Once again the courts are being asked to intervene in university affairs. Gábor Lukács, a faculty member in the University of Manitoba Department of Mathematics, is upset with the way the Dean of Graduate Studies handled the matter of a recent PhD candidate. It seems the candidate twice failed his comprehensive examinations and only then declared a disability based on anxiety disorder. The dean ultimately allowed the candidate to proceed without having passed his comps; and, moreover, seems to have forgiven a failure by the candidate to rack up enough graduate school credits to meet the faculty’s requirements.
According to the story in McLeans OnCampus, Lukács’s application to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench:
…calls for [Dean] Doering’s decision to be quashed and for an affirmation that the dean had no authority to resolve the issue without consulting an appeal committee of academics. Lukacs alleges that Doering violated Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations and the University of Manitoba Act.
The matter became more tangled when Lukács was suspended without pay for three months as a penalty for making public the name of the graduate student in question in his court application, and, too, for insubordination. So far as I can tell from the McLean’s piece and the story in yesterday’s National Post, Lukács has not taken legal steps to challenge his suspension.
This “big mess on campus” can be seen as a clash between various values, of course, partly caused by the change in the nature of the university from a communal realm unto itself to something closer to just another big organization funded by the government. It’s a trifle paradoxical that Lukács, defender of traditional values of excellence, integrity, and self-government against the incursion of (superior?) individual rights to privacy and accommodation, should turn to the law, purveyor of those individual rights. But all’s fair in war and university politics, I suppose. And Lukács has been litigious in other areas as well.