ARCHAEOLOGY ACTION GROUP
PO Box 621 Mandurah, WA 6210
April 5, 1997
We, the undersigned, are very concerned that the recent Senate Committee of Inquiry failed to address the Terms of Reference set by the Senate in February 1996. The reason given for amending the Terms of Reference, namely that there is an investigation by the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Government Agencies into the denial of tenure to Dr Rindos, does not preclude or restrict the Senate Inquiry from investigating the first Term of Reference; namely:
To examine the documentary evidence before the committee established in 1991 to review the Department of Archaeology together with the findings and recommendations of the committee, and the action taken in response to its recommendations.
The problems identified by the 1991 Review Committee have never been investigated, despite:
a) the Review Committee recommendations that the Vice- Chancellor "investigate, as a matter of priority, the management practices ... [and] in conjunction with the Equity Officer, investigate purportedly inequitable behaviour within the [former] Department" (Recommendations 1 and 3 of Review Committee; quoted in Senate Inquiry Report, p32);
b) two members of the Review Committee urging the Vice- Chancellor to "investigate the Archaeology situation rigorously" (memo to Vice-Chancellor from Professors Moulden and Bruce, 16/1/92; quoted in Senate Inquiry Report, p33);
c) students sending submissions directly to the Vice- Chancellor in January/February 1992, after their submissions to the Review Committee were destroyed;
d) the Clyde-Hotop Review declaring that allegations against the former Head of Department, Professor Bowdler, "should be taken seriously" and that the allegations concerned "serious misconduct" as well as "unsatisfactory performance".
Because the Vice-Chancellor did not investigate the allegations against Professor Bowdler and problems with the administration of the Department of Archaeology, it is difficult to understand how the Senate Committee of Inquiry could declare that "once the Vice-Chancellor assumed direct intervention, she set in train processes which ensured that professional judgements were made ..." (Senate Inquiry Report, p25).
On the contrary, it would appear that the Vice-Chancellor failed in her duty of care to students by, firstly, not investigating their allegations, and secondly, not re-directing students' complaints to the appropriate offices of the University, although she received many written submissions from students (Senate Inquiry Report, p33). Therefore, it is extraordinary that the Senate Inquiry Report absolved the Vice-Chancellor, but found the "first line [of] management" to blame for not handling the problems properly and for not re-directing students' complaints (Senate Inquiry Report, pp14 and 18).
In explanation of why she failed to act on allegations against Professor Bowdler, the Vice-Chancellor cited verbal legal advice to the effect that "even if allegations against Professor Bowdler could be substantiated it would be unlikely that disciplinary action could be initiated under the relevant industrial award" (Senate Inquiry Report, p12). This means that the Vice-Chancellor did not act on allegations of "serious misconduct" and "unsatisfactory performance", other than to caution Professor Bowdler. No action was taken to determine what injustices had occurred or to redress them. To correct management problems, the Department was dis-established and subsumed into the Anthropology Department. Those who suffered most from the Vice-Chancellor's actions were Dr Rindos and the postgraduate students who had alleged misconduct by Professor Bowdler. The reputation of U.W.A. also suffered because the interests of students and the freedom of academic enquiry were accorded less importance than the narrow interests of the administration.
The outcome for Dr Rindos involved being obliged to return to work under Professor Bowdler, and subsequently, being denied tenure. The reasons given by the Vice-Chancellor included his inability to work with Professor Bowdler, a reduction in the scope of the Archaeology programme and his purported lack of research output (letter to Dr Rindos from Vice-Chancellor, 10/6/93, quoted in Senate Inquiry Report, p39).
The illogicality of blaming Dr Rindos for not co-operating with Professor Bowdler is sinister, given the serious nature of allegations about her behaviour and management style. Apparently, Dr Rindos had to be part of the "team", irrespective of whether the "team" engaged in misconduct or unethical behaviour. The reduction in the Archaeology programme, which was the principal reason cited for denying tenure, was temporary. Two years after Dr Rindos was denied tenure, there are again three academics lecturing in Archaeology.
This strongly suggests that a temporary curtailment of the Archaeology programme was engineered in order to facilitate the removal of Dr Rindos.
On the other hand, Professor Bowdler remains in her position, despite numerous complaints which included alleged unethical sexual liaisons with students, mis-management of the Department and its finances, restricting intellectual freedom, failure to consult staff and students, bullying and intimidating students, showing favouritism in allocating teaching appointments and research grants, inequitable behaviour generally, failing to provide adequate supervision of research students, breaching occupational health and safety guidelines, and involvement in a conflict of interest when she was Director of the Centre for Prehistory consultancy and held a position on the W.A. Museum's Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee.
