January 30, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 67  

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NEWS

Dalhousie and prof association in fight

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

An investigation into several alleged incidents of Dalhousie University interfering with academic freedom is now underway.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has formed an independent committee to investigate a breach of academic freedom involving Gabrielle Horne, a cardiologist with Dalhousie’s faculty of medicine, confirmed Vic Catano, CAUT president.

“Her research has been restricted in terms of access to patients,” he said, noting the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax has refused to allow Horne to return and continue her research.

The incident first occurred in October and since then, three more faculty members working at the Dalhousie-administered hospital have come forward with similar cases of interference with their research, Catano said.
Dalhousie spokesperson Charles Crosby said the university knows very little about the details in the case. “It’s been one of our frustrations — [the CAUT hasn’t] given us any details,” he said.

“We take academic freedom seriously. If there’s an infringement then bring it forward,” he added.

Dalhousie raised concerns over the lack of details disclosed by the CAUT committee, such as the absence of jurisdiction and how binding any decision could be, Crosby noted.

Collin Stuttard, past president of the Dalhousie Faculty Association, was quick to point out the issue is outside the DFA’s collective bargaining agreement, but clinical members of faculty, such as Horne, are eligible to be a part of CAUT. This gives the CAUT committee jurisdiction in the Dalhousie issue, Stuttard said.

Horne is conducting non-invasive research of heart functions and has been sanctioned by the hospital ethics committee to do so, Catano noted.

He made reference to a letter from a member of Dalhousie’s administration to the CAUT committee, released to the media earlier this week, which raised several of Dalhousie’s concerns, but he contended the university was told of the committee and no complaints were made to CAUT.

“Why would he send it to the whole world? He’s not serious about these questions — this is just trying to discredit the committee,” he said.

Crosby said the CAUT has not been entirely forthcoming through the affair. “They’ve gone to the media with circumstantial evidence,” he said. “We hope they can open up some dialogue.”

Catano said the problem with Dalhousie’s medical school is similar to problems occuring at other medical schools concerning academic freedom. “There are problems throughout the country with medical schools,” he explained.
Horne was out of the country and could not be reached for a comment.

 

 

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