Tenured faculty all over the world just woke up this morning to discover that their tenure means absolutely nothing. I wonder how many will be grabbing torches and pitchforks and heading for Mike Mahon's house.
This letter has to be read to be believed. The alleged legal provision for utterly arbitrary and capricious firing of tenured faculty cited by Mahon is in boldface.
14 October, 2016
Dear University Community,
As many have heard through media reports, I recently took action to
suspend a faculty member, Dr. Anthony Hall, from duties and privileges
without pay. This action has not been taken lightly, or without serious
consideration, debate and expert legal guidance on appropriate process and
the implications for both the faculty member in question, and our
As a University we have made every effort to respect the privacy of Dr.
Hall and have told those writing to the University on this issue and to
the media that we cannot comment on issues related to the employment of an
individual with the University. However, Dr. Hall has chosen to make this
issue very public and share through his social media and online channels,
and with the media itself, partial details of conversations and actions
the University has taken. The University of Lethbridge Faculty
Association (ULFA) also has chosen to provide commentary direct to the
media on this issue.
In order to ensure that there is accurate information available, I can
share that the suspension of Dr. Hall was done in accordance with section
22(3) of the Post-secondary Learning Act (PSLA) of the Province of
Alberta. Section 22(3) states that, “Subject to any existing agreement, a
president may, in the president’s discretion, suspend from duty and
privileges any member of the academic staff at the university and shall
forthwith report the president’s action and the reasons for it (a) to the
board, and (b) to the executive committee of the general faculties
Both the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of the General
Faculties Council were informed of the suspension on October 5, 2016.
ULFA, in their recent media commentary, has stated that in their opinion
the suspension violates provincial law. As ULFA has been informed, there
is nothing in the existing agreement, the Faculty Handbook, that limits
the ability of the President to act, or would subordinate the PSLA to the
Faculty Handbook. It is therefore lawful and prudent for the University
to have taken the actions that I have. While ULFA has a different
interpretation of how to apply the PSLA in this instance, they do have the
option of requesting a judicial review of the use of Section 22(3) to
suspend Dr. Hall.
Again, the decision to suspend Dr. Hall was not made easily or quickly.
This action is not focused on Dr. Hall’s published scholarship, driven by
complaints of students, or the demands of external advocacy groups. It is
focused on his YouTube based videos and comments in social media that have
been characterized as being anti-Semitic, supportive of holocaust denial
and engagement in conspiracy theories. In sharing and communicating his
views such as he has, we have a concern that Dr. Hall has contravened
section 3 of the Alberta Human Rights Act, and that he has created an
environment that is discriminatory for students and his faculty colleagues
whose personal backgrounds, research topics or beliefs are at odds with
Dr. Hall’s stated views. The University is reviewing Dr. Hall’s online
activities to determine if a complaint to the appropriate Human Rights
tribunal is warranted and justifiable and to determine if a discriminatory
atmosphere has been created by Dr. Hall.
I acknowledge that this issue is distracting for our community, can be
divisive and is bringing uncomfortable attention to our University. It is
for this reason that I have chosen to write to the community to provide as
much information as I am able. As always, our goal is to work within the
values of the University, as noted in our Strategic Plan (link below), to
support the communities we serve and create an environment that enables
the success of our students, faculty and staff.
Mike Mahon, Ph.D.
President & Vice-Chancellor