Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, in Canada, “unjustly” fired a scholar who objected to “inappropriate pressure” from a privately financed think tank on academic matters, says a report released on Thursday by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. The report was part of an investigation that raised questions about academic freedom and the role of a donor in university affairs.
The association said the two universities should publicly apologize to Ramesh Thakur, a leading scholar on peace-and-security studies and former U.N. diplomat who was fired as director of the Balsillie School for International Affairs, which the two institutions jointly operate along with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, known as CIGI. Mr. Thakur had protested the center’s effort to become more involved in academic affairs at the school. Both the center and the school are financially supported by the BlackBerry magnate Jim Balsillie.
The 78-page report made six other recommendations, including that both universities “develop clear and comprehensive guidelines” for dealing with donors. Responding in a statement, the two universities said they “strenuously disagree” with the interpretation of events and the findings.
Mr. Thakur told The Globe and Mail, in Toronto, that he felt exonerated and would not have taken the job of director if had it been clear to him that “the school was a wholly owned subsidiary of CIGI.” He plans to leave Canada to take a position at the Australian National University.