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This article was published 24/11/2010 (3977 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The University of Manitoba Alumni Association won't give equal time to embattled math Prof. Gábor Lukács -- even after letting the president and two deans use the association's email list to give their side of the story to 40,000 alumni.
Association president Evan Kuz said Wednesday that the association won't provide its email list to people who oppose the university administration on the current controversy.
"We don't see it as a vehicle for debate. We are a vehicle for the university to send out messages to alumni.
"It's now before the courts," said Kuz.
Retired teacher Susan Sammons was one of those 40,000 alumni to receive a letter via email laying out U of M's reasons for granting a math student who suffers from extreme examination anxiety his PhD last month, even though the student did not meet all requirements.
Sammons says the alumni association should let members hear both sides of the matter.
Lukács is taking the university to court in January in a bid to have the PhD withdrawn. The university has suspended Lukacs without pay for three months, for allegedly making public the student's private health information.
The university recently received the PhD student's permission to reveal some details of the process which led to his being awarded his doctorate in math without passing one of three mandatory comprehensive exams -- that information went out electronically to alumni.
"I now await a response from my (alumni association) whom I challenged to provide the same platform to Dr. Lukács to outline his position to the alumni," she said.
Sammons said that Lukács "is paying a big price for his commitment to academic rigour as are all of us who value the University of Manitoba and its reputation.
"I now expect them to offer to do the same for Dr. Lukács. To do anything else would be a negation of their responsibility to present all sides of an issue that concerns us all. After all, the University of Manitoba Alumni is not just an arm of the university administration, but a partner representing all former graduates," she said.
Lukács said he was disappointed that the alumni association has decided to shut him out, adding however it took an active role in getting him suspended without pay.
Lukács said the association forwarded the letter he sent it to the U of M administration, which was then used as part of the evidence to suspend him without pay.
"I am disappointed that the alumni association was not interested in talking to me, a concerned faculty member who tried to caution them that the credibility of the degrees of their members may be affected," Lukács said.
"I find it morally questionable that they forwarded to the administration the information that I sent in good faith in order to protect their membership, and that subsequently it was used against me."
Lukács said he would to attend a forum organized by the alumni association to present his side of the dispute to interested alumni.
U of M public affairs director John Danakas said that the alumni association has email addresses for about 40,000 out of the university's more than 130,000 living graduates.
While the joint statements outlined the reasons why dean of graduate studies Jay Doering concluded that the student deserved his math doctorate without fulfilling all the requirements, the joint statements do not address how Doering presented the student's situation to the university senate, which ultimately approves all degrees prior to convocation.
Danakas said that Doering will not have anything further to say on the ongoing situation, and will not be made available for interviews.
-- With files from Aldo Santin
Alumna wants answers
Here are some of the questions that University of Manitoba alumna Susan Sammons wants answered by dean of graduate studies Jay Doering in the ongoing controversy over the awarding of a PhD in mathematics:
-- "What investigations did you engage in to ensure the accuracy of the diagnosis of 'severe, disabling exam anxiety that appears to have significantly impeded (the student's) ability to perform to (the student's) potential'? Did you seek a second opinion?"
-- "There is no explanation in either of these letters as to why the graduate studies committee 'indicated its preference for a waiver of the exam' in the face of two different recommendations from the department of mathematics and disability services."
-- "There is no explanation as to why the dean of the faculty of graduate studies concurred that the student need not retake the third comprehensive exam in order to obtain the unanimous 'A' grade. The terms 'broad consultation and a variety of opinions' does not constitute a coherent explanation, it merely displays agreement," Sammons said.
See for yourself
U of M's official statements by president David Barnard, dean of graduate studies Jay Doering, and dean of science Mark Whitmore.
Dr. Lukacs' response to Barnard's letter.