Professor dismissed from faculty at U of Ottawa

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Last Friday, administration at the University of Ottawa recommended to their Board of Governors for physics professor Denis Rancourt to be dismissed from his faculty position, following his suspension in early December.

“The grounds for the recommendation include Mr. Rancourt’s assigning of A+ grades to all students enrolled in his fourth year physics course and his master’s level course,” the University of Ottawa confirmed in a press release.

Rancourt was not surprised by the decision.

“Dismissal was one of the several possibilities I foresaw, because many precursor signs suggested that they wanted to punish and remove me at all costs because I am a dissident,” he said.

According to Jim Turk, executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers " the union representing Rancourt " CAUT did not support the decision.

“[The union found it] hard to believe that such a respected professor would be treated in this fashion over how he graded his students,” he said.

“Several issues have arisen between Rancourt and the university over the past few years and Rancourt has filed 15 or 16 grievances towards the university in that time relating to the university’s reactions to his teaching methods,” Turk added.

“I have a desire to educate rather than oppress students,” Rancourt said regarding the high grades in his classes.

“Some students at the university are disappointed with the decision, as academic freedom is very important on our campus, but it is certainly creating a debate,” Dean Haldenby, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said.

The university’s administration concluded Rancourt’s actions could reflect badly on the school.

“The credibility of the academic achievement of the students registered to obtain a degree and the perception among other universities that the integrity of the university’s academic results could not be trusted with consequent damage to the reputation of our students,” according to a university press release.

With a great deal of information to filter, the CAUT has established an independent commission to examine Rancourt’s case, where three senior academics from North America will attempt to examine the details and complete a report by the end of the year, Turk explained.

“I will continue to fight for justice on all effective fronts available,” Rancourt said.

His fate will be decided at a BOG meeting in early March.

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