- Pre-Election Letter to CUFA BC Members - May 10, 2013
- Professors Support NDP Proposal on Needs-Based Student Grants, but Say More Still Can Be Done - April 23, 2013
- CUFA BC Releases E-Book on Academic Governance - April 10, 2013
- UBC-O, UNBC and SFU Professors to be Honoured for Using Their Research in Service of the Community - April 3, 2013
UBC-O, UNBC and SFU Professors to be Honoured for Using Their Research in Service of the Community - April 3, 2013
- Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 08:12
- Written by Robert Clift
UBC-O, UNBC and SFU Professors to be Honoured for Using Their Research in Service of the Community
CUFA BC News Release
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
VANCOUVER -- A Sociology professor whose community outreach is changing how people look at social issues, a Ecosystem Science professor whose research saved Canada over one-third of a billion dollars, and a Health Sciences professor who has dedicated his research to helping vulnerable and marginalized persons will receive this year's CUFA BC Distinguished Academics Awards on Wednesday, April 3rd.
UBC-Okanagan's Dr. Christopher Schneider will receive the 2013 Early in Career Award Sponsored by Scotiabank for his work in helping the general public to better understand the society in which they live. Dr. Schneider's public sociology ranges from frequent media interviews, to conducting workshops for RCMP officers, to encouraging his students to bring a non-student friend to class to learn how sociologists look at the world.
UNBC's Dr. Kathy Lewis will receive the 2013 Academic of the Year Award for applying her research on pine beetle-infested wood to defend Canada's interests in front of a Softwood Lumber Agreement arbitration panel in 2012. Dr. Lewis' testimony was key to Canada winning the arbitration and avoiding a potential penalty of $380 million.
SFU's Dr. Robert Hogg will receive the 2013 Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award for his long commitment to using his epidemiological research to help save and improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized populations. In particular, his work with HIV-positive persons has received both scientific and community awards, demonstrating the wide impact of his research.
These awards are presented annually by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA BC) to recognize outstanding faculty members at BC's public universities who use their research and scholarly work to benefit the general public.
"Dr. Schneider's public sociology demonstrates the tremendous power of stepping outside ourselves to look at everyday things with new eyes," said Dr. Richard Kool, President of CUFA BC. "Dr. Lewis' defense of Canada's trade interests demonstrates the immense potential value of university-based research. Dr. Hogg's commitment to vulnerable and marginalized populations is a perfect example of why we need publicly-funded research."
Sheryl MacKay, host of CBC Radio One's North by Northwest, will emcee the awards dinner on Wednesday, April 3rd at the Law Courts Inn in Vancouver.
The CUFA BC Distinguished Academics Awards are in their nineteenth year and receive generous support from Scotiabank, CBC Radio One, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, the University of Northern British Columbia, and Royal Roads University.
CUFA BC represents 4,600 university professors, instructors, academic librarians and other academic staff at the province's five doctoral universities - SFU (Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey campuses), UBC (Vancouver and Kelowna campuses), UNBC (Prince George, Terrace, Fort St. John and Quesnel campuses), UVic and Royal Roads University.
For further information, please contact Robert Clift, Executive Director of CUFA BC, at 604-817-1649.
Cuts Will Hurt Students, Grant Program a Gimmick say Profs - February 19, 2013
- Published on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 14:27
- Written by Robert Clift
Cuts Will Hurt Students, Grant Program a Gimmick say Profs - February 19, 2012
The 2013/14 provincial budget shortchanges students and their families according to the organization representing professors and other academic staff at BC's public research universities.
"The provincial government perpetuates the myth that its cuts to the operating grants for universities, colleges and institutes will have no effect on students," said Robert Clift, Executive Director of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA BC).
"Students have already lost support services and learning opportunities due to inadequate funding and these new cuts will shortchange students even further."
"By 2015, per student operating grants to universities, colleges and institutes will have dropped 20% in real terms since the Liberals formed government," Clift added.
The creation of the BC Training and Education Savings Grant will do little to help students and their families, say the professors.
"The BC Training and Education Savings Grant is a cynical gimmick", Clift said. "The value of the government's contribution will not even cover the increase in tuition fees by the time a child reaches age 18."
"Using the government's numbers, the value of the government's contribution will fall $466 short of the tuition fee increase. Using more realistic calculations, the gap is $819," Clift added. "This is on top of tuition fees that have already increased 99% under the Liberals."
The government's Skills and Training Plan also falls far short of what is needed, according to the professors.
"The investments announced by the government are one time and will not add a single new student space", Clift said. "Moreover, the plan ignores the fact that 2/3 of job openings over the next decade will require a college or university credential other than trades certification."
