Leaked report stalls bid to end job-offer row

July 11, 2003

Negotiations have stalled in a dispute over the withdrawal of a job offer at a Canadian university after the academic in question leaked an independent report into the case.

David Noble, professor of history at York University in Toronto, who is a prominent critic of corporate universities, claimed he had no option but to leak the report into his thwarted appointment to Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver.

Two years ago, Simon Fraser's humanities department recommended Dr Noble for a prestigious endowed chair.

But his appointment was rescinded and Simon Fraser's search committee was instructed to reopen its quest for the new chair.

Dr Noble claimed that his academic freedom was violated when the university overturned the department's recommendation after an email from the university president was leaked. The email was later disclosed under freedom of information legislation.

The report into the case was commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. It was drafted in March and was due to be made public in May.

Frustrated by its late publication, Dr Noble distributed the 50-page report to the media. He said he needed to make the document public to comply with a statute of limitations relating to a civil lawsuit he had launched against Simon Fraser.

The report was posted on the internet, but by the end of June it had still not appeared in Caut's newsletter.

Caut officials were furious at the impact of unauthorised publication on negotiations with Simon Fraser to settle the Noble case and to improve the appointments process.

Caut president Victor Catano said: "We're not pleased that it's been leaked. The talks were fruitful and productive, and we had hoped to continue."

Dr Catano said the two parties were about to enter mediation but said the negotiations had not proceeded to their next step. Simon Fraser would not comment on the issue because of Dr Noble's impending litigation.

Dr Noble said: "I will not be party to the delay of this report."

Dr Catano said the report would probably be published by the autumn. He said: "People can make whatever allegations they want. We have mechanisms we have to deal with. It's been two years. Another couple of months won't make a difference in the outcome."

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