Complaint rejected

May 12, 2000

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phil.baty@thes.co.uk 'I'll tell you what it doesn't say. It doesn't say that I should be reinstated to teaching. It doesn't say anyone's bullied me. And it doesn't say the moon isn't made out of cheese' The London Institute has rejected a formal complaint by senior academic Michael Chanan that he has been victimised for alleging mismanagement and dumbing down at the London College of Printing's media school.

Mr Chanan, who was subjected to two abortive disciplinary hearings, removed as director of an MA course and "stood down" from undergraduate teaching duties following his complaints, is to appeal to the rector against the ruling.

Points Mr Chanan is expected to raise in his appeal include:

Many of Mr Chanan's complaints about the management of the college's film and video BA course have been vindicated, after investigation. The college has accepted that changes were made to the content and direction of the course in breach of the college's quality control rules. Changes were gradually made to the curriculum without reference to the formal procedures for making such changes, leaving the course as it stood in 1998-99 markedly different to the course that was formally validated by the college in 1995. Film and video course director Peter Wyeth made further major changes for 1999-2000 - introducing a lecture series on Hitchcock's films, which he taught himself - which Mr Chanan said was insufficiently demanding and had not been introduced with proper consultation. It has now emerged that Mr Wyeth made the major course changes, detailed in the formal course handbook, using procedures for approving "minor modifications" and without the required full consultation with the school's board of studies or the course committees

There were flaws in the process that led to Mr Wyeth's appointment as course director. The appointment panel for the director's position, which did not include the rector or any equivalent senior figure, and did not include an external specialist adviser, never formally discussed or ratified Mr Wyeth's appointment. It had originally approved the appointment of two internal candidates for a job share. When the job share collapsed, Mr Wyeth was appointed without the appointment panel formally reconvening

Mr Chanan's "dumbing down" claims were backed by students, who have set up an action group to complain about the course. The group, which is demanding Mr Chanan's reinstatement, said the film and video course had "taken a decisive lurch towards classical mainstream Hollywood" and was blighted by a "severe lack of cultural diversity"

Lecturers' union Natfhe passed a motion earlier this year expressing its "deep concern" that Mr Chanan had been removed from teaching against his will

Media school dean Sally Feldman, who fell out with Mr Chanan soon after she was appointed in 1998, agreed to drop disciplinary action against him after the intervention of Mr Chanan's trade union, Natfhe

Mr Chanan was also subjected to invalid disciplinary action from Mr Wyeth, who was forced to withdraw an oral warning issued to Mr Chanan when it emerged that there had been serious procedural flaws in the process and that Mr Wyeth had been unaware of correct procedures, having received no training.

Mr Wyeth levelled ten charges at Mr Chanan, reduced in a disciplinary meeting to just two, and issued a formal warning after what Natfhe described as a kangaroo court.

Mr Chanan and his representatives are unable to talk to the press about the report into his grievances, but in a letter to his dozens of supporters in the academic community, obtained by The THES, Mr Chanan said: "I'm not supposed to say that among things it says I'm not supposed to tell anyone is what it says... So I'll tell you what it doesn't say. It doesn't say that I should be reinstated to my teaching. It doesn't say anyone's bullied me. And it doesn't say the moon isn't made out of cheese."

A spokesman for the London Institute said it would not comment on individual cases.

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