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Letters of Support from Students and Community Members

 

Letters stating an opinion on Denis Rancourt's case should be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with a cc to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

These students and community members have personal experience of Professor Rancourt's courses and campus projects.

 

BY FIRST-NAME ALPHABETICAL ORDER

(SEE BELOW FOR ALL FULL LETTERS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)

 

Aaron Hnatiw, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-19

Aileen Duncan, high school student and co-host of CHUO 89.1 FM; 2009-01-04

I think his ways of teaching are innovative, and he greatly contributes to the positive mood of CHUO.

Amy Hammett, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-06

Amy Teper, MSc candidate, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-21

Andrew Cudowski, student, Lakehead University; 2009-01-17

Anne Davison, alumna, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-07

In my seven years at various post-secondary institutions I never encountered a teacher of Denis' strength. He was (and still is) always willing to ask the toughest questions, which is the essence of true research and learning.
Ben Saifer, graduate student, Carleton University; 2009-01-22

Having spent a number of years outside of the academy after my undergraduate degree, the idea of re-entering university was not a particularly inspiring thought. Nonetheless, meeting Professor Rancourt in late 2007 was a catalytic experience. From the way in which he facilitated the Cinema Academica film series, to engaging discussions with him about critical pedagogy, Professor Rancourt challenged, provoked, and ultimately inspired me about the transformative potential of education.

Bernice Aye, alumna, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-15,17

Bob Nye, community member; 2009-01-17

Carl Karamaoun, community member; 2009-01-17

Carolyn Wall, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-05

I met him during one of his organised Cinema Politica events and found that he was a very unique teacher who is caring, personal and actually CARES about the people's education.

Chitat Lee, community member; 2009-01-17

Corey Balsam, community member; 2009-01-18

Rancourt's evident passion for progressive education and critical thought, coupled with the interest he takes in his students, both official and not, make him a model professor in my eyes, and someone who should be emulated, not thrown out on he street.

Corinne Allan, community member; 2009-01-22

Danny Cawley, alumnus, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-08

David Mandelzys, OISE Candidate, University of Toronto; 2009-01-05

The further I go through teacher's college at OISE, the further I realize how groundbreaking and innovative Professor Rancourt's pedagogical practice was.

David Moscrop, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-20

Dax D'Orazio, student, Carleton University, Cinema Politica co-organizer; 2009-01-20

Rancourt's film series is a great supplement to my studies at Carleton and one of the rare opportunities [for] critical and genuine discussion; often dealing with topics that are absent from public discourse.

Edelweiss D'Andrea, community member; 2009-01-29

Eithan Waldman, MA candidate, Queen's University; 2009-01-23

Elizabeth Holloway, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-07

Elizabeth MacKay, BSc. candidate, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-21

Professor Denis Rancourt has been an essential part of my experience at this university, and he has been so for many of my collegues. It is rare to find a professor who cares so genuinely about teaching. Many professors each their course material to the best of their ability as part of their job, but it is not their reason for being here. Professor Rancourt cares about not only conveying material, but about making students think critically, explore new ideas, take ownership of their own learning process and defend their ideas.

Emily Coffey, alumna, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-05

Eric Leduc, Etudiant de philosophie, Universite d'Ottawa; 2009-03-30

Sachez que la manière dont vous prenez en charge ce dossier me répugne au plus haut point et a diminué fortement mon opinion que j'avais de l'Université d'Ottawa.

Erin Lee, student, Vancouver Community College, Fashion Arts; 2009-01-16

Eve Wilensky, student, University of British Columbia; 2009-01-04

Professor Rancourt jolted me. He shook me with his words and woke me up.  I now know that I have to move beyond my education and start putting words into action.  I do not want to hide behind my mac book writing about atrocities or social injustice, I want to get in there and actually do something.

Éric Nathaniel Fisk, community member, concerned alumnus; 2009-01-06

Gavin D*, community member; 2009-01-07

Genevieve Chevrier, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-02-04

Malheureusement pour vous, l'Université d'Ottawa perds une autre étudiante graduée - et de belles publications, beaucoup d'argent et une personne de moins dans les statisques des études graduées du magazine Macleans.  J'avais dans l'idée de faire une maîtrise ici, mais c'est drôle, j'irai disperser mon talent ailleurs.  Je respecte beaucoup mon superviseur mais malheureusement les politiques de l'Université d'Ottawa me font suer.

Gilles Grenot, physics exchange student (France), University of Ottawa; 2010-11-18

Denis Rancourt was the best professor I had during my experience in Ottawa. I guess, since he was fired, many other professors, with less passion to teach, with less involvement in their work, would then disserve to be fired as well. Are they all fired too?

Graeme O'Farrell, community member; 2009-01-05

Harun Cicek, University of Ottawa alumnus; 2009-01-20

Ilya Golub, community member; 2009-01-07

Isabelle Soucy, student, University of Ottawa; 2009-01-05

I am grateful for those professors that go beyond the necessary and that find ways to motivate the students, encourage creativity, critical thinking, and action. Professors like these wake up the life in all of us that energizes us to reach our potential and surpass our limits. This is what Professor Denis Rancourt and professors like him represent.

James Douglas, community member; 2009-01-07,04, James Douglas - again; 2009-03-30

Jan Heynen, community member; 2009-01-16

Jane Gibson, alumna, University of Ottawa
Jennifer Cook
Jesse Baltutis
, MSc, London School of Economics

Professor Rancourt's course and the Friday night movie series is an extremely unique part of the University of Ottawa's community, and a unique chance for community members to meet and have open discussions.

Jesse Freeston, Journalist

And now here we are, the world is in the midst of reaping of the university's failure to reflect and meanwhile the university is busy breaking its own rules and purging its internal dissidents in order to avoid questioning itself. To avoid learning.

Jessica Carpinone, University of Ottawa alumna

In my opinion, he is the greatest professor the U of O had to offer. You would be fools to go through with your plans.

Joe Girard, community member
Judith Drutz
Judith Matheson
Julia Adam, community member
Julie Comber
, PhD candidate, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa

At these screenings and at the community events, Denis and I have had many discussions, including heated debates. Whether I agreed with his points or not, I have appreciated him challenging my thinking, and I have benefited intellectually from these educative exchanges.

Leslie Kaiser, community member; 2009-01-15,17

Linnea Rowlatt, community member
Lisa Nikmo
, community member
Luc-Anne Salm-Walker, community member
Luke Russell

We should be so lucky to have a professory such as Dr. Rancourt who not only can perform in a lab, but is passionate enough to concern himself ith the betterment of students, something that I personally noticed many of your faculty ignored. 

Maggi Elgeziry
Margaret Jensen
, Margaret Jensen - again, community member
Marjorie Robertson, community member

From the eclectic topics he introduced to provoke thoughtful discussion, to the broad issues he made vailable for exploration, to the engagement between community and academy he facilitated, to the relationships of mutual co-learning and co-teaching he encouraged, to the fostering of respect for inquiry his pedagogy embodied—we had experienced nothing like it during undergraduate and graduate level education.

Marie Galophe, PhD candidate, University of Ottawa

J’ai rencontré à l’Université d’Ottawa, en la personne de M. Rancourt, le professeur que j’attendais depuis mon entrée dans les études supérieures, en 2002, en France. Je suis immensément heureuse de cette rencontre qui m’a amenée à reconsidérer le métier d’enseignant mais qui m’a aussi amenée à reconsidérer ma vie et sa valeur.

Martha Ruben, MD, PhD; Martha Ruben - again
Max Kovalenkov, University of Ottawa alumnus
Michel Pilloud, community member

Je connais le professeur Rancourt et je pense qu'il se porte à la défense de la raison et de la vérité.

Mike Goguen, community member
Nathalie Chapados, student, University of Ottawa
Nathan M
,

Nathan M - again

It is clear that your administration's offer of mediation over an arbitrarily short period was disingenuous at best. Prof. Rancourt's acceptance of the mediation, only for the administration to pull out over "insufficient time" (due to a deadline of its own choosing) exposes the farce of your University's "due process" for what it is-- a bureaucratic front for a blatantly political process.

Neil (last name withheld)

Denis Rancourt is the only professor I am aware of who held events which:
-were open to the community
-encouraged people to take part in their own education
-were innovative on many fronts
-were frequently bi and tri-lingual
-represented diverse populations in age, economic status, ethnicity, accessibility, and most importantly, viewpoint.
-embraced a real passion for knowledge, even should that knowledge be inconvenient or unpopular.

Nicholas Aplin, P. Eng, retired teacher; 2009-01-04

Norman Pilon, community member
Oli Cosgrove
, community member
Paul Matthews, University of Ottawa alumnus

Currently I am enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education and I have found that the critical pedagogy to which Dr. Rancourt practices is not only highly regarded within the academic field of education but also considered in the best interests of students.  He was an inspiration for me to enter into the field of education!

Pantea Jafari, student, University of Ottawa
Philippe Marchand, PhD candidate, University of California (Berkeley)

Je suis donc un des nombreux étudiants qui, sans être d'accord en tous points avec les opinions et la pédagogie du professeur Rancourt, sont heureux que cette expérience ait généré de nombreuses discussions sur la façon d'enseigner à cette université, qui n'auraient pas eu lieu autrement.

Rehana Tejpar, University of Ottawa alumna
Rob Courcy, community member
Robert Crampton
Sheila Muxlow, Prairie Regional Organizer, Council of Canadians
Sherri Duncan
Stephane Laurence-Pressault, student, University of Ottawa

There has seldom been professors who have influenced me to act upon my ideas. Denis Rancourt was one of them.

Stephanie Thomas, student, University of Ottawa
Sylvain Rigaud, PhD student, France
Sylvia Smith, community member, teacher

I request that you listen to the people who are learning, collaborating, and making a difference in our world.  Dr. Rancourt is one of those people.

Thomas Kennedy, Founder, The UsuryFree Network
Wayne Sawtell
, student, University of Ottawa

Wayne Sawtell, again, as a graduate student in the Faculty of Science, University of Ottawo; 2009-11-16

Wayne Sawtell, again - in response to President Allan Rock's response, covert surveillance; 2010-01-06

Wayne Sawtell, and again - if refusing to receive grievance then why won't you investigate...? 2010-03-02

Wayne Sawtell, so clear, must arbitrate Rancourt grievances; 2011-02-10

Anonymous (gdykey089)

 


FULL LETTERS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

 (From most recent to oldest.)

 


 

From: Wayne Sawtell     TO: Allan Rock

DATE: 2011-FEB-10

SUBJECT: Unjust dismissal case

LINK to letter HERE

 


 

From: Gilles Grenot <>
Date: Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 9:48 PM
Subject: Standing by Denis Rancourt - former PHY 4385-5100 class student
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dear Mr. Rock,

I feel the need to support Denis Rancourt since I regret to have read he was fired from University of Ottawa. I am a former student of Denis Rancourt, I attended two classes with Denis Rancourt in 2008, the quantum physics class, and the graduate solid state physics course (PHY 4385-5100). Since I took these two classes, I can witness that although Denis Rancourt was practicing unusual teaching methods, he was clearly doing his job as a professor, was open to any question, was a good pedagogist, and had the rare ability to deal with individual interests in the topic he taught. These two classes are the one I keep the best memory of from my exchange student experience my two terms at University of Ottawa as a physics student.