"The government's training plan turns back the clock 40 years, treating British Columbians as hewers of wood and compressors of gas," Clift added. "It practically ignores the growing impact of the value-added and knowledge economies."
The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC represents 4,600 professors, librarians, instructors, lecturers and other academic staff at BC's five public research universities - UBC (Vancouver and Kelowna), SFU (Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver), UVic (Victoria), UNBC (Prince George, Quesnel, Terrace, Fort St. John) and Royal Roads (Victoria and international)
Research, Science, and Death Threats - January 10, 2013
- Published on Thursday, 10 January 2013 12:29
- Written by Richard Kool
Research, science and death threats
by Richard Kool, President, CUFA BC
It was a few years ago that I was talking with a colleague, a prominent scholar in the international realm of climate change research, who told me how some of his associates, primarily in the USA, were getting death threats. Around that time, the late Dr. Stephen Schneider, a leading climatologist at Stanford University (who died of natural causes), told Tierramérica "'I have hundreds of threatening emails…. He believes scientists will be killed over this. 'I'm not going to let it worry me... but you know it’s going to happen,’ said Schneider, one of the most respected climate scientists in the world. ‘They shoot abortion doctors here.'" (Leahy, 2010)
And while Prof. Schneider's predictions have (thankfully) not come to pass, around that time I started a database of death threats against scientists and was really stunned by what I could find during a cursory inventory of the open internet.
I brought this issue up in the spring of 2011 at CAUT Council and admit to having been a bit nervous about opening this conversation up, as I had never heard it being discussed in any public context. Yet what can be a greater threat to academic freedom and free speech, I asked, than the threat of being murdered because of one's research? After my short presentation, two other Council members stood up in support of my comments. One spoke about an immunologist colleague who regularly gets death threats from groups in the US who didn't like his stand on immunization. Another spoke of a colleague who was threatened by animal rights groups for his research on animals. And the impacts of receiving death threats are real! While I could find little published work on this topic, a paper in the Psychiatric Bulletin reported (Owen, 1992).
Threats made by patients to harm, or even kill, their psychiatrists, may cause great stress to both the doctor and his or her family. This potential source of anxiety is seldom discussed by the profession and is a neglected area in the literature, perhaps indicating that denial is a common mechanism used to cope with any fear engendered by such threats.
I was recently reminded that this level of threat is an ongoing part of the lives of some of our colleagues while attending a winter holiday celebration at UBC. At this event, I overheard a faculty member talking about the threats that they experience because of the medical research they do, which involves animal experimentation. This professor has gotten threats via mail and email, and has had phone calls made to them in the night.
While there are a variety of issues that may lead individuals to threaten scholars with murder, by far the greatest number of threats I've been able to find relate to climate change and animal-based research (others in my database are connected to evolution, and forensic anthropology). For example:
- Death threat for scientist: A death threat has been made against an internationally recognized scientist attending the 34th International Congress of Physiological Sciences conference in Christchurch. A letter from anti-vivisection protesters warns "before this person leaves New Zealand, he may be dead".
- Two of the scientists involved in "Climategate" -- the e-mail hacking incident at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, UK -- have been emailed death threats since the contents of their private e-mails were leaked to the world. No further information can be revealed about these particular threats at present because they are currently under investigation with the FBI in the United States.
- US climate scientists say they're experiencing a barrage of hate mail and death threats, and that law enforcement agencies are failing to act.
- In Australia, the climate for climate-science researchers has deteriorated to an alarming state. At least a dozen university climate scientists have in recent months received messages threatening death or violence against themselves and, in some cases, their families.
What should we do about these threats as faculty members? When their scientists were being threatened, the major Australian university administrations took the threats very seriously and quickly responded (Woodward, 2011). First, faculty need to be aware that any death threat should be reported to the appropriate police authorities: it should not be ignored. Threatened faculty members, while rightly concerned for untoward publicity about the threat, need to be able to let their faculty association and appropriate administrative authority know about the threat, in confidence. Both faculty associations and university administrations need to be able to offer support, both privately and where appropriate publicly, for the threatened member. And the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Association of University and Colleges of Canada should collaborate to investigate the reality of the threats being made to faculty members, and then propose, if necessary, steps that might be taken to address the challenge. (Oreskes, 2010)
Leahy, Stephen. (2010, 9 March 2010). Violent backlash against climate scientists. Tierramérica. Retrieved from http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50607
Oreskes, Naomi, & Conway, Erik M. (2010). Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoking to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.
Owen, John. (1992). Death threats to psychiatrists. Psychiatric Bulletin, 16, 142-144. doi: 10.1192/pb.16.3.142
Woodward, Colin. (2011, 9 June 2011). After death threats to climate researchers, Australian universities take tough protection measures. The Chronicle of Higher Education.