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This article was published 6/6/2011 (3792 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mathematics professor Gábor Lukács harassed a controversial PhD math student to the point that the University of Manitoba was vulnerable to legal action, U of M president David Barnard told a labour hearing Monday.
Barnard said Lukács was insubordinate and had repeatedly made available the student's name and details of his medical conditions not only within the university, but to the U of M Alumni Association and the general public by filing a lawsuit.
"We were concerned about the exposure to the university," Barnard told arbitrator Arne Peltz, who is hearing Lukács' grievance over his three-month suspension without pay last fall.
At an earlier labour hearing on May 20, Science Dean Mark Whitmore testified that while Lukács' email obscured the student's name, other officials and professors responded -- or sent their own emails -- using the student's name and detailing his disability.
Barnard testified that he felt disappointment when Lukács ignored repeated orders from university administrators to drop the student's case. "It was unexpected," said Barnard.
Finally, Lukács brought a lawsuit demanding that the university withdraw the student's doctorate. "It had been brought into the public domain by this action," Barnard said.
"We considered this to be harassment of the student," Barnard told the hearing. The university president testified that Lukács had accused the student of abusing the university's system of accommodation.
The university and the U of M Faculty Association have agreed not to name the student or his medical condition during the hearing.
The university awarded the student his PhD despite his having twice failed a mandatory exam -- the university waived the requirement after the student claimed the disability of extreme examination anxiety.
Barnard said senior staff discussed firing Lukács, but settled on recommending to the board of governors a suspension without pay. The suspension ran from the first week of October to the end of the semester on Dec. 31, 2010, said Barnard, to create as little disruption as possible for students in the courses Lukacs taught last fall.
"What Prof. Lukács had been teaching would be taught by someone else," Barnard said, explaining that bringing back Lukács before the end of the semester would have been added disruption for his students.
Barnard said that he first became aware of the situation in late 2009 when Lukács' internal complaints about awarding the student his PhD brought a reprimand from science dean Mark Whitmore.
"The student's case is done," the university told Lukács, repeatedly, Barnard said, though U of M was willing to hold generic discussions about disability accommodation policies.
Barnard said he has been involved in other serious discipline cases during his three years as U of M president, but was not asked by the university's lawyer to provide any details.
Barnard is expected to begin cross-examination by UMFA lawyer Garth Smorang next Monday.
In a separate legal matter, the U of M and Lukács await a judge's ruling whether Lukacs has the right to sue the university in a bid to have the student's doctorate withdrawn.
Previously Lukács has said he believes the university has been making ongoing attempts to punish him for bringing the issue to light.