Not only I learned about physics, but Denis Rancourt, mostly in the PHY 4385 class, was a precious professor to help his students in finding ways to solve problems. For that matter, I found very interesting to have to face very complex problems, to draw the strategy to break the problem. Also, I found his approach very enriching, again on a scientific point of view, since it allowed oneself to “be in the shoes of a researcher” dealing with a new tough and little documented problem. From there, could only emerge the need to get more knowledge of the subject, which came afterwards, from a deeper will than the absence of will that I personnaly usually experienced in France and in Canada. That is to say:  being stuffed with always more textbook knowledge and problems to solve always with the same precise technique, knowledge and techniques that I was never sure I really understood, which I never cared too much about since I always passed my exams with just guessing professor's minds and remembering no longer than the time of the exam what would help me pretend I am smart academically.

Finally, I want also to witness that Denis Rancourt encouraged me to work on a personal project related to the topic of the course, about glass fracture. And that the openmindeness of the class, the no-grade system, allowed me to consider why I was sitting there in this class. It triggered me up to realize that I no longer wanted to be a physicist, which I stopped running after right after my coming back to France.

Today, I am thankful for this "space of freedom" that Denis Rancourt have allowed to happen in his class. I am not sure I would not be still studying physics today otherwise, and being frustrated and not efficient in my work.

Denis Rancourt was the best professor I had during my experience in Ottawa. I guess, since he was fired, many other professors, with less passion to teach, with less involvement in their work, would then disserve to be fired as well. Are they all fired too?

Best Regards
Gilles Grenot
 


 

From: Wayne Sawtell <>
Date: 2 March 2010 23:23
Subject: Ombudsman report
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dear Mr. Rock,

My repeated requests to your office for an independent, full investigation into allegations that the previous administration hired undergraduate University of Ottawa student Maureen Robinson to conduct covert surveillance of activist groups on campus and of Professor Denis Rancourt have been met consistently with the same response: that the matter is the subject of legal proceedings and you could not comment on it. I understand that the university administration now refuses to participate further in the legal proceedings required by an APUO union grievance of the matter made by Dr. Rancourt. Therefore, I think that addressing my concerns with a public explanation of the university’s actions in this matter as well as a full, independent investigation is completely in order. There are no more excuses, Mr. Rock. In fact, it seems that Dr. Rancourt is conducting his own investigation of the covert surveillance allegations, and the U of O administration is not looking very good, so it is in your interest to clarify the situation.

The U of O administration is alleged to have obtained illegitimately, through Maureen Robinson, an audio recording of a guest lecture that Professor Rancourt’s gave at Queen’s University. It has come to light that the U of O administration made legal submissions to the IPC (Information and Privacy Commissioner) stating that e-mail exchanges with Maureen Robinson about the audiotape were a matter of legal client-solicitor privilege and therefore not subject to Freedom of Information Request legislation. Now the administration claims that Ms. Robinson was hired purely for clerical duties. However, the university had also provided documentation showing the extent to which Ms. Robinson reported to U of O legal counsel Michelle Flaherty on the activities of Denis Rancourt and student activists. Things just are not adding up here. I think it is pretty low to stoop to the level of using the student whom evidence suggests the university hired to perform covert surveillance as a scapegoat. How can anyone possibly believe that Maureen Robinson produced numerous reports for the administration of her own accord while employed as a clerk? I think an explanation is in order, Mr. Rock.  

The Ombudsman of the FPS (Fulcrum Publishing Society) concluded recently that Maureen Robinson had acted unethically, according to the Fulcrum’s editorial constitution. For such a report, this ombudsman was fired by the Fulcrum’s Board of Directors. If nothing is wrong with the actions taken by the Ottawa U administration, then why did the ombudsman report the opposite? Why was he fired for doing so?

The cover-up is getting deeper and as President of the University, you risk being implicated in it. In the name of transparency and accountability, I therefore urge you to provide a fuller response and to release the audiotapes.

Sincerely yours,
Wayne Sawtell
M.Sc. candidate in Biology (-------)

 


From: Wayne Sawtell <>
Date: Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 10:21 AM
Subject: Covert surveillance at Ottawa U
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: Denis Rancourt <>, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Sean Kelly < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >, Fulcrum News Editor < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Dear Mr. Rock,

Thank you for your Dec. 4 response to my letter of Nov. 16. I appreciate the fact that you are not at liberty to comment on the substance of issues surrounding the dismissal of Denis Rancourt because of the legal implications.

I would however respectfully challenge the notion that all the required procedures were followed in this case. I should say, there was a demonstrable lack of good faith on the part of the administration, and some very dubious procedures were followed by the administration that contravene the university’s constitution and violate the collective agreement with APUO. Specifically, I am personally alarmed by the recent evidence from the university’s files (http://rancourt.academicfreedom.ca/background/reportoncovertsurveillance.html) that has come to light showing that the administration conducted covert surveillance of Professor Rancourt and activist groups on campus. There is concrete evidence that the administration engaged a student of Ottawa University to spy on Professor Rancourt and certain student activist groups and to report on her findings to the administration. Science student and then-Fulcrum news editor Maureen Robinson was used by the administration to impersonate someone else and tape record meetings, for example. I like to think that I live in a democratic country where one does not have to worry about the authorities at any level spying on people, that surveillance cameras are used for people’s protection and not to track the activities of people who disagree with corporate control over public institutions like universities. Such actions directly contradict previous statements by the administration that support student activism and even activism courses in certain faculties of the university.

I call on you as President of the university to publicly denounce such tactics and to initiate a full, independent investigation into the actions taken by the previous administration in the years leading up to the decision to dismiss Professor Rancourt. I believe it is also important and of interest to students to make the results of this investigation public.

Yours truly,

Wayne Sawtell

M.Sc. candidate in Biology,

-----------------------------------------

From: Office of the President < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date: 2009/12/3
Subject: RE: appeal of dismissal
To: Wayne Sawtell

Dear Mr. Sawtell,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me with your concerns regarding the dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt from the University of Ottawa.

While I appreciate the perspective from which you have positioned your arguments, please be assured that the Executive Committee gave careful consideration to Mr. Rancourt’s dossier before recommending dismissal with cause to the Board of Governors. Moreover, all procedures required by the collective agreement with the Association des Professeurs de l'Université d'Ottawa (APUO) were followed.

To respect confidentiality and legal obligations surrounding this matter, I cannot comment further. However, I continue to stand by the dismissal recommendation made previously this year.

Thank you once again for your interest and understanding.

Kind regards,

Allan Rock

President and Vice-Chancellor
 


from    Wayne Sawtell <>
to    allan.rock@uottawa
cc    Denis Rancourt <>
date    Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 10:36 PM
subject    appeal of dismissal
   

Dear President Rock,

As a an alumnus and a current graduate student in the Science Faculty at the University of Ottawa, I am writing to ask you to reconsider a major decision that you made this summer: the dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt of the Physics Department. Dr. Rancourt made unique and valuable contributions to the university not only through teaching Physics for 20 years and performing productive, high-level research, but also through a weekly campus radio show, ‘The Train’, and a weekly documentary film series, ‘Cinema Academica’, both of which are about social and political issues of concern to everyone.

Despite mixed feelings amongst the student body and teaching faculty about the issues championed by Professor Rancourt, I believe that looking at the record from a different perspective would actually strengthen the university. I agree with Dr. Rancourt’s position that criticism of institutional behaviour is healthy and constructive even though it may sound harsh, and there is a striking lack of institutional analysis both at Canadian universities and in society in general. It seems to me that many people in the university administration and teaching staff possibly took too personally comments that Dr. Rancourt made over the past few years for the sake of enhancing learning within the university and for the sake of justice in our broader society. Therefore, the advice that you were given by others in the administration was most likely very biased.

Several initiatives that Dr. Rancourt undertook during his tenure at the University of Ottawa aimed to generate more independent thinking and activism amongst the student body. The pedagogical literature is overwhelming in pointing out that unequal power relations within the classroom pose a sever impediment to learning and critical thinking. The several courses that Professor Rancourt established, all of which were a variation on the theme of activism in work and study, were of enormous importance. As an undergraduate, I witnessed firsthand how the Science in Society course attempted to redefine the classroom setting and to set aside proven ineffective traditional teaching methods in favour of an approach led by the students themselves. SCI1101 broadened my view of the role of science and the scientific method and made me think about the impact that my work as a scientist might have in the future on power relationships among groups in Canada and abroad.

Unfortunately, before the novel approach of SCI1101 had a chance to take hold and have an effect across the entire university, the course was cancelled by the previous administration even before the two-year pilot project was completed. The course was never given a chance to be offered in French after the first year in English. This was extremely unfair to the large Francophone population of students, whom I feel form a crucial part of the university and Canadian society in general.

I also enjoyed the weekly film series, Cinema Academica that Dr. Rancourt started. I attended most weeks and participated in the discussions after the films, which were always more animated and lengthy than any discussion I have witnessed in any lecture course at the university. Furthermore, I developed an appreciation for the unique perspectives brought to the discussions by general members of the community. I feel that I derived a benefit that was more connected to wider Canadian society and that was unavailable in traditional courses at the university. This was important to me because in my program concentration there is no possibility of co-op work terms and I had therefore been lacking a connection with the wider community that teaches students how their studies are related to real-world issues.

The manner in which Professor Rancourt was dismissed also does not sit well with many people in the University of Ottawa community because a spirit of fairness and equity was not followed. Professor Rancourt filed no fewer than 24 formal grievances against the administration for a variety of unfounded actions taken against him. Fewer than one third of these many grievances have been resolved, languishing in the system for an unreasonable amount of time (some since 2007). As a lawyer, Mr. Rock, you are surely aware that the speed at which a process of justice is carried out is a crucial element of justice itself. Furthermore, the larger issue of academic freedom, which Dr. Rancourt has championed tirelessly, is still being investigated by an impartial body of three external professors who will be reporting on whether Dr. Rancourt’s academic freedom was indeed violated by the previous administration. Professor Rancourt was claiming the right of a professor to grade students in the best manner he saw fit. The university has dismissed him for his actions based on this claim, flying in the face of pedagogical research that has discredited the effectiveness of the grading system as a means of teaching students. Therefore, the dismissal of Professor Rancourt before the submission by an independent body of a report on whether his academic freedom as a professor was violated is an act that lacks legitimacy.

The Board of Governors of the university acts on the recommendations that you, Mr. Rock, as President, put on the table. By taking into account the above-mentioned processes of arbitration surrounding Dr. Rancourt’s case as well as the totality of his contributions to the university, I urge you to consider recommending to the Board the re-instatement of Denis Rancourt as a full professor of the university.

            I optimistically await your reply at your earliest convenience.

 Yours,

Wayne Sawtell

M.Sc. candidate in Biology

 


 

March 31, 2009

Allan Rock
President's Office
University of Ottawa
559 Cumberland Street
Ottawa, ON   K1N 6N5

Dear Mr. Rock,

Thank you for your form response. You neglected to delve into any details of the dispute  between Prof. Rancourt and the University in your reply,  and so my only recourse has been to observe the "due process" that the University has promised in its dealings with Prof. Rancourt.

It is clear that your administration's offer of mediation over an arbitrarily short period was disingenuous at best. Prof. Rancourt's acceptance of the mediation, only for the administration to pull out over "insufficient time" (due to a deadline of its own choosing) exposes the farce of your University's "due process" for what it is-- a bureaucratic front for a blatantly political process.

If the board votes for the dismissal of Prof. Rancourt on March 31, the perversion of justice will be clear and unequivocal for all to see. While you may have attempted to hide behind bureaucracy and claims of due process, the perversion of that process has stripped you of all credibility and moral authority.

