Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. (Google Maps)

B.C. university breached academic freedom of critical professor: probe

Thomson Rivers University banned Dereck Pyne from campus in May 2018 and suspended him that July

An investigation into the suspension of a British Columbia business professor who criticized his university has concluded the administration’s actions breached his academic freedom.

The committee of investigation, established by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, released its report Tuesday on the case involving Derek Pyne at Thompson Rivers University.

The university in Kamloops banned Pyne from campus in May 2018 and suspended him that July after he wrote about academics at the school paying to publish their work in deceptive journals that don’t require peer reviews.

The committee writes in its investigative report that the right of academics to criticize their administration and their institution is a widely recognized feature of academic freedom.

However, it says Thompson Rivers failed to understand academic freedom beyond a “narrow application” to support faculty members’ freedom to pursue fruitful avenues of research and publishing.

Neither the university nor Pyne, who returned to the school in January, immediately responded to requests for comment.

The committee found that Thompson Rivers suffers from a “broad institutional weakness” when it comes to academic freedom.

“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 report concludes.

The committee makes several recommendations, including removing the constraints placed on Pyne’s speech as a condition of his continuing employment as a faculty member.

It says the school should meaningfully consult with faculty to complete its academic freedom policy and review its human-resources practices to ensure that academic freedom is properly understood and protected.

The report also says the university breached Pyne’s privacy on a number of occasions and recommends it review its practices to ensure confidentiality is respected.

Pyne published an article in April 2017 titled, “The Awards of Predatory Publications at a Small Business School.” He did not name any professors or the university on which he based his research in the peer-reviewed Journal of Scholarly Publishing.

The article said 16 of 27 professors with research responsibilities paid so-called predatory journals that don’t require research to be peer reviewed to publish their work up to the end of 2015 and that they landed promotions.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BREAKING: Police in pursuit of possible armed and dangerous suspect in Williams Lake area

Public asked to stay away from Highway 20 and Buckley Drive

Orange Shirt Society seeks to trademark ‘Every Child Matters’

Unscrupulous sales of Orange Shirt Society owned designs continue

Independent watchdog investigating Williams Lake RCMP

The IIO was called in by the RCMP after a man was pursued by police and injured in a motorbike crash

WildSafeBC hires new co-ordinator for Cariboo region

Mareike Moore said the main message is keeping wildlife wild, communities safe

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read