-------- | | A MEMORANDUM | seal | | | FROM THE VICE-CHANCELLOR |--------|Dear Colleagues,
I am aware of the concern amongst a number of staff about the possible implications of the tenure review process and its outcome in regard to Dr David Rindos. It is a concern which has been aggravated by some speculative reporting in the Press, and by a relative absence of official comment from the University.
This silence has been unavoidable for two important reasons. Firstly, I did not wish any official statement to be made which could prejudice the outcome of those proceedings which had to be followed. Secondly, the claims of the several parties who have become involved in the dispute, have inevitably touched on some very personal and sensitive issues which are capable of misrepresentation and are therefore potentially damaging for individuals. This kind of material [WHAT KIND of material??] is not appropriate for public reference, and, as I shall indicate later, is not relevant to the central issue of academic performance and promise of performance by a member of staff seeking a tenured appointment [are you saying such things occurred?].
Now that the Senate as the Governing Body of the University has received my report on the tenure review process, [hmmm..."process"! which was followed in the case of Dr Rindos, and has received but not acceded to a petition from him that he be offered a new appointment on a tenured basis, it is appropriate to make a statement to seek to allay concern arising from perceptions about how this matter has been handled.
The view has been wrongly advanced in the media that Dr Rindos has been sacked by the University. Dr Rindos was appointed in 1989 to a tenurable position. As with all such appointments, the granting of tenure was subject to a review of performance during the probationary period [ALL reviews were positive!]. In a sense, therefore, Dr Rindos was given a three year contract with an undertaking that tenure would be granted if the review process established a sound case for so doing. In practice, he was given two six month periods of extension to his three year probationary appointment, while the review process was continued to provide him with further opportunities to establish his case for a tenured appointment [in fact, letters from the VC to me say that the first extension was done for the benefit of Dr Partis and the second was done for the benefit of the VC. NOTHING was said about ME or my performance!].
The recommendation of the tenure review committee, which I accepted, was that tenure not be granted [that is not quite right -- the committee said my academic productivity had been insufficient, but they also stressed they did not consider mitigating circumstances, and therefore did NOT make ANY final recommenation!], and so, in accordance with the University's established procedures, Dr Rindos was advised that his employment would lapse on the completion of his four years' probation [I was assured at hiring that the tenure review was done at that point in time, and that NOBODY had ever been denied tenure; not to mention the fact that I had been assured that the money for the position was assured -- they they did NOT allow Anatomy to have the funds for my position when they wanted to take me on!]. This is not a sacking, as is normally understood in other areas of employment. [so, how come I am going onto the dole?]
The review process and the recommendation resulting from it have been quite wrongly [hahahaha] associated with sexual politics [you mean the contrived sexual harassment proceedings brought against me by three women in the Department? or the other forms of homophobia -- my FAVOURITE line was the one from Partis when he said "Grow up and be a REAL man!"] and with personal [like the false and harmful statements about me which were hidden in the University file so I couldn't see them?] and even academic prejudices [oh, stuff like the claims that since I'm a Darwinist, I must be a racist?]. The University is committed to the principle of free enquiry through scholarship and to the freedom of its members to hold and express views which are consistent with their own beliefs [yea, sure!]. Its primary concern must be with the quality of its students, of its courses, its faculties and its staff, which together bring about high quality teaching and research. The management and administrative procedures which it has in place to regulate activities such as appointments and promotions are designed to ensure quality outcomes [pre-frontal lobotomy was designed to improve the mental health of schizophrenics] . Before giving anybody tenure the University must also ensure that in return for the substantial financial commitment in the appointment, it is securing a person whose teaching and research are at a level which is consistent with its concept of quality [hence, she would seem to be saying, Rindos is not that kind of person!].
Inevitably such a judgement cannot be arrived at by a quantitative process, as there can be no absolute definition about what constitutes quality -- in itself a relative concept. [great sentence, eh?? WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES IT MEAN???]
This is why the University's tenure review process is subject to a number of checks and balances, to ensure that the assessment of a candidate for tenure is not the responsibility of one person (although the final decision has to be mine), but is the result of a number of inputs, including reports from independent, international experts [WHO in the world does this refer to? BOTH of THEIR referees were from Australia! And the dozens of people who wrote her from overseas were PROTESTING the recommendation to deny tenure! SHEESH! Speaking of rewriting history!!] in fields of study relevant to that of the applicant [yea -- and NOT ONE PERSON involved in my tenure review process was from my field, or even a vaguley related one!].
In the case of Dr Rindos the recommendation, following a long review process, which included independent international input [again, who in the world does this refer to?], was that, notwithstanding any mitigating circumstances that existed [but the Wood Committee said the DID *NOT* TAKE THIS ISSUE INTO ACCOUNT!], his teaching [the Wood Committee cleared me on teaching, despite the mysterious disappearance of many of my teaching evaluations from Archaeology Departmental files!] and research [they spoke of PUBLICATION, not RESEARCH] did not measure up to the demanding standards set by an institution which is seeking to maintain its reputation, and its position as one of the top universities in Australia. [quote from Wood Committee: "members . . . *believed* that all staff converted . . . in the last three years have had a higher level of performance . . .. This belief could be confirmed or *refuted* through a review of the relevant personnel files." In my reply, I supplied quantitative statistics indicating my productivity was between 7 to 10 times greater than the norm for Australian academics in my field.]