People are watching this carefully, sir; many more, I'm sure, than in 2005, and many more than in 2008. They won't forget. For myself, I can only say that I'm deeply disgusted with both your conduct and that of the University. You continue to irrevocably tarnish the reputation of your school as a place of critical, enlightened and higher learning, and your own legacy as President. May history judge you as a small, stubborn figure, cast aside along the inexorable march of ideas.
 
Sincerely,
Nathan M(…)
 
2009/1/26 Office of the President < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >:
> Dear Mr. M(…):
>
> Thank you for your recent message.
>
> The relationship between the University and its faculty members, including
> Professor Rancourt, is governed by a collective agreement.
>
> In all of its dealings with Professor Rancourt, the University has complied
> strictly with the terms of that collective agreement, and will continue to
> do so.  Professor Rancourt has due process and opportunities for recourse
> through this collective agreement and his union.
>
> Kind regards,
>
> Allan Rock

 



March 30, 2009, 8:57 PM, email.

Subject: En défense de M. Rancourt

M. Rock,

Personnellement, après de multiples lectures sur le cas de M. Rancourt et sur la pédagogie, je trouve tout à fait ahurissant de voir la manière dont votre administration réagit face à la tentative de ce professeur titulaire de vraiment faire ce que l'université est supposée faire, c'est-à-dire promouvoir l'avancement des connaissances dans un dialogue critique. Sur ce, je me demande bien où est le dialogue dans ce cas.

Sachez que la manière dont vous prenez en charge ce dossier me répugne au plus haut point et a diminué fortement mon opinion que j'avais de l'Université d'Ottawa.

Sincèrement,

Éric Leduc, Étudiant de philosophie.



March 30, 2009, 8:47 AM, email.

Dear Mr. Allan Rock!

I am not sure if you are going to read my letter, but I am just trying to reason with you... It is very difficult to understand the current situation... which I think that blew out of control I and agree that now is more difficult, but not impossible, to put back on the rails...
 
I do not think that you want that Denis becomes the new “martyr” for academic freedom while you become the new “tyrant” who killed his career. Time could be a good helper... just get some extra time and sit with Denis as two civilized Homo sapiens to solve this nonsense... The uncontrolled emotions that have been playing on both sides lack any possible rational support... There is no real right and wrong in academic methods... just trial and error, within our VERY limited human nature...  Keep dogma for religions and try to enjoy new experiments, continue making mistakes always with the hope of improving the future...
 
My "grandmother’s advice": Sit with Denis and try to settle a peaceful solution (try to leave your “male chimpanzee’s genes” at home, as well as Denis should)...  Find a “working solution”, which will create a productive environment for the months to come... a solution that might even put Ottawa U on the lead of experimental teaching and evaluations... I am sure that you will find on the teachers and students a very rich source of ideas which will “evolve” in the years to come. GROW, EXPERIMENT, CREATE... The last word has not been said... We need to change, we have to find how!!! The future is still ahead!!! Learn from the mistakes of the past and ENJOY the future!!!
 
Best wishes!!!
                             Martha
 
Martha Ruben, M.D., Ph.D.



March 30, 2009, 12:11 AM, email.

Hello Alan Rock,

I have become aware of substantial complaints against the University of Ottawa with regard to the attempted dismissal of one of its tenured professors. As you know it is a very serious matter to look into the dismissal of a tenured professor. One of the primary reasons for granting tenure is to safeguard political activity.

The complaint states that proper procedure is not being followed in the matter. Would you please explain why this issue has risen?

Sincerely,
James Douglas
 


March 29, 2009, 11:28 PM, email.

Mr. Rock,

Today we find ourselves in the midst of a crushing economic crisis with wide-ranging effects on people's lives. Twenty-million Chinese agricultural workers have lost their jobs in the past three months alone. Who's to blame? Certainly there are some individuals which are worthy of being held accountable. But what institution in our society was tasked with the role of reflection and prevision? The university was. Our universities have failed us.

While business and economics students should have been following their own curiosities about how wealth was being accumulated and what that might mean, they were instead being tested incessantly on specifics and points of view that had already been incorporated into the economic and financial system.

And now here we are, the world is in the midst of reaping of the university's failure to reflect and meanwhile the university is busy breaking its own rules and purging its internal dissidents in order to avoid questioning itself. To avoid learning.

I know this letter to be true as a person who graduated with honours from an international economics program less prepared than the carpenter or the botanist to QUESTION an economic system that collapsed only two years later.

Our universities are failing us. Let Denis Rancourt teach.

Jesse Freeston

 


 

March 25, 2009; letter.

Allan Rock
Office of the President
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland
Ottawa ON K1N 6N5

Dear President Rock:

Thank you for your letter of 22 January in which you assured me that the University administration is complying with the terms of the collective agreement in its dealings with Professor Denis Rancourt. I was astounded to learn last week that the University administration is not observing the provision in the collective agreement that requires a formal teaching evaluation of a professor facing dismissal charges, to be conducted by the professor’s peers. Ir seems that no such formal evaluation of Prof. Rancourt’s teaching has been proposed or undertaken.

I should have thought that a formal teaching evaluation would be the obvious step to take in Prof. Rancourt’s case, since it would address the grounds for the dismissal charges, which, according to the administration’s statements, involve disagreements over his teaching methods. It would also be the fairest thing to do, since it would bring in input from other professors, and perhaps also specialists in pedagogical methodology.

I find this failure on the part of the University administration disturbing indeed, and not just because of the legal implications. Part of the University’s role is to model the ideals of our society, which include observing principles of justice, due process and fair dealings. If the University’s governing body can intentionally fail to meet these expectations, the value of the university as a whole is diminished.

I would greatly appreciate your explanation as to why no formal teaching evaluation of Prof. Rancourt has been undertaken. I also requested in my letter of 14 January that the Board of Governors hold a public meeting on this issue. Please let me know if any progress has been made on this request.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Margaret Stong Jensen
(community member)


From: zauerKraut <...>
Date: Feb 15, 2009 8:43 PM
Subject: Suspension and dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

From: Bernice Aye, former student and Leslie Kaiser, community
Date: Jan 17, 2009
Subject: Suspension and dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock, claude.cde

Dear President Allan Rock,

We are two friends who have attended and enjoyed many sessions of Cinema Politica (Cinema Academica). Denis Rancourt has spent a lot of his personal time organizing these events, so we were very surprised and disappointed to hear of his suspension and possible dismissal. What Rancourt has been doing should be the goal of every professor: to link the University with the community and help students take a second look at our society.

Rancourt brings different world views on topical issues and provides an opportunity for students and community members to engage in thought-provoking discussions. One of the lessons learnt through university education is analytical thinking. Rancourt's Cinema programs generate information and knowledge exchange between interested members of the community in both the pure sciences as well as the social sciences.  Isn't this expected of members of the University community? The goal and feedback from participants at Rancourt's classes and Cinema programs thus fall in line with the University's seektoknow promotional campaign.

With the goal of developing a link between students, the University and the impact of different policies around the world, we hope you will take a second look at the situation this courageous professor finds himself in and do everything you can to help him stay and work successfully within the University.

Sincerely,

Bernice Aye and Leslie Kaiser


From: geneviève chevrier
Date: Feb 4, 2009 7:30 AM
Subject: Lettre contre le renvoi de prof Rancourt
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mr. Alan Rock,
 
laissez-moi vous dire que votre décision de renvoyer le professeur Denis Rancourt est anti-démocratique.  Je suis extrêmement déçue et fâchée de la façon dont l'Université d'Ottawa gère ses conflits.  La réputation de cette université est en train de se ternir à travers le pays.
 
J'ai rencontré Denis Rancourt pour la première fois lors d'un voyage à l'extérieur du pays il y a 3 ans déjà.  C'était avant que je commence mon Bac en Sciences de l'activité physique.  Conservatrice et naïve par rapport au rôle que doit jouer l'Université dans la société, j'ai eu de nombreuses discussions très enrichissantes avec le prof Rancourt.  Il me faisait remarquer que les universités sont des grosses corporations, usines à diplômés, et que les étudiants n'étaient en fait que des employés obéissants en devenir.  Dans ce temps, il essayait de me faire comprendre des choses dont je n'étais pas encore consciente.  Par exemple, par rapport à l'apprentissage reçu au secondaire et au collégial.  Il me faisait remarquer que, pour apprendre, il fallait plus qu'être capable de recracher de la matière apprise par coeur.  Il fallait la comprendre en profondeur, être capable de l'expliquer selon le niveau de l'interlocuteur et avoir une vue d'ensemble du problème.  Bref, il essayait de me faire comprendre que je ne savais rien!  Ses paroles ont fait leur chemin, et maintenant je comprends très bien ce qu'il essayait de m'expliquer.  Il a fallu que soit dans l'eau du bain pour comprendre.
 
3 ans plus tard, je suis très déçue de mon Bac.  Le système de gradation A+, B, etc, a beaucoup de failles.  La matière retenue par coeur et recrachée sur une copie d'examen ne mène à rien.  Les examens à choix de réponses prouvent qu'une seule réponse est convenable alors que la situation d'ensemble n'est même pas tenue en compte.  Les profs refusant de répondre à des questions "parce qu'il faut voir le reste de la matière avant l'examen" me frustrent profondément.  Les intérêts des profs en recherche - et en gros billets, et en publications - sont généralement plus importants que l'enseignement, subjectif par ailleurs.  Je pourrais énumérer les problèmes de l'Université pendant longtemps.  Mais le point est que l'Université d'Ottawa traite ses étudiants comme des moins que rien, et cette lettre dénonce le sort réservé aux profs qui sortent de la "beaten path" et qui osent lever leur petit doigt pour défendre la liberté d'expression et académique.  Denis Rancourt est un homme intègre que je respecte énormément pour le courage de ses opinion ; il ose parler plus fort et dire ce que les gens n'osent pas dire.  Ce sont des gens comme lui qui brassent la cage et font avancer les débats.  Mais il faut avoir un esprit ouvert pour entendre de nouvelles opinions et adhérer à une idéologie qui ne suit pas le troupeau de moutons.  Je crois que Denis Rancourt a pleinement sa place ici et qu'il a le DROIT d'éduquer ses étudiants différement sans avoir peur de se faire jeter en prison ou de perdre son poste. 
 
Les étudiants comprennent de plus en plus ce qui se passe et se mobilisent contre les décisions arbitraires de l'Université d'Ottawa.  Shame on you!  Les voix s'élèveront et un jour, les étudiants prendront leur place sur le campus.  Les médias en parlent et les idées de Denis Rancourt sont de plus en plus écoutées.  Ce n'est pas du tout à votre avantage de le renvoyer.
 
Malheureusement pour vous, l'Université d'Ottawa perds une autre étudiante graduée - et de belles publications, beaucoup d'argent et une personne de moins dans les statisques des études graduées du magazine Macleans.  J'avais dans l'idée de faire une maîtrise ici, mais c'est drôle, j'irai disperser mon talent ailleurs.  Je respecte beaucoup mon superviseur mais malheureusement les politiques de l'Université d'Ottawa me font suer.
 
Bonne chance avec le départ du prof Rancourt.

Geneviève Chevrier


 

From: Nathalie Chapados
Date: Jan 29, 2009 8:24 PM
Subject: Contre le renvoi du professeur Denis Rancourt.
To: president
Cc: claude.cde

Cher M. Allan Rock,

Je désire me prononcer comme appuyant M. Rancourt afin qu'il ne soit ni
congédié ni sanctionné pour avoir fait usage de sa liberté d'expression.
Selon moi, il est un homme intègre qui a mis sur pied de nombreux projets
riches en savoir et en innovation.

