Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. (Google Maps)

B.C. university breached academic freedom of critical professor: probe

Thomson Rivers University banned Dereck Pyne from campus in May 2018 and suspended him that July

An investigation into the suspension of a British Columbia business professor who criticized his university has concluded the administration’s actions breached his academic freedom.

The committee of investigation, established by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, released its report Tuesday on the case involving Derek Pyne at Thompson Rivers University.

The university in Kamloops banned Pyne from campus in May 2018 and suspended him that July after he wrote about academics at the school paying to publish their work in deceptive journals that don’t require peer reviews.

The committee writes in its investigative report that the right of academics to criticize their administration and their institution is a widely recognized feature of academic freedom.

However, it says Thompson Rivers failed to understand academic freedom beyond a “narrow application” to support faculty members’ freedom to pursue fruitful avenues of research and publishing.

Neither the university nor Pyne, who returned to the school in January, immediately responded to requests for comment.

The committee found that Thompson Rivers suffers from a “broad institutional weakness” when it comes to academic freedom.

“Our investigation finds that the TRU Administration’s approach in managing workplace complaints against Dr. Pyne failed to properly consider his academic freedom as it applies to his … criticisms of the School of Business and Economics, its administrators and its faculty,” the report concludes.

The committee makes several recommendations, including removing the constraints placed on Pyne’s speech as a condition of his continuing employment as a faculty member.

It says the school should meaningfully consult with faculty to complete its academic freedom policy and review its human-resources practices to ensure that academic freedom is properly understood and protected.

The report also says the university breached Pyne’s privacy on a number of occasions and recommends it review its practices to ensure confidentiality is respected.

Pyne published an article in April 2017 titled, “The Awards of Predatory Publications at a Small Business School.” He did not name any professors or the university on which he based his research in the peer-reviewed Journal of Scholarly Publishing.

The article said 16 of 27 professors with research responsibilities paid so-called predatory journals that don’t require research to be peer reviewed to publish their work up to the end of 2015 and that they landed promotions.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mental Health: Erasing stigma leads to new path for Victoria woman

Paula Roumeliotis struggled with bipolar disorder for 35 years before finding support

COVID-19: UVic Engineering to 3-D print 4,000 face-shields for frontline workers

Team working to ensure Island health care workers have personal protective equipment

Health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

West Shore RCMP investigates bank robbery in Langford

People asked to stay clear of incident near Jacklin Road and Kelly Road

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

Most Read