WLU and UW must stand up for academic integrity

An academic inquiry into the firing of Dr. Ramesh Thakur by the Balsillie School of International Affairs has made potentially damaging allegations regarding the academic integrity of the school and of the two universities that jointly administer it. According to the report, Thakur was fired for objecting to including the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a private investor, in on the decision-making process for academic programs.

This case is deeply troubling on many grounds. Firstly, CIGI having the ability to influence the development of the academic process of the university is not acceptable. Private donors do not determine the academics or administration of any of our public universities in this country, as our educational institutions would lose their credibility. This should be no different at the Balsillie School.

Secondly, it is improper to fire the head of an academic institution for defending academic integrity and, as the report suggests, manufacture reasons for his dismissal that have no grounding in reality. This case of wrongful dismissal would be unacceptable in any private sector corporation.

Lastly, the silence of UW and WLU in this matter sets a terrible precedent.
The reality is that increasingly our academic institutions will have to turn to private dollars in future years as governments tighten their belts and reduce funding to university operations all while requiring low levels of tuition. Cases of private donors and investors attempting to influence university operations will become more common, which threatens their academic integrity.

The University of Waterloo and Laurier need to make a strong statement in favour of academic integrity and issue an apology to Thakur.