"It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him
in possession of truth." - John Locke (1690).

Nathalie Chapados
[étudiante uOttawa]


From: Maggi Elgeziry
Date: Jan 28, 2009 3:32 PM
Subject: Re: Plan to Fire Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

I am writing to relay the great impact Denis Rancourt
has had on both students in the University of Ottawa
(U of O), and also on those that came to know him
professionally outside academia.  I am also writing to
urge the dismissal of the plan to fire Professor
Rancourt.

Denis offers people a chance to relay their best
attributes.  Students are offered ample ways to
demonstrate their passion of the subject matter hand
in hand with their ethics and moral standing.  Clearly
to have students ready to embrace the ‘real world’
both academia and ethics carve out the best member of
society and the mind ready to tackle the work force.
It is indisputable that academically speaking Denis is
one of the U of O’s best, what makes him shine is the
added extra step he has taken.  Taking the extra step
should never be frowned upon.

Denis’s Cinema Politica has helped those in the
community embrace U of O as a medium where freedom of
Expression is best portrayed.  It has also helped
students embark on educated debates amongst fellow
students as well as others beyond the campus setting.

Denis has helped me carry beyond the county a great
sense of admiration for an intellect on all levels.
He has made me marvel at the fluidity of expression,
academic hand in hand with human.   Without
compromising academia he has opened many doors, more
than he probably ever expected.

I protest the university’s plan to fire Professor
Rancourt and believe that the Board of Governors
should hold a public meeting on the Question.  I would
love the opportunity to vouch for the credibility of
Professor Rancourt in person, but unfortunately I’m
out of the country, but would come if I had to, it’s
the least that I could do.  It makes me proud to have
known Professor Rancourt.

Maggi (California)


From: Edelweiss D'Andrea
Date: Jan 29, 2009 7:34 AM
Subject: Please reinstate Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, dgr

Dear Mr. Rock,
 
I am upset to learn that Professor Denis Rancourt has been suspended, awaiting dismissal, and that he and graduate student Marc Kelly were arrested for trespassing last Friday, January 23.
 
I would have thought that, as a university, you encourage independent thought. I've been to several Cinema Politica/Academica movie nights, and enjoyed the thought-provoking movies and discussions. The movie nights encouraged students and members of the community to think critically about the enormous environmental and social problems we, as a society, are facing.
 
Also, according to its missions, vision and values statement, the University of Ottawa "places its students at the core of its educational mission." It does its utmost to help its "students...enhance their ability to question and analyze, and take full advantage of university life to become well-rounded, responsible citizens and leaders of our society." I can think of no other professor that performs fulfills these roles better than Professor Rancourt.
 
Further, as arbitrator Michel G. Picher determined that all the pedagogical initiatives that Professor Rancourt's implemented in 2005, including non-conventional grading as an integral part of the teaching method, were under the purview of a professor's academic freedom, his dismissal seems unjustified.
 
I understand that Professor Rancourt has one of the highest scientific impact factors in the Faculty of Science of the University of Ottawa, and is a grant recipient from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). As a researcher, he seems beyond reproach.
 
I hope that the University of Ottawa reinstates Professor Rancourt immediately. He embodies the values of putting students first and enhancing their ability to question, analyze and become well-rounded, responsible citizens and leaders of our society.
 
Respectfully yours,
Edelweiss D'Andrea
Member of the community


From: Paul Matthews
Date: Jan 26, 2009 11:16 PM
Subject: Suspension of Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock

I am appalled to hear that the University of Ottawa plans to fire one of the few amazing professors which the university has, this is ridiculous.  I am a graduate of the University of Ottawa and I had the privilege of taking a course with Dr. Rancourt, and I must say that he was he was one of the most inspiring and thought provoking professors I had. 

Currently I am enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education and I have found that the critical pedagogy to which Dr. Rancourt practices is not only highly regarded within the academic field of education but also considered in the best interests of students.  He was an inspiration for me to enter into the field of education!

The continued harassment of Dr. Rancourt is an embarrasment to the University of Ottawa and should immidiately be ceased.

Why has the University continually harassed Professor Rancourt and disregarded his right to Academic Freedom?

I would ask that you acknowledge reciept of the email.

Paul Matthews
[alumnus]

 


Allan Rock
President
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5

Professor Andre E. Lalonde,
Office of the Dean,
Faculty of Science,
University of Ottawa
140 Louis Pasteur St.
Ottawa, ON   K1N 6N5

January 26, 2009

Dear Sirs:

According to my birth certificate, my name is Thomas Joseph Kennedy. I am founder of the UsuryFree Network.

As an active usuryfree creative, I network within various communities where we teach the ‘truth’ about money creation within our modern system of usury-based, debt money.

I recently learned that: ‘Physics Professor Denis Rancourt has been suspended awaiting dismissal, barred from campus, removed from his graduate students, and escorted off Campus by university police.’ Upon learning this I was motivated to write this letter.

I attended Professor Denis Rancourt’s provocative Activism class (SCI 1101) from September 2006 until April 2007. In these weekly classes many timely and controversial topics were addressed. These topics obviously challenged the commonalities of university education - conformity and complacency.

Additionally, I attended the Cinema Politica events organized by Professor Denis Rancourt on Friday evenings during the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school terms. Each of the Cinema Politica events explored an eclectic range of issues that formal education neglects to teach.

One of the informative DVDs - ‘Money As Debt’ - was suggested by the UsuryFree Network and shown at Cinema Politica. ‘Money As Debt’ exposes the design flaw of usury for as the evil component that it is in our orthodox system of usury-based debt money. This sort of information is usually kept secret and not taught to students enrolled at the University of Ottawa.

Is the showing of such a DVD as ‘Money As Debt’ just one of many examples that exposes the deeper motive about why the University of Ottawa is moving ahead with the shameful action of dismissing Professor Denis Rancourt? Did Professor Rancourt break the rules and expose his students to an abundance of information that the University of Ottawa considers ‘not necessary to know’?

It is my humble observation that the trumped up controversy over grading as a method of evaluation is not the real reason that Professor Denis Rancourt is being fired?

It is more likely that the hierarchy at the University of Ottawa that is subtley controlled by the shadow power (global bankers) behind the veil determined that Professor Denis Rancourt did over-step his bounds and thereby breaking the unwritten rules of censorship when he dared to teach about ‘social and economic issues’ and ‘political topics’ beyond their (the global bankers) controlled curriculum.

While interacting with students who were formally enrolled in SCI 1101 I witnessed numerous comments admiring Professor Denis Rancourt’s engaging style of teaching. Permit me to quote these words from one student: ‘I learned more in Professor Rancourt’s Activism course than I did in any other course this year.’

Is the University of Ottawa a public institution or a private corporation? If the University of Ottawa is a public institution, then we-the-people ought to be consulted on this grave matter in an open and public meeting.

If the University of Ottawa is a private corporation then we-the-people ought to be informed of this so that we can have the option of withdrawing and withholding our tax dollars if and when we disagree with any decision made by the hierarchy of the University of Ottawa.

In summary, Professor Denis Rancourt is a renowned professor, known locally, nationally and internationally for his passionate and thought-provoking work as a researcher and educator.

I hereby request a response to the issues and questions raised in this letter.

Sincerely,

Thomas (Tom) Joseph Kennedy aka ‘Tommy UsuryFree’
Founder, The UsuryFree Network

c.c.   Professor Denis Rancourt, Physics Dept., University of Ottawa
       Nathalie DesDosiers, Secretary of the University, University of Ottawa
       Professor Claude Lamontagne, Psychology Department, University of Ottawa
       Students, University of Ottawa
       Court of Public Review


From: Neil
Date: Jan 24, 2009 5:18 PM
Subject: Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock, claude.cde

"We aspire to be, among universities, the essential reference on what Canada represents: a university that is an integral part of its community, open to the world, and distinguished by its search for excellence in research, its high-quality learning environment, its passion for knowledge and innovation, its leadership on language issues, and its openness to diversity. Every member of our institution will take part in our educational mission."
       -Vision 2010 vision statement

Denis Rancourt is the only professor I am aware of who held events which:
-were open to the community
-encouraged people to take part in their own education
-were innovative on many fronts
-were frequently bi and tri-lingual
-represented diverse populations in age, economic status, ethnicity, accessibility, and most importantly, viewpoint.
-embraced a real passion for knowledge, even should that knowledge be inconvenient or unpopular.

By a simple process of comparison, one can easily conclude:

Professor Denis Rancourt IS "the essential reference on what Canada represents."

....and you want him off the campus?!?!?!?


From: nathan m.
Date: Jan 23, 2009 4:35 PM
Subject: A protest against the pending dismissal of Prof. Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Ottawa, ON

January 23, 2009

Allan Rock
President's Office
University of Ottawa
559 Cumberland Street
Ottawa, ON   K1N 6N5

Dear Mr. Rock,

I am writing in response to the recent and disturbing news that Ottawa
University Professor Denis Rancourt has been suspended pending
dismissal.

I first came into contact with Prof. Rancourt during his Cinema
Politica film series in 2006. Hosted at the University of Ottawa, I
found the series refreshing and compelling, not only for the variety
of topics it broached, but primarily due to the intelligent and open
discussions that would follow each screening. With this series Prof.
Rancourt created an intellectually open and welcoming environment
where students and community members of all ages, backgrounds and
interests discussed and debated the content of these films. Access to
these differing viewpoints, and a critical, supportive environment
where they could be discussed was, for me, priceless, and a truly
educational experience.

I attended the series regularly over time, and kept abreast of the
challenges both it and Prof. Rancourt have faced from the University.
From this longer-term vantage, and by following both related media
coverage and documentation Rancourt himself has made available on his
dealings with the University, I have been witness to what can be
described at best as the institutional harassment of Prof. Rancourt,
his campus activities and pedagogy-- and at worst, politically
motivated campaigns in bad faith aiming to divest the University of
this decorated, innovative and challenging educator.

In regard to the latest dispute over Prof. Rancourt's grading
practices, I have perused the correspondence between Prof. Rancourt
and the Dean of the Faculty of Science, André Lalonde. Mr. Lalonde's
lack due process and apparent bad faith herein reveal a political, and
perhaps personal, campaign against Prof. Rancourt. If that abuse of
power wasn't troubling enough, Mr. Lalonde's main ruse of a critique
-- that Prof. Rancourt graded all students with all A+s -- does not
stand under scrutiny, as grading undoubtedly falls under the purview
of academic freedom. This view the University seems content to attack,
despite recent support by an arbitration ruling by Michel G. Picher.
The suggestion that a tenured professor like Prof. Rancourt should be
dismissed over this dispute is a gross abuse of institutional power
and a disproportionate response to Prof. Rancourt's activities. This,
of course, supports the optics of a politically motivated agenda
directed against Prof. Rancourt that is profoundly unflattering for
the University.

Mr. Lalonde continues to charge Prof. Rancourt with a disinterest in
the education of his students. I'd allege that the University, through
its documented actions against Prof. Rancourt and his campus
activities over the past few years, cares little for truly educating
its students; and is instead small-minded, corrupt and vindictive,
ultimately more concerned with its own financial viability and
reputation than any mandate of real education, innovation, and
critical thinking. In this way, the University -- and you, sir, at its
head -- fail both your students and society.

