Professor David Mullan Gives QUFA Academic Freedom Lecture; Response by Professor Len Findlay (posted 22 March 2013)

On the evening of 6 March, Professor David Mullan delivered the 2013 QUFA Academic Freedom Lecture, entitled “The Academic Mission:  Principles and Institutional Responsibilities.”  He sketched the historical development and stressed the importance of faculty participation in university governance as a component of academic freedom.  Though he traced the concept of academic freedom to a legal case of 1723 (R. v. Chancellor of University of Cambridge), Prof. Mullan emphasized that “it is only with the 1966 Duff-Berdahl Report . . . that participation in governance begins to emerge explicitly as a critical component of AF.”  While this gave rise to optimism at the time, Prof. Mullan suggested that the battle is far from being won:  the AUCC’s 2011 Statement on Academic Freedom, for instance (which was signed by Queen’s Principal Woolf), does not even mention the role of academic Senates.

Professor Mullan outlined 22 “environmental factors,” such as growth in the number of universities, increasing government emphasis on job-training, increasing  internationalization, and the growth of a “non-academic administrative class,” that will impinge upon the potential for faculty to participate in governance, and he closed with practical suggestions for “enhancing participation.”  For the future use of QUFA and its members, he has kindly shared the slides on which his lecture is preserved in point-form, and they may be viewed as a pdf file here:  David Mullan – The Academic Mission (Mar. 2013).

In his response, Professor Len Findlay (University of Saskatchewan) affirmed Professor Mullan’s emphasis on the critical importance of faculty participation in university governance.  Distilling “Mullan’s 22” and citing numerous contemporary illustrations, Professor Findlay cited corporatization of  the university,  commodification of knowledge, and casualization of academic labour as the “three main threats to academic integrity and academic freedom.”  He closed by calling for the “reactivation of the collegium” and lamenting the failures of the U15 and AUCC to support collegial and academic values.  Although Professor Findlay spoke largely impromptu, he too has kindly reconstructed his text for our use:  see Len Findlay – Response to David Mullan (March 2013).

David Mullan (Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University) is a nationally recognized authority on administrative law and former president of QUFA.  Among his other contributions to QUFA’s efforts to protect faculty governance are his 2009 discussion paper “On Responsibility for Academic Programs” and his 2011 Comments on the “Functions of Senate” document (which was then being revised).

Len Findlay (Professor of English, University of Saskatchewan) is Chair of Academic Freedom and Tenure at CAUT and has long been actively involved in these issues at a national level.The QUFA Academic Freedom Lecture

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