane, President of McMaster University, also clearly distanced himself (me judice) from the policy during his presentation at a panel during the conference.
Much more could be said, as there were panels on academic freedom (AF) and professional norms, AF and institutional autonomy, AF and religious belief, AF and equity, AF and the law, and AF and the growth of university-industry collaborations. But I am wary of going on too long, so let me leave further discussion as a possibility for the future.