Constructive dismissal ...

After receiving an arbitration decision and recommendations from their lawyer — an expert in employment law — that would have exonerated me of any wrongdoing, MacEwan Administrators supressed this information and chose to continue with termination. They held a brainstorming session looking for reasons to bolster their decision to terminate me. The summary from that session is included in the FOIP'd records.

Reasons to dismiss

Given the date — on or after 25 October — this document should be comprehensive of Administration's case against me.

To look at the points in the document:

1a. Pumpkin & ceiling. As illustrated by the emails below, Jonathan Withey (the current Chair) was the one who recommended me. Much of the department was aware (including Hilts). MacEwan's Communications Officer even commended me for it! 

From: Jonathan Withey
To: ΑΩ, Elizabeth (Edm Journal) Withey
Date: Thu, 01 Oct 2009. 14:07
Subject: Re:

I know a man who might...ΑΩ, any thoughts? It's for the Journal...


>>> Withey, Elizabeth (Edm Journal) 10/1/2009 2:03 PM >>>

Would you have a way of destroying a pumpkin in your lab, in an entertaining/theatrical way?

I'm in charge of the story, and a web guy will do the actual video.

You don't have to. But it could be fun.

Elizabeth Withey
Arts Writer
Edmonton Journal
780 429 5306

From: David Beharry
To: ABCXYZ, Pat Sullivan
Cc: Aimee Hill, ΑΩ
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 09:36
Subject: Re: Journal article and video

Hello, I saw this yesterday and figured ABCXYZ and ΑΩ must have had something to do with this story. Thanks for helping out the Journal. You guys really make my job easy.

David Beharry
Media Relations Advisor
Strategic Communications and Corporate Marketing


1b. Ammonium nitrate. This was an issue of purchasing this chemical when we had some on hand. However, I was not at all involved in purchasing the chemical. A colleague purchased it after he couldn't find the stock MacEwan had on hand (it was misplaced). My colleague received a letter from Administration critical of his decision to purchase it, but his actions were in no way ill-intended or illegal. Indeed, the chemical was used in an undergraduate experiment at the time. I was not named in this at all. Sullivan should know all this — he wrote the letter to my colleague. 

2. Instructional material development. I had permission from the department Chair to use my developing textbook with students and did so for two year without issue. Higgins, Sullivan, and Hilts were supportive of the development and aware of my use in the classroom. From a meta-perspective, faculty should engage in instructional material development for a plethora of pedagogically sound reasons.

While my evaluations initially did decrease with the use of my textbook — which was expected — they rebounded and by the forth term were back to the departmental average. In April 2010, Sullivan stated that my "winter term evaluations have met the standards set out in my letter of Feb 2010. Thank you taking the time and effort to deal with previous student concerns. I trust that these standards will be maintained on future evaluations."

3a. Anger. I was frustrated when Hilts distributed the draft Textbook Adoption Committee criteria the day before the departmental meeting. This Committee was a kept secret from everyone in the department not on the Committee. Anger was never directed at anyone; I just closed my door hard when going out to get some fresh air.

3b. Creating a poisoned atmosphere through dissemination of emails. Section 3.5.4 of the MacEwan Academic Freedom policy grants faculty the right and responsibility to help shape the direction of their departments, programs, and faculties. The only event I am aware of occurred in 2007! And the only person I upset was Higgins; faculty were supportive of my email. Evidently, faculty only have the right to agree with Administrators. If this statement refers to another event, I'd love the opportunity to post those emails in context as well.

3c. Parking incident. Okay, you got me. I was part of an external group attending a weekend function at MacEwan, and the meters were charging weekday rates, not weekend rates. People in the group were upset by this. As I worked at MacEwan, I bore the brunt of their frustration. I informed the head of Parking of this and when I received a dismissive letter, followed it up with a more strongly worded letter. I quickly apologized. This occurred in May 2010.

3d. Allegations of supposed committee manipulation. The FOIP'd records substantiate these allegations.

4. Fixity to contrary behaviour. Not at all sure what this is about. Yes, I was vocal on Academic Council, Student Success Committee, Faculty Development, Faculty Evaluation, and numerous other institutional committees. I advocated for high academic standards to provide students with a strong foundation for their future careers and to make a MacEwan degree a valued and recognized degree nationally and internationally. I supported the students on some of their petitions to Academic Council. I questioned registration practices that disenfranchised students. I questioned why Administrators on Academic Council always voted as a block. All of this is in the meeting minutes. Notably, none of what I was advocating for benefited me as an individual. (Indeed, I advocated for rigorous faculty evaluation and promotion processes.) Yes, I refused to agree with Higgins in the many hostile meetings he had with me, where he angrily and repeatedly demanded that I agree with him and admit my guilt to all his allegations. Yes, all of this is permitted under MacEwan's Academic Freedom policy and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (among others). 

5a. Plagiarism. MacEwan Administration repeatedly breached policy and process, subverted and biased the committee by putting MacEwan's in-house lawyer on the committee, and suppressed an arbitration decision that would have exonerated me of any wrongdoing — an arbitration decision that was provided, unsolicited, by MacEwan's external lawyer!

5b. Unprofessional behaviour. Not sure what unprofessional behaviour I modeled to students. I act with the utmost professionalism at all times. Indeed, if I was even perceived to step out of line, the event would have become a nucleus for condemnation (see the issues blown out of proportion, above).

6. ???. Are the Administrators desperate for more issues to bolster their case?

And to emphasize: never have any of the above been in my personnel file.