November 01, 2012

Cause célèbre scholar queried Met managers

A psychology professor suspended after criticising university managers is to face a disciplinary hearing for alleged "gross misconduct".
Times Higher Education understands that Ian Parker, professor of psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, will face two charges in relation to a confidential email sent to his colleagues about the appointment of a senior lecturer.

In the email, seen by THE, Professor Parker claims the appointment process was "not transparent to other members of the department" because staff had not been involved in shortlisting candidates and had been "discouraged" from attending the interviews. This "extraordinary state of affairs...may give rise to unfortunate (no doubt mistaken) perceptions about how open and fair this process was".

The senior lecturer appointed had their PhD supervised by the head of department, although Professor Parker says "there is nothing wrong with the prior connection". However, he adds, the lack of transparency raised "questions about the way the department is...being managed".

The message, which was also sent to John Brooks, Manchester Met's vice-chancellor, urges senior management to review their decision-making processes.

According to his supporters, Professor Parker, co-director of the department's Discourse Unit, will face charges that he "constructed and widely distributed an email [that] intended to undermine the credibility of a head of department", adding that this "constitutes a failure to comply with a reasonable management instruction".

The date of the disciplinary hearing has yet to be announced.

A petition demanding Professor Parker's reinstatement has received nearly 3,500 signatories. Noam Chomsky, emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has backed the scholar, and Manchester Met staff have voted for possible strike action over staff victimisation.

The university has refused to comment on the charges, although it previously claimed that speculation linking the suspension to questions of departmental "secrecy" had been "wholly inaccurate".


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