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This article was published 30/9/2011 (3673 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A student's claim of a disability was troubling, disturbing and suspicious, University of Manitoba mathematics Prof. Gábor Lukács testified Friday.
But Lukács insists any "crusade" he was on was against the dean of graduate studies, Jay Doering, and not the PhD student at the centre of the academic controversy that has attracted global attention.
"The issue here is what the dean did, and the student was the benefactor of that," Lukács told his grievance hearing under questioning from U of M lawyer Ken Maclean.
The 28-year-old Lukács, who comes up for tenure next summer, told arbitrator Arne Peltz he took on the U of M administration to protect the integrity of the university's degrees.
His one-professor stand against the university over a student he hasn't taught or even met has set off an international furor.
Lukács was suspended without pay for three months last year for disclosing the personal health information of the PhD student -- Lukács had named the student in court documents. The student twice failed compulsory exams but was awarded a doctorate because he suffers from an extreme examination anxiety disability.
Lukács testified it was troubling and disturbing that the PhD student waited until three weeks after he'd failed a compulsory exam for the second time to declare he suffers from a disability.
It should raise "a certain level of suspicion," he said. "This is a condition declared way after the exams."
"The student got through an undergraduate degree, a master's degree, and the better part of a PhD," Lukács said.
"The student had no prior record of disability until after the second failure."
His legal challenges against the PhD focused not on the student, but on Doering's decision to overrule accommodation proposals, waive the graduation requirements and award the PhD, Lukács said.
The U of M's policies do not allow for a waiver, Lukács argued.
"I was challenging that the university waived the requirements instead of accommodating the student. The university was violating its own policies," he testified.
"I have the right to challenge the authority of an officer of the university who usurped the authority of the math department. Dr. Doering had no authority to make the decisions he was making," said Lukács.
Constantly haggling with Maclean over semantics, Lukács said he considered demands from his bosses -- from science dean Mark Whitmore all the way up to president David Barnard -- that he back off to be requests, not orders.
Being told by his boss it was imperative to drop the issue was not a directive, Lukács told Maclean.
The courts recently ruled Lukács has no standing to sue the U of M in an attempt to have the PhD rescinded. Lukács did not teach the student or have any involvement with his studies.
Lukács repeatedly told Maclean any disclosure of the student's identity was to satisfy the requirements of his legal action, or because "privacy cannot trump the legitimate purpose of the (math) department council" to handle academic matters.
Maclean said Lukács had been front and centre in seeking media attention. He accused Lukács of not caring about the student's privacy.
Lukács said his actions have minimized his chances of future employment: "Do you think this is something someone would do for fun?"
Lukács told the hearing he neither concedes the condition -- the parties have agreed not to name it during the hearing -- is a disability, nor that the student suffers from it.
Future hearing dates have yet to be set.