As a post-graduate living in Ottawa, I have been considering graduate
school for some time, with a plan to return in 2009. Naturally the
University of Ottawa was an option, as it is situated within the city
where I live and work.  The critical pedagogy and community activities
of Prof. Rancourt reflected well on the University. After such history
of harassment directed at an innovative and challenging thinker,
topped off by the pending dismissal of this Professor, who is tenured,
I will no longer consider your University for post-graduate study. I
will also ardently share in detail with my community (many of them
prospective graduate students) the University's conduct in this
matter, along with the grand hypocrisy of its mandate and Vision 2010.

If you wish to meet with me to discuss this situation more deeply, I'd
be happy to agree to a time convenient to us both. If you are
unavailable to the community at large, I request a public meeting of
the University governance to air this grievance, with all evidence
freely available and placed on the public record.

Sincerely,
Nathan M.


From: waldman, eithan
Date: Jan 23, 2009 12:48 PM
Subject: Dismissal of Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

I am writing to you in regards to information I have recently received
regarding Professor Denis Rancourt.  I completed my undergraduate at U of
Ottawa and, while I never took a course with Professor Rancourt, I
followed his 'saga' through articles in the Fulcrum and word of mouth on
campus.  I think your decision to fire Denise Rancourt, a tenured
professor as soon as possible is, wrongheaded and harms the reputation of
the University as well as general academic freedom.  From what I have
read, I more often than not disagree with some of the political stances
and campaigns initiated by Professor Rancourt.  That does not, however,
mean that he should lose his position.  The whole idea of tenure is to
allow professors to ask challenging questions and conduct 'fringe'
research that can better society, but that they may not be able to conduct
in a non-tenured position due to political reasons.  By attacking
Professor Rancourt in this manner, you are setting a precedent that will
harm the research quality of all other tenured professors at the
University, who will now as well be afraid of losing their jobs.

I strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision.  If Professor
Rancourt is fired, I will lose considerable pride in my Alma matar.

Sincerly,

Eitan Waldman
Currently MA Economics, Queen's University


From: jen cook
Date: Jan 22, 2009 9:49 PM
Subject:
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. President of the University of Ottawa
 
I think you are acting like a big bully. Education is about learning, growing, changing and challenging. I think the University's behavour towards Professor Denis Rancourt is rediculous and unacceptable. Do not fire him for expanding beyond your narrow ideas and limits of education.

jennifer cook
owner and operator of re-claimed
a company that transforms old materials into new creations
www.re-claimed.blogspot.com 


From: Corinne Allan
Date: Jan 22, 2009 1:59 PM
Subject: Professor Denis Rancourt
To: president
Cc: claude.cde
Attention: Allan Rock, President, University of Ottawa
 
Dear Mr. Rock:
 
Re: Proposed firing of Professor Denis Rancourt
 
As an elderly community member and social activist who has benefited from Professor Rancourt's Friday information sessions, I am embarrassed to think that a Canadian university, a place of "higher" learning in a society known for its individualism, would allow itself to be seen taking such a shockingly ham-fisted approach to an academic controversy.
 
The concepts Professor Rancourt puts forth are not new, nor his alone; he is a messenger, a local harbinger, and only barbarians have historically killed the messenger.
 
Surely there are some creative minds within the hallowed halls of Ottawa U., capable of transcending the primitive brain centre left over from our caveman days when banning and shunning  were the only tools imaginable against anyone who managed to rise above the imprinted notions of how to be.
 
But if universities really are just automaton factories, then why not admit it up front so that we can all cease to expect great things from them.
 
Sincerely,
Corinne Allan
Ottawa
http://www.yayacanada.com


From: Robert Crampton
Date: Jan 22, 2009 10:07 AM
Subject: Suspension and firing of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: t hustoft, Christina Pattison , claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

Regarding the attempt (as detailed below) to dismiss Professor Rancourt:

Can it be that the collection of great minds at the University of Ottawa cannot find another way through this situation than the ham-fisted, all or nothing approach of dismissal?

Can it be that there are no more delicate tools at the disposal of the university than the hammer?

If this dismissal is allowed to proceed it is a sad statement on the University and on the worth of higher learning. Of how much value is a degree from Ottawa U. if its management hasn't the capacity to account for, accomodate and even nurture new approaches?

If the venerable U of O cannot think of a win-win way to resolve an issue between a beloved, caring, award-winning professor and the demands of a traditional education, then what hope is there for the resolution of the bus strike?

How disappointing.

Thank you in advance for your response.

Yours in disbelief,
Robert Crampton


From: Ben Saifer
Date: Jan 22, 2009 1:16 AM
Subject: Confusion over Prof. Rancourt's dismissal
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear President Rock,

I have recently been informed that Professor Denis Rancourt has been banned from the University of Ottawa and is slated for dismissal. I urge you to reconsider your position.

This year, I began my Masters degree at Carleton University, and I would not be in this position if it were not for Professor Rancourt. Having spent a number of years outside of the academy after my undergraduate degree, the idea of re-entering university was not a particularly inspiring thought. Nonetheless, meeting Professor Rancourt in late 2007 was a catalytic experience. From the way in which he facilitated the Cinema Academica film series, to engaging discussions with him about critical pedagogy, Professor Rancourt challenged, provoked, and ultimately inspired me about the transformative potential of education.

While Professor Rancourt's pedagogical methods differ from the norm, I can ensure that you that in this case, "different" should not be equated with inferior. On the contrary, Professor Rancourt's pedagogy seems to fall in line with the values of the University of Ottawa's Vision 2010 Statement, specifically those which center on community engagement, social responsibility, and a student-centered approach. It is rare that one finds a professor who takes their work so seriously and with such honest self-reflection. Consequently, I am shocked by the fact that the University of Ottawa administration would decide to dismiss Professor Rancourt (a tenured professor) due to the way in which he grades his students. I must admit that this stated reason for dismissal does not seem to add up and points to political censorship, a characteristic certainly not befitting of "Canada's University."

I urge you to reconsider the dismissal of Professor Rancourt. His presence at the University of Ottawa ensured that the values embodied in your Vision 2010 statement were not empty platitudes, as he made them come to life. His dismissal, on the other hand, makes a mockery of these dynamic values, and instead paints the University of Ottawa as an authoritarian institution, afraid of transparency and creativity.

If you are intent on upholding the dismissal of Professor Rancourt, I would be interested in knowing what your rationale is. I would happy to discuss this matter further over the phone or by email. 

Sincerely,
Ben Saifer


From: julia adam
Date: Jan 21, 2009 10:07 PM
Subject: Denis Rancourt - proposed dismissal
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

I am shocked and nearly lost for words as I write this.  If you allow Professor Denis Rancourt to be barred from teaching and researching at the University of Ottawa, you will be simultaneously making a public statement that you do not fully support the concept of education and critical thinking. 

I am a community member and recent university graduate that began attending the Cinema Politica evenings early last year.  During my years at university, I often dreamed of a time when it would be common for students and community members to exchange critical reflections and engage in intrinsically valued education together on campus.  It is important and it is essential.  Denis Rancourt is fostering the growth of this reality.  One that will help us all in the efforts to shape a more critical and, therefore, harmonious future.

Do not dismiss Denis Rancourt.  It would be a mistake of incomprehensible measure, and I am certain that you and other university administrators would regret such a decision in the future.  Denis Rancourt is offering too much to education, research, and our community to not offer him your full support.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Julia Adam


From: Amy Teper
Date: Jan 21, 2009 8:49 PM
Subject: Denis Rancourt's dismissal
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

January 21, 2009

Mr. Allan Rock,

Your dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt is infuriating. Professor
Rancourt is asking the academic community to question the way students are
traditionally educated and the research that is being produced in this
institution. This debate needs to happen. And it is an outrage that is not
currently happening considering university research is largely publicly
funded and university graduates occupy the most elite and influential
positions within our society.

Your treatment of Professor Rancourt has highlighted to me your objectives
for this university. It has become clear in my mind that you treat this
university as nothing more than a corporate entity – a diploma mill –
sardining as many students as possible into large auditoriums to be talked
TO at a frustrating speed for 1 to 3 hours at a time. The continuous
stream of lecture information compounded with endless facts and figures
compiled into textbook format busies the students enough to be out of the
hair of the professors who are scrambling to write yet another paper that
will no doubt be published in a high end journal viewed by none other than
the privileged academic community. These papers will eventually end up in
another pricey university text book. And the race continues.

Mr. Rock, university is considered a place of higher learning and the
pride of this institution rests on its ability to educate. In my mind this
institution fails in providing students with true education. If the
priority of Ottawa University were to educate, class sizes would be
smaller, time spent with professors would be greater, and true questioning
would happen. This is not the case, not because it is impossible but
because I am coming to learn that this is not the priority of this
institution. I am coming to learn that your interests are corporate, and
this reverberates profoundly throughout the institution.

Your actions have demonstrated to me how you handle dissenting opinion –
by using your power and privilege to silence it. I ask of you to make this
debate public. If you are confident that the methods of teaching and the
choice of research in this university reflects the greatest public
interest you should be able to speak to this without feeling threatened by
Professor Rancourt. Your reactionary approach to dealing with Denis
Rancourt’s opinions indicates to me that you are not able to substantiate
these claims. Denis Rancourt speaks openly about his views and how he
substantiates them. He publishes every correspondence that he has with
administration. I would expect, and ask for a similar level of
transparency from you and your institution.

I would like to encourage you to reflect upon your very powerful position
as President of ‘Canada’s University’ and remind you that you are in
service to ALL Canadians.

I look forward to hearing your response and would gladly assist in the
facilitation of a formal debate.

With regards,

Amy Teper
MSc Candidate


From: David Brister , Sherri Duncan, Murray Harbour
Date: Jan 21, 2009 3:13 PM
Subject: Regarding Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

January 21, 2009

Dear President Rock,

Even though we no longer live in Ottawa, we have continued to follow the conflict between The University of Ottawa and Professor Rancourt. We were completely shocked upon reading recently that he was removed from the University by police officers and is now being threatened with dismissal. The reason for dismissal, the A+ grades given to all students in one of his courses, as was expressed in the e-mail we received, seems completely ludicrous. We feel this speaks more to the University's unwillingness to be open and respond to a variety of ideas regarding pedagogy, than it does to any real or perceived shortcomings of Professor Rancourt's teaching methods.

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend Professor Rancourt's Activism Course in 2005 as members of the public. Not only did we find the course extremely informative, we found the engagement shown by the students and interaction between students and community members to be an extremely positive experience. As retired educators ourselves, we appreciated the lengths to which Dr.  Rancourt was going to make his course meaningful to his students. These students were being graded on a Pass/Fail system which to what we were able to observe, seemed to motivate and encourage the students.

This Pass/Fail system seemed to be one of a number of things the university sought to criticize Professor Rancourt for and led the University to try and cancel the course. The students and community rallied around the course and Professor Rancourt and the course was not only not cancelled, but it is our understanding that it became a regular course after going through a series of necessary steps.

As a result of attending that course we also attended the Cinema Politica films on Friday night that Professor Rancourt organized. This became another forum for great discussion involving students and community members. But, this educational forum organized by Professor Rancourt also seems to threaten some at the University of Ottawa and the university attempted to close it down too.

We realize that the things to which we refer occurred before you came to the University of Ottawa. however, we are sure you are well aware of them.  We bring up this past history as illustration of what appears to be an ongoing effort on the part of the University of Ottawa to discredit Professor Rancourt.

Having spent our careers in the education system we realize the pressures that can sometimes come to bear on teachers and administrators to do the 'common, easy' thing. This does tend to make things flow more smoothly. However, it is our experience that it is the teachers and administrators who are willing to push the boundaries that actually make the most difference to, and provide the best learning environment for students.