We would also like to draw your attention to several other inconsistencies and errors in the Senate Inquiry Report. These are summarised in the attachment and refer only to errors of fact or misrepresentations contained in the body of the report, and do not address inadequacies with the recommendations, or errors in the Appendices.
Thank you for considering the matters we have raised. We respectfully urge you to not accept the Senate Inquiry Report as it stands, but at the very least have it corrected and amended. Furthermore, we hope that you will urge the Senate to conduct a full and thorough investigation of the original Terms of Reference, in order to salvage the reputation of the University and to restore confidence in the discipline of archaeology in Western Australia.
A Yates and J Mattner spokespersons & the undersigned Members of the Archaeology Action Group.
ATTACHMENTNOTES ON SENATE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY REPORT
1. Whether or not this Committee will subsequently proceed to an examination of the merits, either of the tenure decision or of the processes involved in reaching that decision, will be a matter for later determination by Senate. p3.
There is no recommendation (or subsequent reference) in the Report regarding this point. There is no reference to further investigation of the first Term of Reference; that is, the 1991 review of the Department of Archaeology. Surely, the Senate would wish to resolve the issues which the Inquiry did not address?
2. The Committee also received one solicited and twelve unsolicited formal submissions from interested observers. p4.
No information is provided about these submissions. Who were they from? Did staff and students of the former Department of Archaeology have an opportunity to make submissions, while former students were unaware of the Inquiry?
3. Given that the University subsequently tightened its selection processes, it can be assumed that selection processes in place at the time Dr Rindos was appointed were less rigorous than now considered desirable to optimise high quality selections. p6.
The University received testimonials concerning the outstanding academic abilities of Dr Rindos from many world-renown archaeologists, including Lord Renfrew from the U.K. and the "father of modern archaeology", Professor Binford from the U.S.A. There would be very few, if any, academics at U.W.A. able to demonstrate such support and distinction. The implication that Dr Rindos was not a "high quality" academic is absurd in the light of these testimonials.
4. In May 1992 Dr Rindos was granted a six month extension of his contract in view of: (1) the scheduled further review of Archaeology. p7.
There was no further review, rather the Vice-Chancellor dis-established the Department, and was able to deny tenure to Dr Rindos because there was a reduction in the scope of the Archaeology programme (letter to Dr Rindos from Vice-Chancellor denying him tenure, 10/6/93; quoted in Senate Inquiry Report, p39).
5. the Vice-Chancellor ... extended Dr Rindos' appointment for a further six months in order to ensure "a full and proper review of all related issues". pp7-8.
There was not and never has never been a full investigation of the issues, while the "related issues" were deliberately excluded from consideration by the Tenure Review Committee (see Senate Inquiry Report, p38).
6. Such assistance was provided subsequently, however, with [Dr Rindos'] transfer to Geography and two six-month extensions of his contract. His teaching commitments were reduced ... p10.
It is doubtful whether being relocated into another Department without any funding, having the granting of tenure twice postponed and the cutting of one avenue of performance (teaching) would constitute "assistance" in the usual sense of the word.
7. ... Professor Bowdler was stood down as Head of Department while allegations about her management of the Department were further investigated. p12.
The allegations and students' complaints were not investigated. Instead, "Professors Clyde and Hotop were asked by the Vice-Chancellor what further action, if any, should be taken in relation to the Department of Archaeology" (Senate Inquiry Report, p12).
8. The Vice-Chancellor consulted an external legal industrial advocate ... p12.
Apparently, this important advice was not asked for in writing, and it remains unsubstantiated. The Vice-Chancellor has never asked for a second opinion.
9. Taking into account all information the Vice-Chancellor concluded that there had been problems in the management of the department ... p12.
The 1991 Review Committee advised the Vice-Chancellor that there were far more serious problems than just poor management; a conclusion given credence to by the Clyde-Hotop Report. Nonetheless, Dr Rindos was penalised for failing to co-operate with the former Head of Department.
10. (2) The Vice-Chancellor pursued a strategy with regard to Professor Bowdler based on award procedures and legal advice given orally. p12.
The Vice-Chancellor failed the students, the discipline and the University by not investigating the allegations against Professor Bowdler, using the excuse of unsubstantiated oral legal advice.
11. Submissions which contained allegations against Professor Bowdler were directed to the Department Review Committee (1991) and additional submissions were subsequently referred by the Vice-Chancellor to the Clyde-Hotop Review. p14.
