The West Australian, Perth

  • 14 January 1997

    UWA Chief gets nod on Rindos
    By Michael Day

    A University of WA senate committee has backed vice-chancellor Fay Gale in her handling of the Rindos affair and chastised some of her chief critics.

    The committee's report, presented to the senate yesterday, said Professor Gale had set in train processes that ensured professional judgments were made on the issues in UWA's biggest controversy.

    The Rindos affair centred on the 1993 denial of a permanent contract to senior archaeology lecturer David Rindos.

    Dr Rindos waged a campaign against UWA until last month, when he died, aged 49, of what was officially confirmed yesterday as natural causes.

    The senate committee, made up of external members who had not previously been involved in Rindos-related matters, said Professor Charles Oxnard and Professor Robert Parfitt -- who had later criticised the UWA administration for its handling of the affair -- had not re-directed allegations about activities in the UWA archaeology department to those responsible for managing them.

    The committee made the same critical comment about a review panel which examined the archaeology department in 1991 and which included two other major critics of the UWA administration, Associate Professor Neville Bruce and Professor Bernard Moulden, as well as Professor Isabel McBryde.

    The senate committee, appointed last February after MLC Mark Nevill attacked UWA administrators in a speech in Parliament, comprised Irwin Barrett- Lennard, WA Water Corporation managing director Jim Gill, St Hilda's principal June Jones and Federal Court Judge Robert Nicholson.

    Its report said Professor Gale had used all existing processes and introduced others to ensure she had made the tenure decision in a manner consistent with award provisions and university policy.

    The committee noted that the university's policies had since been "enhanced and augmented", and recommended further administrative changes.

    The report cast doubt on all allegations of conflict of interest made against archaeology professor Sandra Bowdler and made it clear -- contrary to repeated reports in the Sunday Times -- that no findings had been made in a report by Professor Doug Clyde and Associate Professor Stan Hotop on other allegations against Professor Bowdler.

    The report cited natural justice and an inquiry by the government agencies committee of the Legislative Council as reasons for not examining the merits of the Rindos decision or the processes involved in reaching it, two major planks of its original terms of reference.

    It said the UWA senate had agreed that, pending the conclusion of the Upper House inquiry, the committee should restrict itself to examination of university processes now in place.

    The parliamentary inquiry, which did not produce a report after more than 40 hours of meetings last year, was dissolved when Parliament was prorogued last month.