From our observations and understanding, this is exactly what Professor Rancourt has tried to do. It is our belief that rather than threatening a professor who dares to threaten the status quo, the University of Ottawa would do much better to engage Professor Rancourt in dialogue and look at the merits of his ideas. Is not the function of the university to promote thinking, learning and individual advancement, not be stuck in some predetermined comfortable rut?

We would appreciate a response and would be interested in hearing your explanation of this conflict  between Professor Rancourt and the University of Ottawa.

Yours in education,
Sherri Duncan
David Brister
Murray Harbour
Prince Edward Island


From: Elizabeth MacKay
Date: Jan 21, 2009 12:29 PM
Subject: Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

President Rock,

I am writing to you as someone who will soon be an alumna of this
institution and as someone who cares about my education for more than just
the jobs it can get me. I am very concerned about the process that has
been undertaken to fire Denis Rancourt and I hope you will hear what I
have to say.

Professor Denis Rancourt has been an essential part of my experience at
this university, and he has been so for many of my collegues. It is rare
to find a professor who cares so genuinely about teaching. Many professors
teach their course material to the best of their ability as part of their
job, but it is not their reason for being here. Professor Rancourt cares
about not only conveying material, but about making students think
critically, explore new ideas, take ownership of their own learning
process and defend their ideas. All of these things are utterly essential
to me, as a student and as a person, and it has been amazing for me to
have been able to learn from a professor who challenges me in all these
ways. Professor Rancourt has been responsible single-handedly for more
student engagement in a wide variety of areas than anything that I have
seen the university administration do. He has been empowering students
here for several years, and it was my hope that future students would be
able to experience this as I have. He is very important to this campus.

It is completely ridiculous to me that a professor who is so beneficial to
students and to the university community should be removed. What Professor
Rancourt has been doing is in line with what universities are supposed to
stand for. If the University of Ottawa is uncomfortable with someone who
fosters independent, critical, cross-disciplinary thought, there is a
serious problem with this university. None of the reasons that I have
heard for his dismissal constitute in my mind a basis on which to deprive
students and community members of such an excellent opportunity to learn.
Cost to the students of this university aside, firing Professor Rancourt
is also a direct attack on his academic freedoms which is completely
unacceptable.

I know I am not alone in expressing my extreme displeasure with this
situation, and I hope that you will listen to me and to the many others
who have written and spoken to you. We need Denis here. We are willing to
meet with you and discuss this so that the situation can be resolved and
Professor Rancourt can return to being one of the greatest assets to
students on this campus. Please respond to our requests.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth MacKay
5th year, B.Sc.Soc. spécialisé en développement international et
mondialisation


From: mike Gogu
Date: Jan 20, 2009 7:34 PM
Subject: RE: Denis Rancourt's proposed dismissal
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

To Allan Rock, and others who may be reading this who
have concern over the proceedings to dismiss Denis
Rancourt from professorship at Ottawa University,

I have perhaps known Denis Rancourt for a short time
in my life, only since the Activism Course in which I
partcipated in the fall of 2006.

I got no piece of paper or grades from participating
in that course: but I did get an education, a great
deal of learning, and tools that will, and have,
helped me with the rest of my life: to examine what I
believe, how I am - or am not - living up to those
beliefs (cognitive dissonance - that dis-ease of being
something other than that which we tell ourselves we
are... like in Joseph Conrad's novel 'Lord Jim'
perhaps), to open my mind to the truth, to open my
heart to the suffering of others around me, to learn
to reach out in solidarity - and perhaps, most of all
-best of all- learn to try and find my voice again.
To speak my truth that has been silenced by a blanket
of expectations, self-defeating 'norms', and a
oommitment to mediocrity that one lives with in order
to 'not get shot down.'

I found courage - the courage to fight - not with
fists, but this time, with something more powerful -
with words, with reason and truth, with my heart -
with love for the people I saw as my enemies once.
Everyone's journey is different, what we learned and
took out of things - I don't suggest everyone will
have gotten the same experience as me, but what this
course, and Denis in general, has aimed to do, I
believe - is give people the freedom to explore, to
truly grow - ahd helped facilitate this by making a
place where this could happen... bringing people from
far flung parts of the world, deeply enmeshed in
issues of deep social and spiritual merit to the world
today - right to our doorstep in Ottawa.  Not having
to be rich, to jetset about the world and find all
these experiences for myself, that so many people
could freely experience this who otherwise might not
have... and that relationships and spin-off movements
- like the canadian youth climate coalition, of which
I had been a part, for a time - gave meaning to
people's lives, gave them a way to contribute beyond
the menial and mundane and purely personal and selfish
in our lives - to give back, and be rewarded by seeing
the positive change we could make in the world.

It is easy to 'project' all the 'wrongness' on
another, when someone 'provokes' conflict, and we
reactively try and 'reassert' stability in our lives -
starting with our fundamental - often unquestioned -
beliefs and values in our lives, from which the basis
of all our actions comes.  There is fear of much shame
and regret - were we to find we erred in our judgments
so severely, that our beliefs are wrong, and that the
life we have committed, worked for, the things we have
in our life - may not be there justly, deservedly so.
But redemption is thrice blessed: that we correct a
wrong for its own sake; that we do it for ourselves,
to once again be the greatness each of us knows we can
be, deep down -; and thirdly, knowing finally, deeply,
having been lost, but finding courage to face our
fears, what was lost was our way, not our inner
goodness, and all that was left for us to do, was set
the first foot on the path of righteousness again, and
there in front of us again is the blazing light of
truth guiding our way, once more.

I'm saying it is difficult to consider our own
actions, and values and beliefs, when confronted with
someone who brazenly defies their truth, and in so
doing, we will perhaps, instinctively, defend that
status quo, in the world and our own lives: but what
we may learn, by one who shares, and risks, so much,
to reflect our truth back to ourselves, withouth
shying away, is that very behaviour itself - that we
fight, without even knowing what we are fighting for -
that we just want to 'win', whatever that means, in
the personal conflict - even if that means, in the
end, not 'winning' at what truly matters.  True
friends will pause at letting their friend do this;
but are more gentle and patient; but we must thank our
enemies, and those with integrity and honesty the more
so, for telling us those harsh truths our casual
friends dare not for fear of breaking that tenuous
relationship.

I love to argue with Denis.  We disagree on a lot of
things.  He has been one of my greatest teachers, and
I believe that Ottawa University needs him dearly; and
the world even more so: if you don't realize what you
have, I fear the world may snap him up, and a great
opportunity for Ottawa University - Canada's
University? - may be lost.

He is not the only great teacher Ottawa University
has, I'm sure - but he is one who has a way of
bringing out the greatness in others - and that is not
something to be tossed away lightly.

I implore you to reconsider your actions: for Denis,
for the university, for yourself, and for a world that
needs far more people like Denis, willing to push the
limits of propriety to save society by returning to it
dignity, and integrity... and agency.
For everyone.  We are all in this together, and
everyone should have a say, or the right to be heard.

Thank you for your time.

Michael Goguen 


From: stephane laurence-pressault
Date: Jan 20, 2009 6:39 PM
Subject: Suspension and Firing of Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Hello Mr. Rock,

I am a third year Philosophy and Theater student and I have some major
concerns about the discussion surrounding the recent events with Mr.
Rancourt's academic actions. When I arrived at the University of
Ottawa, I felt, like many students, that I was lacking some sort of
identity. I needed to be stimulated intellectually about major issues
concerning my environment. Luckily, Mr. Rancourt had his Science and
Society class that allowed me and many students to question and act
upon major issues. I was able to meet many students who believe that
education is given, not bought and we're willing to fight for it.

Now that I've heard these speculations on Mr. Rancourt's firing, I am
very disappointed with this institution. Many students think that
universities are about grading instead of education. Mr. Rancourt was
able to convince his students to participate, which is something that
lacks in most of my classes, and to simply discuss the issues in his
classes. By doing so, students are able to gain much more experience
than they could by simply over-studying the textbooks. We live in a
time with apathetic youth and Mr. Rancourt understands that we must
change this.

There has seldom been professors who have influenced me to act upon my
ideas. Denis Rancourt was one of them. University should create
change. Firing Mr. Rancourt would only regress that.

Thank you for your time,

Stephane Laurence-Pressault


From: Dax D'Orazio
Date: Jan 20, 2009 5:50 PM
Subject: Regarding Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Mr. Allan Rock:

Upon hearing of the latest evolution in Denis Rancourt's ongoing battle with the University of Ottawa I was deeply disheartened. As a Carleton student, regular attendee of the popular Cinema Politica series and co-organizer of the Carleton Cinema Politica, I have come to admire professor Rancourt's academic fortitude and commitment to enhancing the learning environments he has dedicated much of his academic career to.

Professor Rancourt's weekly Cinema Politica film series was the catalyst for many of my recent endeavours. Most notable is my collaboration with both the Sault Ste. Marie Cinema Politica (Algoma University) and the Carleton (University) Cinema Politica. Rancourt's film series is a great supplement to my studies at Carleton and one of the rare opportunities critical and genuine discussion; often dealing with topics that are absent from public discourse. The series has been successful in promoting numerous grassroots initiatives and building many bridges between diverse groups of people and organizations. It was these positive aspects that inspired me to bring the Cinema Politica environment to two other universities.

It seems unconscionable that a university would forcefully remove a professor from his duties. What is even more disturbing is the lack of open and transparent discourse on the subject of Professor Rancourt's pedagogical methods. Rather than evaluate his criticism and academic freedom in a professional manner, it appears as though he must be discarded with the sentiment that criticism is tantamount to blasphemy within the administration. This being said I feel obligated to mention that I disagree with Professor Rancourt on a number of issues, but I feel the university has chosen a reactionary, heavy handed approach that has been counterproductive. Most importantly, it seems hypocritical to advertise the University of Ottawa brand as an institution of free thinking, open discourse and enlightenment when its own membership is unable to dissent.

I believe your administration ought to reevaluate the decision to dismiss Professor Rancourt. I and many others have pursued a post-secondary education with the perhaps naïve notion that university is a mode for speaking truth to power. It is my hope that your administration will consider the copious and beneficial contributions to the community and university environment that Professor Rancourt has made and, with any fairness, will make in the future.

Best,

Dax D'Orazio
Carleton Student and Carleton Cinema Politica Co-Organizer


From: Harun Cicek
Date: Jan 20, 2009 4:54 PM
Subject: protesting the suspension of Dr. Rancourt.
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Allan Rock,

I am a past University of Student, currently pursuing my graduate degree
in University of Manitoba. I am shocked and dismayed by the news regarding
Prof. Denis Rancourt's suspension from his position and his possible
firing. This is clearly restricting the freedom of speech and difference
of opinions. Through this oppressive act, U of O brings itself to the
lowest level of academic freedom and quality. You,Mr. Rock, obviously,
cannot tolerate different views, so mine as well why dont you go to some
country where there is no democracy and ruled by a dictator. You dont
deserve your position as the head of an free, public, academic
institution.
Dr. Rancourt's suspension must be lifted and he should be able to practice
his freedom in the U of O without any abuse and intimidation.

Sincerely,
Harun Cicek


From: Pantea Jafari
Date: Jan 19, 2009 10:11 AM
Subject: Denis Rancourt's suspension
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

Up until recently I have been very proud of being a student at the University of Ottawa.  I felt privileged to be part of an institution with a commitment to diversity and innovative education.  I was especially pleased with progressive professors like Mr. Rancourt who really brought the classroom to life and showed us how to really relate the things we learn and hear about to our everyday lives- to see how social theories play out in our everyday realities.

