Friday, October 18, 2019

More on the state of academia

A world-renowned expert in animal bone identification has lost her position at the University of Victoria (UVic), she believes for telling school kids politically incorrect facts about polar bears.

Zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford is routinely hired by biologists and archeologists in Canada and abroad to identify the remains of mammals, birds and fish. She has helped catalog museum collections, and assisted police with forensic analyses. But UVic students will no longer benefit from her expertise, and her ability to apply for research grants has come to a screeching halt. In May, the Anthropology Department withdrew her Adjunct Professor status, depriving her of a university affiliation.

Crockford describes her expulsion as “an academic hanging without a trial, conducted behind closed doors.” After being renewed unanimously in 2016 for a three-year term, her adjunct status was not renewed the next time around.

Crockford is the author of a popular blog,, as well as five books about these animals. Polar Bear Facts and Myths has been translated into four languages. She says that, contrary to the claims of environmental activists, polar bears are currently thriving and are at no risk of extinction from climate change.

Informing the public of these plain facts now appears to be unacceptable to UVic. After 15 years, Crockford was advised in May that an internal Appointment Reappointment Promotion and Tenure (ARPT) committee had “voted not to renew your Adjunct Status.” No reasons were provided. Having undergone hip surgery in the interim, Crockford is only now going public.

When contacted by the National Post recently, UVic spokesman Paul Marck refused to say how many people were on the ARPT committee, how many voted against Crockford, or how many were zoologists in a position to make an informed decision about her abilities.

The position of Adjunct Professor is unpaid. In exchange for mentoring students, sitting on thesis committees, and delivering occasional lectures, adjuncts gain official academic standing and full access to library research services. When asked what safeguards ensure that adjuncts can’t be excommunicated merely for expressing unpopular ideas, spokesman Marck declined to respond, citing provincial privacy legislation. In his words, the university doesn’t disclose “information about internal processes. We must respect the privacy rights of all members of our campus community.”

In this case, the university is not protecting Crockford’s right to privacy. Instead, it is using a privacy smokescreen to protect members of a committee who have decided to purge an adjunct professor without reason or explanation.

Read the rest here.

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