The Vice-Chancellor failed to re-direct complaints to the appropriate bodies within the University, such as the Equity Officer, instead referring them to Professors Clyde and Hotop, who were constrained from investigating them by the Terms of Reference set by the Vice-Chancellor.
Written submissions to the 1991 Review Committee and to the Vice-Chancellor containing allegations against Professor Bowdler were not considered to be "formal complaints" (Senate Inquiry Report, pp14, 15 & 34). To maintain this doubtful distinction, a "formal complaint" is defined as one which is "lodged in writing and subject to the right of reply from the person [accused]" (Senate Inquiry Report, p15). The fact is that students' complaints were in writing and Professor Bowdler was told of the nature of the complaints and given an opportunity by both the Review Committee and the Vice-Chancellor to answer allegations (Senate Inquiry Report, pp36-37).
12. In December 1991 a review of the Department of Archaeology was commenced and completed in accordance with a previously agreed schedule. p17.
The departmental review was conducted ahead of schedule on account of the rift in the Department.
A previous review was conducted in 1987 (report was dated 1988) prior to the establishment of the Department of Archaeology from the Centre for Prehistory. Apparently, official copies of the report were destroyed, but copies still exist. Problems in the management of the nascent Department were identified by the review, including management of the finances. It appears that the recommendations of the 1987/1988 review were not implemented.
13. The Vice-Chancellor asked Professor[s] Clyde and Hotop to engage in further investigation of the allegations ... p18.
This is untrue. "Clyde and Hotop stated [in their report] that the Vice-Chancellor had 'confirmed that, in preparing our advice, we were to have regard only to the contents of the confidential written submissions and that our brief did not include consideration of any other material, including the report of the internal  Review Committee'" (Senate Inquiry Report, p35).
14. Yet the complaints were not re-directed [by Professors Oxnard and Parfitt] to those charged with the responsibility for managing them ... Similarly, the Review Committee did not re-direct the allegations made to them. p18.
The first statement is misleading and the second untrue. Professor Oxnard acted on the complaints. The Review Committee re-directed the allegations to the Vice-Chancellor, who must ultimately take responsibility for acting on the complaints. Despite receiving written submissions from students, as well as confidential briefings and unambiguous recommendations from the Review Committee, the Vice-Chancellor failed to investigate the allegations or re-direct the complaints to the appropriate bodies within the University.
15 The recommendations in the [Review Committee] report were implemented as far as practicable. P 18.
This is untrue. The three principal recommendations have not been implemented and there is no practical restriction on their implementation.
16. At the time Dr Rindos was in archaeology, there were difficulties in the relationships within the Department amongst a number of staff and students. p19.
There is ample evidence that these problems pre-dated the arrival of Dr Rindos at U.W.A. For example, a foundation member of the Department, Associate Professor Hallam, is on record to that effect.
17. A number of allegations concerned perceived deficiencies in the management of the department and in the postgraduate student supervision process. Allegations concerning postgraduate students included restrictions on intellectual freedom, favouritism in allocation of teaching appointments and research grants, intimidation, offensive behaviour and lax supervision of research students. Those to do with general management included inadequate consultation with staff and students, unresolved intra-departmental conflict, inequitable behaviour and breaches of occupational health and safety guidelines. p19.
The Senate Inquiry Report does not identify that these allegations almost exclusively were against Professor Bowdler, nor that Dr Rindos was not implicated.
18. Official copies of a previous review of the Centre of Prehistory conducted in April 1988 [conducted 1987, reported 1988] had also been destroyed. p20.
Copies of the report exist and are available from the Registrar, Mr M. Orr.
19. However, once the Vice-Chancellor assumed direct intervention, she set in train processes that ensured that professional judgements were made ... p25.
The Vice-Chancellor ignored the recommendations of the committee established to review the Department of Archaeology (advice supported in essence by the Clyde-Hotop review) to investigate allegations against Professor Bowdler.
The Vice-Chancellor apparently obtained oral legal advice and acting on this unsubstantiated legal advice, she chose to avoid disciplining Professor Bowdler or investigating alleged "serious misconduct". Consequently, students' grievances remain unresolved, while the discipline of archaeology and the reputation of U.W.A. suffers. Subsequently, the Vice-Chancellor decided to deny Dr Rindos tenure, in part because he was unable to co-operate with Professor Bowdler (see Senate Inquiry Report, p39) and because she had dis-established the Department of Archaeology. In other words, Dr Dave Rindos was left unemployed because of the inability, or unwillingness, of the Vice-Chancellor to deal effectively and appropriately with Professor Bowdler.