Report findings reveal TRU violated academic freedom of professor suspended in 2018 - InfoNews

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Report findings reveal TRU violated academic freedom of professor suspended in 2018

November 19, 2019 - 9:54 AM

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has determined the suspension of a Thompson Rivers University professor, who has been the centre of an academic violation case since 2018, concluded the administration’s actions breached academic freedom.

The investigation found that TRU in Kamloops “appears to suffer a broad institutional weakness when it comes to understanding academic freedom”, according to a release issued by the Canadian Association of University Teachers today, Nov. 19. 

Professor Derek Pyne was suspended from the university in July 2018 after he published an article that explored the use of so-called ‘predatory publishers’.

According to the release, the investigation looked into the actions taken by the administration to suspend Payne from the campus.

“Dr. Pyne found himself at the centre of controversy for his research into the use of deceptive journals by administrators and academics at TRU and for his public criticism of the University and his department, the School of Business and Economics,” the release says.

The committee notes the right of academics to criticize their administration and their institution is a widely recognized feature of academic freedom. However, the committee found that at TRU there was a failure to understand academic freedom beyond a “narrow application to support faculty members’ freedom to pursue what they expect to be fruitful avenues of research and publish their result.’’

“Our investigation finds that the TRU administration’s approach in managing workplace complaints against Dr. Pyne failed to properly consider his academic freedom as it applies to his criticisms of the School of Business and Economics, its administrators and its faculty,” the committee says in the release. 

The committee made a number of recommendations including removing the constraints placed on Dr. Pyne’s speech as a condition of his continuing employment as a faculty member.

For the full report, go here.


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