Monday, April 06, 2009

On March 31, 2009 the University of Ottawa officially fired Physics professor Denis Rancourt. This follows years of rancour over a number of issues between him and the University Administration. The Wikipedia artcile on him cites a long series of disputes, and it is pretty plain that the latest incident, for which he is facing dismissal, is a mere pretext, an excuse for the Administration to rid themselves of a gadfly. The Ottawa Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) are appealing for solidarity with Rancourt, and their appeal, from the IWW website, follows below. Denis Rancourt also maintains the Activist Teacher website and the Denis Rancourt TV site.
IWW Defense Committee Rallies To Defense Of Dissident Professor Denis Rancourt:
The University of Ottawa in Canada is planning to fire Denis Rancourt, physics professor, IWW member, and renowned researcher, today, March 31, 2009 .

The university claims it is firing Denis because he announced that all of his students would get A+ grades on the first day of the physics class so that they could get on with learning, rather than compete and perform for grades. The university claims this educational approach damages its reputation and credibility as well as that of its students. In short, grades equal credibility.

The IWW General Defense Committee Local 6 (GDC Local 6) rejects this pretext as an exaggeration that does not justify the university’s repressive approach, which is a threat against academic freedom and education workers’ rights.

More information about Denis’ case is online at the Academic Freedom and Governance at the University of Ottawa weblog

We urge all GDC and IWW members to adapt the sample letter below and email it today to University of Ottawa President Allan Rock and please be sure to copy the chair of Denis’ defense committee Your email can help save Denis’ job so send it today and keep up the pressure.

I am writing to protest the University of Ottawa ’s planned dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt. The university’s claim that Dr. Rancourt’s assignment of high grades on the first day of one of his classes damages the university’s credibility is an exaggerated pretext for removing a passionate professor dedicated to high quality teaching and research as well as academic reform.

To fire Dr. Rancourt on these weak grounds is a signal that education workers’ rights and academic freedom at the University of Ottawa are under threat. We are gravely concerned that removing Dr. Rancourt will intimidate both faculty and students from speaking up, being creative and taking the initiative in the future.

I urge the university to accept Dr. Rancourt’s offer to resolve this conflict through mediation. I also demand that the University of Ottawa end its suspension of Dr. Rancourt and restore him to his position immediately with no penalty.
For the reinstatement of Dr. Rancourt,
Your signature

Here is an article from the Ottawa Metro News that gives a little more background to this situation.
Controversial uOttawa prof facing dismissal:

After closed-door(!!!-Molly) meetings between uOttawa officials, a controversial physics professor at the university could be facing dismissal by the end of the month.

Dismissal proceedings against Denis Rancourt began back in December after he awarded A+ grades to every student in one of his fourth-year physics course. That appeared to be the last straw in a long list of incidents going back to 2005 where Rancourt has clashed with the university administration.

Rancourt met with university officials in a last-chance bid to avoid dismissal before the issue goes to the board of governors on March 31.

According to Rancourt, the university offered to go to mediation, but only under "exceedingly strict" conditions and set the board of governors meeting as a deadline for a resolution in his case.

Rancourt said it makes it almost impossible for him to met their demands.

"It's a ridiculous agenda. You cannot mediate a difficult case like this in 10 days," he said after the meeting Tuesday.

"When you interpret what the university told me today, what it means is (they) are not really interested in mediating."

UOttawa's director of communications Andrée Dumulon said she would not discuss details of the offer between the university and Rancourt, but that it was up to him to make the next move.

"The ball is in Professor Rancourt's court. He brought forward a proposal to the university. There was an exchange of ideas," she said. "The university is open to subsequent meetings that could even include mediation."

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