I was therefore an eager member of the Cinema Politica series and sincerely looked forward to the Friday night films and the open-minded discussions that followed.  Like many attendees, I was not officially enrolled in the class nor stood to gain any academic credit for being there.  Even still, many of us enthusiastically gave up our Friday nights to engage in this unique experience where we were all students and teachers alike. I often heard myself telling my friends in Toronto and Montreal about this wonderful forum of candid debate on both sides of the spectrum and encouraged them to seek out such opportunities in their own schools.

It is therefore with great sadness and disappointment that I have been following the development of the universities relationship with Denis.  I urge you to reconsider your position in suspending Mr. Rancourt and allegedly taking steps towards his dismissal.  I recognize that the university feels Mr. Rancourt has pushed too far beyond the boundaries of acceptability in this teaching methods and content, but in doing the very things this university has shunned him for, he has been a great teacher and mentor to many students and community members.  From the perspective of those who have had the privilege to be instructed by or work with Mr. Rancourt, he has been a phenomenal asset to the University of Ottawa.  From the perspective of such individuals, including myself, you should be trying to attract more professors like him rather then pushing them out of the margins.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter and await the hopefully good news of a turn-around in the proceedings against Mr. Rancourt.

Sincere Regards,

Pantea Jafari


From: Rehana Tejpar
Date: Jan 20, 2009 8:48 AM
Subject: Letter to reconsider dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, Denis Rancourt

Allan Rock
President's Office
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland Street
Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5
 
Dear Mr. Allan Rock,
 
            As an alumni of the University of Ottawa and a former student of Denis Rancourt, I am appalled and extremely sad about the University's decision to dismiss this remarkable educator.  Denis Rancourt has not only been a fantastic professor, but a mentor, a friend and someone who was able to connect the classroom with the outside world, in a way that few teachers have.
 
            I ask you Mr. Rock, what does education mean to you?  What are the aims of sending your children to university?  Education is not merely the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. Authentic, meaningful education is not merely acquiring knowledge, but giving people the opportunity to reflect AND act – to apply one's knowledge into practical scenarios, into the real world – this is what Paulo Freire, one of the most renowned educators would call praxis.  The meeting of reflection and action, for neither of them in isolation hold any value. 
 
            As a student at the University of Ottawa in political science, I felt deeply that when handling social issues, one cannot come close to understanding fundamental concepts and theories without applying them to life.  Reading and taking notes on what so and so said, without having real life experiences is pointless. And the University of Ottawa should strive to be above this, to be a learning space where learners are given more than what textbooks can provide, are given solid real-life experience and exposure to support theories learnt, and to help form a new generation of open-minded, reflective, risk-takers.  This is holistic education, Sir.  As the President of "Canada's University" I would expect you to strive for this.
 
            Denis Rancourt provided learners an environment to explore a range of social issues while always creating connections to the environment in which we live.  His Science and Society course was by far one of the most memorable courses I've taken in my life, and Cinema Politica created a space for powerful, intellectual discussion, which is often not found in many classrooms.  As a teacher currently in Kenya working both within and outside the education system, I see the value of this more and more daily.
 
            I urge you to reconsider your decision to dismiss Mr. Rancourt, and consider what makes an education meaningful for a person's life. Beyond the A, B, or C grade, what knowledge does one acquire in school which they will carry with them forever?  Is it the A+?
 
Sincerely,
Rehana Tejpar


From: David Moscrop
Date: Jan 20, 2009 7:06 AM
Subject: In Support of Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, dgr, editor-thefulcrum.ca, news-thefulcrum.ca, president-sfuo.ca

Dear President Rock and all of those included in this e-mail,

My name is David Moscrop, and I am a former honours and master's student at the University of Ottawa, who graduated in 2008.  I am also a former arts and culture editor of The Fulcrum, Vice-President External of the Political Studies Student Association, and employee of the Student Federation.

I spent my five years at the U of O engaged both in the academic and political worlds and have worked with a number of leaders -- students, faculty, administrative -- and count among them  Denis Rancourt. Having taken the former activism class with Denis, organized projects with him, debated him (and disagreed with him), I was saddened and concerned to hear of the ongoing attempt to dimiss him.

I have included in this email a .doc and a .pdf version (in case of difficulty accessing the content) of a letter to you, President Rock, that I have written in support of him -- an open letter which I wish to be made as publicly available as any interested outlet would see fit.

In it I have tried to express the broader issues brought up by this case, without turning to invective and ad hominems. I hope that you, President Rock, and the rest of those included in this e-mail will read it, give its content some consideration, and ultimately join the effort to reject this attempt to dismiss Dr. Rancourt.

Best regards,
David Moscrop
BSocSc, University of Ottawa, 2007
MA, University of Ottawa, 2008

The Rancourt Affair: A Question of Academic Freedom

But what more oft in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude
Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty.
- Milton

To President Allan Rock, the university community, and to all those concerned with academic freedom: 

In a society obsessed with calculation, measurement, order, tracking, and the drive to master all and eliminate anything that seems to be in the way of its “progress,” it is not only refreshing, but essential that we encounter those who challenge our common trajectory with an alternative, or who question its aims. Denis Rancourt's pedagogical philosophy is such an alternative. We can discuss his method, and we can debate it – in fact, just like with any other method, we should do both. His method is not a panacea for all the troubles facing the academic world; it is problematic at several points. However, this could be said about any method, and it may well be that, ultimately, the best education is an eclectic education made up of several styles which flow in and out of one another while challenging each other. But that's not the issue at hand.

Dr. Rancourt is a pain in the ass. He is also a respected scholar, a committed teacher, and a passionate political activist with whom we may often agree with exuberance or disagree with vehemently – even viscerally. I have found myself doing both; at times I sided (privately) with the university on certain issues pertaining to the ongoing Rancourt Affair; at times I sided (privately) with Dr. Rancourt. At this point, however, I believe that it is important for critical minds who value their freedom to lend speech and pen to thought and concern. It is time to move beyond the particular issues at hand and to publicly address the broader current which carries this case.

The issue is, I believe, fundamentally one of academic freedom and the right to challenge norms, to foment critical resistance to power, and to inspire individuals and groups to ask questions and refuse to simply follow what they are told to do because they are told do so. In this regard Dr. Rancourt is, ultimately, asserting his right to this academic (and broader) freedom, having taken the inherent implications of this freedom to its logical conclusion both as a critic of the university and of society at large. The freedom he has pursued is a freedom that exists most importantly in its exercise. By behaving the way that he has Dr. Rancourt has also, de facto, helped to preserve the very freedom which protects us all.

Admittedly, all of this can be tiring. There seems to be a spotlight following Dr. Rancourt that shines into many dark corners where we may seek rest from interrogation. However, Dr. Rancourt's interrogations are fundamentally legitimate and necessary, and they apply to a public realm protected by individual (and academic) freedom. Our indolence and desire for a dark sleep – the university’s, society's, our own – is no excuse for attempting to extinguish the light of one of our critics. We must not forget that academic freedom, and the broader category of freedom of thought and speech from which it descends, are supposed to be tiring. Freedom implies difference and difference implies challenge as a variety of ways of talking, thinking, grading, eating, loving, and writing (to name a few from an infinite list) mix with, bump into, scrape, challenge, inform, refute, and explore one another in the course of our day-to-day lives.

Ultimately, supporting Denis Rancourt is about supporting individual and academic freedom. I support him and those freedoms for two broad reasons: for one, it is right to support the freedom of the individual to pursue critical thought and the logical implications which flow from it – a freedom protected by the most fundamental and essential laws of our country; and I also support him because in doing so I am also protecting myself and any other person who holds sacrosanct their own freedom. We must all be connected in the common pursuit to extend the boundaries of possibility which demarcate the frontiers of our individual and collective ways of living. A free person, university, or society should expect and accept no less.

Sincerely,

David Moscrop
University of Ottawa,
M.A., Political Science, 2008


From: sheila muxlow
Date: Jan 19, 2009 8:56 PM
Subject: Suspension and Dismal of Dr. Denis Rancourt
To: president
Cc: claude.cde, julie.cafley, gmalette, pierre.mercier

Dear Mr Rock,
 
I am writing you to voice my concern about the recent suspension and dismissal of Dr. Denis Rancourt from the University of Ottawa.
 
I am a 2007 graduate from the University of Ottawa in the International Development and Globalization Studies program and now work as a regional organizer for a prominent Canadian NGO. During my time at the university Dr. Rancourt was very much an alma mater in the development of my education. Dr. Rancourt provided me with critical insight into numerous issues of social and environmental justice and encouraged me to think critically about my future in development work and how I wanted to engage with the world as it is.
 
To be honest he was one of a few professors who truly made me feel like my time at the University of Ottawa was worthwhile. He posed a challenge to all his students to question not only their present situations of privilege and consumption, but the path of their future as well. In addressing controversial issues, he led by example; not expecting his actions to be mimicked or revered, but rather to serve as an inspiration that challenging dominant social norms is possible. He empowered his students to choose for themselves how they wanted to engage in society by offering them alternative models of information to compare to the common information of the mainstream.
 
Mr. Rock, I implore you to rethink the suspension and dismissal of Dr. Rancourt. Instead, I encourage you to appreciate him as the asset he is to the University of Ottawa. In our recent times of social, environmental and economic unrest, teachers like him are more and more necessary to ensure that future generations will grow up to think critically and creatively on how to overcome the problems of today and tomorrow.
 
Sincerely,
Sheila Muxlow
Prairie Regional Organizer
Council of Canadians


From: Luc-Anne Salm-Walker
Date: Jan 19, 2009 3:15 PM
Subject: in support of true education
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear President Alan Rock,

How is it possible that you see Dr. Denis Rancourt as a threat to education? Dr. Denis Rancourt is demonstrating his democratic right to promote positive, constructive change in a world sorely in need of constructive change. What is needed in the administration right now, as I see it, is more vision; taking in a larger picture than the university is currently willing to accept.

 What this rebellion on Dr. Rancourt's part is about is a publicly allied response to the administration's unwillingness to allow Dr. Rancourt to experiment with the climate of student motivation. His motive, as all professors who deserve to bear that title is/was to enlarge, enliven and invigorate the classroom's learning and he had spectacular classroom results-students love to come to his classes. He's a very gifted teacher who has done tons more good than harm and his only sin was to improve on his record-to initiate the natural willingness to question widely held beliefs and practices for the sake of the integrity of higher education; unsullied, un-stymied by the dull acceptance and rote learning that really doesn't create new ideas for a competitive Canada of the 21st century. Dr.Rancourt's firm belief in the essential integrity of the University of Ottawa, inspired him to create the change sorely needed in universities today from within the present structure; Ottawa U could be all the richer for it-a leading edge university.
Instead , this spectacle of humiliation imposed on a worthy man, a wonderful teacher, a thinker in his own right who inspires others to think, is a total mockery of your call to be a seedbed for new ideas as universities ought to be. This terrible mistake has got to be corrected. We need  Dr. Rancourt in Canada's university. We need a public meeting of the Board of Governors to discuss this matter. Thank you for listening.

                        Sincerely,
Luc-Anne Salm Walker, a concerned citizen of Ottawa

Ottawa, Ontario


M. Allan Rock

Recteur de l'Université d'Ottawa

Objet: Congédiement imminent du professeur Denis Rancourt

Monsieur le recteur,

Ayant terminé avec succès toutes les exigences de mon deuxième et dernier
programme d'études à l'Université d'Ottawa, je peux aujourd'hui m'exprimer
librement sur la décision de l'Université de suspendre, et de recommander le
congédiement, du professeur de physique Denis Rancourt.

