Department of Archaeology June 17, 1991Tenure Report: Dr D Rindos
Dr Rindos states that during 1990-1991 his formal teaching activities were largely directed toward the development of a new integrated First Year Course in Archaeology. I would like to offer comments on that course, based on my reading of all materials distributed to students, materials distributed to casual tutors teaching in that course, discussions with some of those tutors, and discussion with some of the students enrolled in it.
I should also point out that I, and other members of the academic staff of the Department of Archaeology, have a major concern in this course. Archaeology is not a subject students have generally had any exposure to before their enrolment here, so it is important that the first year course should offer an interesting and informative introduction to the subject. It is our view that it should lay an appropriate foundation for students who may wish to continue with it, and that it should also be of benefit to students who may choose to do no more than this course. It should present the broadest possible introduction to the subject, and offer a balanced view of the general range of the subject. In should, in short, provide a general educational background to the subject, as well as a professional foundation.
Dr Rindos was involved in several meetings with myself and other members of staff in 1990, when we felt the course was not going well. We had long and detailed discussions about the above principles, and about how the course should be structured and materials presented. On every occasion, Dr Rindos would initially describe the majority view as 'normative,' it would be pointed out that a normative view was appropriate to a first year course, and he would eventually agree that a balanced presentation was needed. This has never however been reflected in the course as he has run it.
Archaeology 120 in 1990 and in the first part of 1991 has been, in my view and that of other members of the department, a total failure in the goals described above. It is certainly not integrated in any sense of the term known to me. The worst problem however is that it is not archaeological in any normative sense, and not even in any particularly eccentric sense. The course has been an uneasy mixture of history and philosophy of science, taught from one very personal point of view, and human evolution, but in a very non-substantive sense. It may have been acceptable as a course in human biology (although I doubt it), but not as an archaeology course. While, for instance, Dr Rindos has actually managed to name a few actual fossils and mention their putative dating, they are not discussed in their archaeological context; no mention is made of what kind of site they come from, its stratigraphy, how they were dated, what they were associated with, etc., No actual description of stone artefacts has been given in any of the first year lectures. It is simply not true that "the entire field of archaeology" was covered, let alone in a "broader, more realistic [than what?] treatment"; the field of archeology has hardly been touched on at all this year.
The claim that 'tutorial readings were formalised and papers duplicated and placed on reserve for students' for the first time is ludicrous. This was always done prior to Dr Rindos's advent in 1990: I can only assume he means that it was done in 1991 for the first time by him. The assignment on statistics was ridiculously inappropriate for a first year archaeology course, as was the one on phyletics; the ones on stratigraphy and seriation had little clear relationship with what is actually done by archaeologists. The "totally new practical" on artefacts was, by all accounts, on a par with astral travel.
Student reviews I have seen for the last year's course comment nost [sic] favourably on the second half of the year, when Dr Rindos did very little teaching and some actual substantive archaeology was taught by Drs Lilley and O'Connor. The alternative Arts handbook contained similar observations. Students and casual tutors to whom I have spoken this year, about last year's course and 102 to date, have all commented that the course is confusing, badly run, obscure in content, and not what they had wished or hoped for. Attrition numbers in first year student enrolments in 1990 and 1991 further reflect this. Follow-on numbers from 1st year 1990 to 2nd year units in 1991 reflect this further, both in general, and in relation to Dr Rindos in particular. This year, four substantive 2nd year units are offered by myself (Australian Prehistory), Dr Lilley (European Prehistory), Dr O'Connor (African Prehistory), and Dr Rindos (Origins of Agriculture). The numbers of 2nd year enrolment are Australian Prehistory 12; European Prehistory 14; African Prehistory 14, Origins of Agriculture 1.
I must also comment on Dr Rindos's peculiar attitude towards work load. I understand he complained vociferously last year about his teaching load, combined as it was with duties as Acting head of Department. In first semester he had one first year lecture a week. He was responsible for a 2nd/3rd year unit (Method and Theory in Archaeology), described in the handbooks as comprising 3 one hour lectures plus one 1-2 hour tutorial per week. My understanding is that he left the students to run their own tutorial and "lectures" were reduced to one session per week at Steve's Hotel. In second semester last year, he gave about 4 first year lectures in all, and had no other responsibilities. All course organisation was left to the other lecturers and the casual tutors. This year, his teaching obligations in first semester have been restricted to the first year course. He has been giving two lectures a week, and all attempts to insist he do any more than that, namely conduct some of the practical sessions himself, have been met with strenuous resistance, to the extent that postgraduate students were doing this work without payment. (This is all documented in detail).
Dr Rindos highlights a "special project" carried out with an undergraduate in the Archaeology Department. I must point out that it was project for the Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, and Dr Rindos' main contribution was to provide the equipment. This equipment had been acquired by him on a special research grant from the University, and this is the only use to which it has ever been known to be put. I understand Dr Rindos and the student in question had a disagreement about Dr Rindos's input; the student was adamant that only his (the student's) name should be attached to any resultant publication. My information from colleagues interstate (I cannot vouch for its accuracy) is that the publication mentioned by Dr Rindos was NOT considered adequate for publication.
Dr Rindos's joint supervision of a single Honours student last year was not a happy one. The co-supervisor from the Anthropology Department (Dr Trigger) and the student were both unhappy with Dr Rindos's input. I understand he failed to attend some meetings, and turned up at other ridiculously late. He also failed to attend a seminar given by the student."