It has been argued, in particular in a petition from thirty staff members and postgraduates which Senate received at its meeting of 28 June 1993, that it is unreasonable to require a staff member to satisfy performance criteria without specifying in detail what those criteria are. While I am sympathetic to this argument in principle, we have procedures in place to ensure that sufficient guidance on the standards expected for conversion to tenure, is given through their statement of duties, and through feed-back from the continuing review process which is an integral part of probation [BUT ALL MY FEED BACK WAS POSITIVE!]. Again, it has to be recognised that prescribed calibrations of performance cannot be set across the board, as discipline areas vary so significantly in their norms [Fine. So how come your decision goes against the norms expressed by the world experts in my field?]
It should be noted here that all matters concerning Dr Rindos and his tenure have been dealt with according to procedures defined by the University's regulations covering tenure and dismissal, which were approved by the University's Senate in 1988 [then why did my Union formally complain on several occasions that such rules were NOT being followed?]. These have the force of law within the University [hence, if it can be demonstrated that they were NOT followed, was my dismissal improper and illegal?] and protect the working conditions of staff on probationary appointments [I would like to hear how the following served to "protect my working conditions": (1) Transfer to a Department from which I had already been removed for protection from ongoing harassment; (2) Placement totally outside of ANY Department, where I had NONE of the normal services provided staff; (3) Total administrative separation from my students; (4) Being told I was "unacceptable" to another department without being given any reasons for this judgement; (5) Cancellation, without explanation or forwarning, of my classes]. At all stages of the review proceedings, Dr Rindos was represented by FAUSA, the Australian Academic Staff Union [if this is true, then why was the Union prohibited from speaking to the Senate on my behalf, and why was it not allowed to present relevant data regarding my sacking? Furthermore, why were the Union's claims regarding specific procedural problems with my extensions of the review period and my dismissal not even considered by the University? And why were they excluded from the confidential meetings of the Tenure Review Committee?]
The secondary issues in this case, such as personal relationships between staff and students, which have diverted the focus of attention from the quality consideration, are of course matters of serious concern. These are matters on which absolute confidentiality has to be maintained. They have been and will continue to be resolved through established University procedures. They were not, however, taken into account in determining that tenure should not be granted to Dr Rindos. [Does she REALLY believe that there was SUBSTANCE to the phoney sexual harassment charges? Well, on the ONE occasion I met with her, she turned white when I said that I could NOT go back to the US as she suggested I do because the US would not recognise my gay defacto for migration purposes.... this is getting really BIZARRE]
The task faced by the tenure review committee which looked at his performance over a period of four years [huh???? They met in January 1993 and considered events occurring over THREE years!] was whether between 1989 and 1993 [I arrived in June 1989 and wrote my final report in June-August 1992] Dr Rindos had performed in a way which justified the granting of tenure at the Senior Lecturer level at the University of Western Australia.
The petition which Dr Rindos presented to the University Senate was accompanied by reports from around the world in support of his qualities as a teacher and as an original research worker. Much emphasis has been given to these documents in the process of arguing his case [gee-willikers! I wonder why?], so it is important to put them into perspective [yea... this is gonna be great!].
Testimonials as to the quality of work done by Dr Rindos in other academic environments [hmm... sounds like she let a bit of the cat out of the bag with that phrase] in the 1980's, of which many of the writers appear to have had very limited first hand knowledge [right! like the leading scholars in my field, and the Heads of Department and colleagues at ALL other universities where I have been employed!], seemed to have only marginal relevance to the current issue the University was trying to resolve [well, there's the rest of the cat!]. Added to this, Dr Rindos has become recently a very public figure [thanks to YOU, darling!] and understandably has excited the support of many well intentioned people who have not understood the case in terms of the academic consideration on which the University has continuously had to focus [sounds like she used to write press releases for the South African Government saying how well apartheid was working!].
The University has never disputed that Dr Rindos has done some original research [gee, thanks!], or that he has attracted support from some of his students [so which students are excluded?]. The determination of the tenure review committee however was based on an assessment [a subjective assessment which has never been "confirmed or refuted through a review of the relevant personnel files" as they suggested COULD be done!] of the relative levels of performance and promise of performance [I guess my papers in progress or under review, don't count; indeed the Committee CLEARLY stated it would exclude ANY work whcih had not ALREADY been published! Sheesh!] which are expected in 1993 at this University to earn protected employment through tenure. [Oh well, if you are denied tenure at UWA, I guess you could always settle for a tenured job at Yale or Cambridge].
The Rindos case has cause much anguish to many people [what in the world does THIS mean?]. The decision not to grant tenure was not taken lightly, or without careful consideration of its implication, both for the individual [Rindos?] and for others involved in the case [huh?? WHO ELSE is involved in my tenuring??]. My primary concern however, had to be for the general good of the University community [having Rindos around is clearly NOT for the general good!], and for the preservation of the very high standards of teaching and research for which we are justly recognised. [Aw, come on now, gimme a break!] Having weighed up the relevant material with which I was presented [but clearly never read -- so she must have weighed them in kilogrammes], I reached the conclusion that it was not possible [not "POSSIBLE"??] to grant tenure to Dr Rindos [he might have deserved it, but it still wasn't possible for her to do it -- is that what she is saying??].
30 June 1993
I simply cannot believe she (or anybody else for that matter!) could be SO stupid as to actually BELIEVE the nonsense she is selling here. What in the world has happened to REAL academic standards??? Hell, I would flunk ANY student who treated the data half this bad!!