We can finally celebrate the departure of Elizabeth Cannon as president of the University of Calgary. A grotesque statement from Gordon Ritchie, the chair of the Board of Governors on Jan. 29, 2018 announced the long-anticipated news — Cannon will resign as the president of the University of Calgary. The statement, full of typical Cannonist propaganda, praised Cannon’s “achievements” and “legacy” and attempted to reassure us that with the already established “Eyes High strategy in place through 2022 and the new Academic and Research Plans approved,” all we need to do is follow some new Cannon in the 2020 and beyond.
Thank you very much, Mr. Ritchie, but I beg to disagree.
In fact, I would argue that the process of Cannonization that started eight years ago in our institution as a whole — because this process started several years earlier in the Schulich School of Engineering, with the same devastating results — brought to the University of Calgary nothing but blatant academic freedom abuse leading to many internationally recognized scientists leaving, the lowest international rankings ever, arrogant, nepotistic and patronage appointments not based on any real academic merit, unseen before cronyism that’s related to nepotistic appointments of politically connected relatives, unprecedented growth in mid-level bureaucracy who tell academic faculty members what to do while not being qualified to do so whatsoever, murky money deals with foreign companies and institutions implicated in international sanction violations, attempts to defend in court the ludicrous claim that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply on Cannonized university campuses, exertion of total control over the University of Calgary’s Faculty Association, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, and Students’ Union, so that they close their eyes to Cannonist administrative abuse, omnipresent but vigorously denied conflicts of interest, one of which led to an unprecedented independent investigation by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, putting our institution in profound national disrepute.
So, what are the bottom lines of the Cannonization of our institution? The exceptionally low 2018 International ranking of 217th in the world by the oldest and the most prestigious international university ranking, Quacquarelli Symonds, beaten only by the 218th ranking from 2011. A remarkable “achievement,” considering the fact that the University of Calgary ranked 149th before the Cannonist takeover. There’s also the almost 36 per cent growth in non-academic “management and professional” bureaucracy on campus, which suffocates normal academic governance and immensely increases the continuous financial burden on our institution without contributing to the enhancement of its academic goals and the almost 100 per cent growth of the failing Qatar campus, with Elizabeth Cannon appointed in 2016 as a Governor of the for-profit Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha.
The list can go on and on, but we will stop here, since we can summarize it with one word — corruption. And corruption cannot lead to academic excellence. It always leads to institutional disrepute, degeneration, demoralization of academic life, academic freedom abuse, continuing nepotism and patronage appointments not based on real need or merits.
So, Mr. Ritchie, we cannot have our “eyes high,” sorry. The reason being that we already have them quite high and rolling. And we do not want to take you up on your offer for the continuing Cannonization of our institution. In fact, we want to bid goodbye not only to Elizabeth Cannon. Today we want to say ‘Farewell!’ to all Cannons, including yourself.
This letter is for the many academics that agree with all of the above, but fear to openly state it because of academic, administrative and judicial reprisals from the governing Cannonist clique.
Martin P, Mintchev, Ph.D., P.Eng., FAIMBE
Professor of Engineering
Adjunct Professor of Surgery