There have also been complaints about Dr Rindos's performance as a postgraduate supervisor. He took over several of my PhD students last year while I was on study leave. In one case the Student was close to completion, and gave him a final draft chapter to read. Not only did he not read it, he lost it. (I have a formal complaint about this in writing). In another case, he failed to make any constructive input to to a student's project, but did manage some extremely inappropriate personal comments which deterred her from seeking further discussion. He made similar inappropriate to another female student he was NOT supervising, possible in the belief that he was her supervisor. He has also made extravagent [sic] offers to students about such matters as scholarship extensions, suspensions, etc., which have led some of them to view him with great suspicion.
It may not be entirely appropriate for me to comment on students currently [sic] under his supervision [sic] and no longer in this department, but I will raise two matters.
In the case of Ms X---, Dr Rindos was her supervisor for all of 1990 while I was on study leave. Early in that year, she wrote me several letters complaining about his supervision. WHen she gave a departmental seminar late in 1990, it was apparent to me and everyone else that she had made no progress whatsoever in 1990.
The statement with respect to Ms T---- that "she had been prohbitied from using certain central sources of data in the analysis" requires clarification. These data are in fact detalis of Aboriginal men's ritual and ceremony to which unitiated persons, and particularly women, are forbidden access. It was pointed out to Ms T---- from a very early stage in her work that it would be extremely inappropriate for her to ever try and gain access to this material. I understand some of it is avaialable in theses and other works by members of the Anthropology Department, including Professor Tonkinson and Dr Statnton, but in restricted form. I believe Ms T---- approached both these scholars and asked for access to this information, but was told that it was professionally and ethically inappropriate.
Post Graduate Pro-Seminar
I understand that these take place in Dr Rindos's preferred venue, Steve's Hotel. He attended very few departmental seminars when he was a member of this department.
2. RESEARCH ACTIVITIES
As mentioned above, Dr Rindos acquired a considerable amount of sophisticated equipment from a University Special Research Grant. This equipment was intended to be used to carry out palaeobotanical [sic] studies and possibly also stone artefact residue analysis. It has only ever been used for an undergraduate project for another department (see above). I don't know what the structural developments and construction of certain equipment to which he refers might be, but clearly he has still not carried out any actual research with it yet.
While he was a member of this department, Dr Rindos showed no signs of developing, or even wanting to develop, any kind of substantial plan for research. He proposed no particular projects he might carry out, nor be involved in, and applied for no further funding from any source whatsoever.
I note here one reprint and one translation of earlier works, one book review, one paper based on teaching for an unrefereed journal and one joint paper for a specialised regional prehistory. I would expect rather more from a senior lecturer, such as at least one article in a refereed journal, published or in press.
Dr Rindos has shown no interest in attending any of the appropriate Australian conferences held since his appointment, such as Australian Archaeological Association conferences. I can make no comment on the workshop he attended in the US, expect to say I have seen no mention of it in the international journals I have read. Both his departmental seminars were joint ones, to which he made little evident substantial contribution.
3. DEPARTMENTAL/FACULTY/UNIVERSITY PARTICIPATION
It was unfortunate that Dr Rindos was called on to be Acting Head of Department so soon after his appointment here, and clearly I must take some of the blame. (There is a considerable documented history which can be consulted if desired). The documents he describes were generally developed by him with minimal reference to other members of the department (or me), and had, and have, little relevance to the actual needs and context of the Department of Archaeology. It is news to me that any "Guidelines for the Centre for Prehistory" are still in force. The proposed exchange program with the University of Washington has not impressed members of this department as offering any particular advantages one way or the other. Indeed, in one of the documents I have seen, Dr Rindos himself admits to being at a loss as to what they might be in educational terms.
Dr Rindos' Headship was extremely divisive and disruptive. There seems little point in pursuing this in detail; there is considerable documentation available and the very fact that Dr Rindos was removed to another department probably speaks for itself. There are various aspects of Dr Rindos' personal behavior which are inappropriate to say the least. These can be documented and substantiated if necessary. I have alluded above to unpleasant comments he has made to female postgraduate students (and perhaps I should make it clear that I am not insinuating any form of sexual harassment here), and he has also described inappropriate details of his personal life to gatherings which included undergraduate students also.
I was very puzzled by the figures proffered by Dr Rindos as departmental funding from University Equipment grants, so I looked up the details. The $35,000 was derived as follows.
I have tried to present my views in a reasonably objective fashion. As mentioned above, the fact that Dr Rindos is no longer a member of this department speaks for itself (one way or the other). Personal bias will no doubt be alleged. I must point out however that I had no personal reason as such to lead me to this position. I supported Dr Rindos's appointment in good faith. Such bias as I have arises only from his performance as a member of the staff of the department and the university.
It is my considered view that Dr Rindos has made no positive contribution whatsoever to either the Department of Archaeology nor the University of WA, and is unlikely ever to do so.
Sandra Bowdler (Professor)
Head, Department of Archaeology
The document carries folio-page numbers 153-164. This would seem to indicate that it was originally placed into Dr Rindos' personnel file. If this is true, then from internal evidence, it would have been placed into his file some time after the middle of the year. However, it appears to have been later improperly removed from his official personnel file because his file now contains other documents from the end of 1991 and 1992 which bear the same folio numbers.