Fortunately, the UC Davis Academic Senate was brought into the case by Wilkes and a committee of the academic senate responded VERY strongly with a report (see my previous post with more detail). Meanwhile - news of the report spread and was covered in Inside Higher Ed. It was then that I heard about it and felt the need to blog about it. And news has spread a bit more (thank you PZ Myers and others). On Friday, the UC Davis Academic Senate met (and though I am not a member of the Senate, I went to the meeting). And the Senate passed three resolutions coming out strongly in support of Prof. Wilkes and critiquing the behavior of the Dean, Asst. Dean and Counsel from the Med. School. Just after the resolution was passed the faculty received an email from the Provost Ralph Hexter that was very strongly saying he supported academic freedom on campus.
So that is where we stand now. I am very pleased with the Provost's statement. At the same time I am still dismayed at the reported behavior of the Medical School administration. And I think this issue needs to still get some air until there are repercussions for the Medical School actions ...
Here are some related links and updates that I collected as the story has unfolded.
- Web site with ad for the UC Davis Men's Health Seminar that is part of this issue.
- News-in-brief: Committee to present report on alleged breach of academic freedom tomorrow (from UC Davis Aggie)
- Academic freedom committee at UC Davis blames administrators ... (from
Chronicle forInside Higher Ed (NOTE - TYPO CORRECTED 6-10)
- In the media: Week of June 3 | UC Health
- Academic freedom isn’t always honored in the breach (PZ Myers)
UPDATE 2: Some new links (6/8)
- academic science - HigherEducationLaw
- UC Davis administrators blamed in intimidation allegations ...
UPDATE 3: 6/8
UPDATE 4: 6/10
- Looks to Me as If U.C. Davis May Need Some Different Deans, as Well as a Different Chancellor... (Brad Delong)
- Prostate-Gate (Higher Education Law)
- Weekly Dose of Higher Education - June 6th, 2012 [Audio]
- Administrators discipline professor for criticizing NFL sponsored prostate screening festival (UO news)
UPDATE 5: 6/11
- UC removes "In the media" page which linked to the Inside Higher Ed. story.
- UC Davis Academic Senate passes three resolutions in relation to this case. See here for full text.
UPDATE 7: 6/14
- Professor's academic freedom was violated, UC Davis faculty ... (LA Times)
- Professor was harassed by his university after criticising routine prostate cancer screening, inquiry finds - British Medical Journal
- Intimidation Tactics? Prof demoted after criticizing university for PSA seminar
- Professor's academic freedom violated, UC Davis faculty leaders ... Education Views
UPDATE 7: 6/15
- Faculty, officials clash at UC Davis medical school (Sacramento Business Journal)
- More Catching Up: Academic Freedom Cases
- “The real meaning of academic freedom.”
UPDATE 8: 6/20
UPDATE 9: 6/25
UPDATE 10: 1/12/13
- The Sacramento Business Journal has a news story on this: UC panel concludes no retaliation against professor.
- UC Davis news service posted an article about this: Chancellor, provost reiterate commitment to academic freedom ...
- The "review team's findings of fact" were posted: The review team's findings of fact.
1) Compared to the thorough 14-page analysis from the faculty investigation, the 2-page administrative review presents virtually no new information, contradicts the testimony of the Executive Associate Dean who said he was in fact responding to complaints against Dr. Wilkes, and completely ignores the totality of the threats all occurring peculiarly at the same time, creating a strong sense of retaliating when viewed as a whole. The faculty saw through thin excuses, while this review merely parrots and accepts them with no scrutiny or common sense.
2) The administrative review claims a factual mistake in the timeline suggesting that the Executive Associate Dean wrote a key email before he was aware of Dr. Wilkes' activities. This is factually incorrect. There is uncertainty about the timing of various emails (UC Davis does not keep historical emails, so a request for those went unfilled), but our report is very clear that Dr. Wilkes first raised his allegations to the Dean on September 16, 2010, well before the dates discussed by the administrative review. Dr. Wilkes, other faculty, and the Dean were already well into the dispute when the Dean began retaliatory measures. Those measures continued over a period of time. The administrative review committee ignored this information.
3) The administrative review appears to inappropriately downplay the seriousness of lawyers threatening faculty and fails to account for the fact that the lawyer was ordered by the administrators to send the threat to Dr. Wilkes. Why are those administrators not held accountable for those orders? According to the logic in the administrative review, if a person writes that they are not trying to interfere with a person's academic freedom, then that grants free license to say and do anything, especially to violate faculty academic freedom.
4) The fact that almost all administrative and legal personnel involved in the case have had adjustments to their University status since the Senate acted speaks louder than this poorly conducted and written review about what is going on.
5) It is very disappointing that the administration will not apologize and move forward in a positive direction.
- The Fire: UC Davis Update: Panel Rejects Finding of Academic Freedom ...
- Professor who criticized prostate screening seminar did ... - BMJ.com
UPDATE 12: 2/25/13
Dear Academic Senate Members,
This message is being sent on behalf of Academic Senate Secretary, Abigail Thompson. Please see the following link (http://academicsenate.
ucdavis.edu/ra/RA-Meeting- Call-2013-02-28.pdf) to access the Representative Assembly Meeting Call forThursday’s (2-28-13) meeting. You can also access RA information, meeting calls, and meeting summaries on the RA website (http://academicsenate. ucdavis.edu/repassembly.cfm).
Last spring the Representative Assembly passed a series of resolutions related to academic freedom and the Provost sent a letter to the Senate in response. This report summarizes our analysis.
In June 2012 the Representative Assembly unanimously condemned the use of letters from legal
counsel to intimidate faculty: The provost has indicated that steps have been taken to prevent
this, but stated that the actions of the administration cannot legally be described.
In response to a thorough analysis by last year’s CAFR that found that the Medical School
administration had impinged on the academic freedom of Michael Wilkes, the Representative
Assembly unanimously requested in June 2012 that none of the actions threatened to punish
Wilkes be carried out. To date, none of the actions have been carried out although none have
been explicitly ruled out.
In addition, the Representative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution calling for additional
actions: an apology to Wilkes, training for medical school personnel on academic freedom and a
report to the Representative Assembly with six months on the training program. The
administration has elected not to do any of these things. The Provost has proposed a “town hall
meeting” on academic freedom.
The administration appointed a three person committee to examine the Wilkes case on their
behalf. The committee’s report was provided with the letter from the Provost. There was only
one new contention in the report; it called into question one piece of data in the CAFR report:
the timing of one email threatening actions to be taken against Wilkes. Although put forward as
a key issue, this is a secondary issue. Even assuming a revised timing of this email, the
preponderance of evidence still supports the conclusions of the study conducted by CAFR last
year and provided to the Representative Assembly, namely that the Medical School
administration had impinged on the academic freedom of Michael Wilkes.