Déjà, des dizaines d'étudiant.e.s, d'ancien.ne.s et de membres de la
communauté, sans oublier le dernier éditorial de La Rotonde, se sont opposés
à cette décision qui, selon toute apparence, était démesurée et injustifiée.
Puisque la liberté universitaire est essentielle à la vitalité de nos
institutions, il est normal et souhaitable que le public réagisse fortement
lorsqu'un professeur très critique de son institution soit congédié par
l'institution elle-même.

Ces préoccupations par rapport à la liberté universitaire au département de
physique de l'Université d'Ottawa sont encore plus légitimes à la lumière
d'un incident survenu il y a près de dix ans, lorsque le professeur Paul
Marmet (récipiendaire de l'Ordre du Canada, décédé en 2005) avait été
expulsé de ce même département. Le Pr. Marmet affirmait que le directeur du
département de physique d'alors, Bela Joos (qui occupe encore cette fonction
aujourd'hui), lui aurait dit que "ton problème, c'est que tu remets en
question les principes de base de la physique [moderne]". J'ai toujours cru
que la science était basée sur le questionnement et le doute, pas sur un
credo ou un dogme.

Toutefois, je ne vous écris pas pour discuter dans l'abstrait de liberté
universitaire, mais plutôt pour témoigner de mon expérience au département
de physique de l'Université d'Ottawa, où j'ai fait mon baccalauréat avant
d'y compléter une maîtrise sous la supervision de Denis Rancourt. Comme
étudiant, cette expérience m'a donné une connaissance privilégiée du
fonctionnement du département de physique, de l'actualité universitaire des
cinq dernières années, des initiatives pédagogiques du professeur Rancourt
et des réactions de l'administration à ces initiatives. J'ai été membre
actif d'un journal étudiant pendant trois ans et d'une association étudiante
pendant deux ans. J'ai assisté à plusieurs cours du professeur Denis
Rancourt tels que "SCI1101: Science in society"; j'ai assisté à presque tous
les comités qui ont participé à l'approbation et par la suite à la
"disparition" de ce même cours. J'ai été assistant à l'enseignement pour
deux cours de niveau 1000 au cours d'une même année scolaire, l'un d'entre
eux étant enseigné par Denis Rancourt.

*Recherche et mentorat*

Je crois d'abord qu'avoir choisi Denis Rancourt comme superviseur pour ma
maîtrise m'a été bénéfique sur plusieurs points, non seulement pour son
expertise scientifique, mais aussi par les principes sur lesquels il base
son rôle de superviseur. Tout en me laissant une bonne autonomie dans
l'organisation de mon travail, il a toujours été très disponible pour me
rencontrer aux moments qui me convenaient. Il a respecté le fait que mon
temps était parfois partagé entre la recherche et d'autres engagements. Tout
en m'encourageant et en m'offrant son aide dans la rédaction d'un article
scientifique, il a accepté que ce n'était pas une priorité pour moi avant la
fin de ma maîtrise. Mon passage dans ce groupe de recherche m'a permis de
comprendre concrètement les avantages de la recherche interdisciplinaire. Le
professeur Rancourt m'a d'ailleurs appuyé dans ma décision de poursuivre mes
études dans un domaine différent (j'étudie maintenant en science des
écosystèmes à Berkeley en Californie).

Si les attitudes que j'énumère semblent naturelles pour tout bon
superviseur, mes discussions avec d'autres étudiantes et étudiants aux
cycles supérieurs, en sciences ou en sciences sociales, me laissent croire
que la plupart de ces attitudes ne constituent pas la norme et que j'ai eu
beaucoup de chance. Je mentionnerai seulement le fait que de plusieurs
d'entre eux parlaient de leur superviseur(e) comme un "patron" (boss) et
décrivaient un groupe de recherche pour le moins hiérarchique, une
conception qui m'est totalement étrangère.

En fait, le principal point négatif lié à ma maîtrise est externe au groupe
de recherche: il s'agissait de railleries et d'insultes que d'autres
professeurs de science (parfois sous le couvert de l'anonymat) ont réservé à
ma recherche pour la simple raison que j'étais "associé" à Denis Rancourt.
Toutefois, cela en dit plus sur l'immaturité de certains professeurs et ces
incidents ne changent pas mon impression hautement favorable de la
supervision du professeur Rancourt.

Néanmoins, si j'ai eu la chance de terminer ma maîtrise avant la décision de
l'université de suspendre Denis Rancourt, je demeure inquiet pour mes
collègues qui n'ont pas terminé leur maîtrise ou doctorat sous sa
supervision. Je n'ai aucun doute que ces étudiants et étudiantes sont les
personnes les plus négativement touchées par la situation actuelle (et le
congédiement probable du professeur). Je veux donc leur exprimer mon appui
total et je demande à l'université de reconnaître le droit de ces étudiants
de choisir eux-mêmes s'ils veulent terminer ou non leur programme sous la
supervision du professeur Rancourt.

*Enseignement*

Si la hiérarchie du groupe de recherche et la course aux publications
peuvent nuire à l'expérience étudiante aux cycles supérieurs, plusieurs
diront que l'expérience étudiante au premier cycle devient encore plus
impersonnelle, surtout dans les grandes universités de recherche. En
sciences, la plupart des cours sont caractérisés par un syllabus imposant
qui demande de passer rapidement à travers beaucoup de matériel, ce qui
laisse peu de place à la personnalisation de l'enseignement. Plusieurs
étudiants sont déçus - avec raison - de payer une petite fortune pour
assister à des cours qui ne représentent qu'un condensé du manuel, un manuel
qu'ils doivent ensuite mémoriser à l'approche des examens, sachant que la
grande majorité de ces connaissances seront oubliées au semestre prochain.

Il y a quelques années, une chroniqueuse du Fulcrum remarquait qu'un
baccalauréat en sciences ne préparait pas à grand chose excepté une maîtrise
en sciences. En fait je considère que le baccalauréat prépare mal les
étudiants aux études supérieures et à la recherche. La recherche porte sur
des problèmes ouverts et complexes, elle demande une analyse critique de la
littérature scientifique... tout le contraire des manuels de cours!

Dans ce contexte, les professeurs de science dont l'enseignement a un impact
sur les étudiants une fois le cours terminé sont très rares. Cela est
accentué par le fait que la recherche et non l'enseignement guident
l'embauche et la promotion des professeurs. (D'ailleurs, un des meilleurs
enseignants que j'ai connu au département de physique, Christian Gigault, a
été embauché spécifiquement pour enseigner. Ceci n'est pas une coïncidence,
si j'en crois les commentaires que j'ai reçus d'autres départements de
science.) Ceci met en perspective les dizaines de témoignages que vous avez
déjà reçus d'étudiants et d'anciens qui décrivent l'impact positif qu'ils
ont reçus de l'enseignement du professeur Rancourt.

Je ne veux pas entrer dans les détails du ''cours d'activisme'' donné par
Denis Rancourt à l'automne 2005, sachant qu'il a déjà fait l'objet d'un long
processus d'arbitrage. Je n'étais pas très à l'aise au départ à l'idée de
"squatter'' un cours, pour reprendre l'expression du professeur. Néanmoins,
je n'ai jamais été témoin d'une salle de classe où les étudiants étaient
aussi passionnés, engagés et intellectuellement libres. Je dois reconnaître
que sans le cours de 2005 comme exemple, il n'y aurait pas eu le même
enthousiasme des étudiants derrière la création officielle d'un cours dans
le même esprit (qui est devenu SCI1101/1501 en 2006).

Je suis donc un des nombreux étudiants qui, sans être d'accord en tous
points avec les opinions et la pédagogie du professeur Rancourt, sont
heureux que cette expérience ait généré de nombreuses discussions sur la
façon d'enseigner à cette université, qui n'auraient pas eu lieu autrement.
Je ne peux pas m'empêcher de déplorer certaines réponses démesurées voire
agressives que certains de ces étudiants ont reçu. Je réfère notamment au
professeur Vladimir Pestov qui a suggéré l'expulsion d'un étudiant pour
avoir envoyé un courriel décrivant les aspects positifs de SCI1101. Je
réfère aussi au professeur Thierry Giordano qui, après m'avoir convoqué à
une réunion pour discuter d'une question reliée à SCI1101, a plutôt menacé
de m'attaquer si je discutais publiquement de la position de
l'administration sur cette question. Je n'élaborerai pas plus longtemps sur
mes deux cas que je vous ai déjà expliqués dans un courriel précédent.


*Conclusion*

À partir de mon témoignage et de celui de dizaines d'autres étudiants,
j'espère que vous conclurez qu'un professeur comme Denis Rancourt a sa place
à l'Université d'Ottawa et qu'il existe un spectre de solutions autres que
les mesures drastiques que votre administration a prise ou recommande de
prendre. Les mesures drastiques et inflexibles ne sont pas dans l'intérêt
des étudiants, à commencer par ceux qui forment le groupe de recherche
actuel du professeur Rancourt.

Les universités mettent souvent en valeur leurs traditions, mais leur
vitalité dépend de la présence continuelle de personnes qui remettent en
question toute tradition. Le but de la liberté universitaire n'est pas de
rendre l'institution plus ''efficace'' à court terme. L'évolution des idées
dans notre société est basée sur la diversité d'opinions, tout comme
l'évolution des écosystèmes est basée sur la biodiversité. Malheureusement,
l'intérêt à court terme a souvent mené les humains à supprimer l'une et
l'autre.

Sincèrement,

Philippe Marchand
Ancien de l'Université d'Ottawa (BSc 2006, MSc 2009)
Étudiant au doctorat, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and
Management, University of California, Berkeley
cc:
Denis Rancourt, professeur à l'Université d'Ottawa
Claude Lamontagne, professeur à l'Université d'Ottawa
James Turk, directeur à l'Association canadienne des professeures et
professeurs universitaires


From: Aaron H
Date: Jan 19, 2009 2:15 PM
Subject: Prof. Rancourt's case
To: claude.cde

To whom it may concern,
 
I sincerely agree with what Professor Rancourt has stated about the grading system being misdirected. Everyone I have seen in this university is proof of what a non-pass-or-fail grading system has accomplished, and that is (feel free to quote this term) "drones and dropouts". There are those who choose to sit alone in their room or the library all day simply studying, in order to spew back all that has been recited to them, so that they can either keep their scholarship, stay safe from academic probation or academic expulsion, or so that they can get into the following program of higher learning that they so choose. These are what I like to label "the drones". The "dropouts" are pretty obvious. They come into first semester looking to advance their learning, and find that simply memorizing the teacher's opinions is too difficult, or not to their liking. So, obviously, they end up either dropping out or being kicked out. As the years go on, there becomes less and less of a discernable "middle grounds" between these two labels, and students become exactly what most professors (obviously not Professor Rancourt) want them to be- exact replicas of themselves (in the opinion and knowledge sense). Professor Rancourt has it right, as did Socrates. Students should focus more on forming their own opinions and thus finding new ways to learn and express that learning, rather than focusing on becoming clones of the teachers (Star Wars comes to mind). So, in closing, I would like to offer my support to Professor Rancourt's cause, and say that I agree full-heartedly with his view on academics.
 
Thank you very much for your time and attention, and good luck with the case,
 
-Aaron Hnatiw
First year student at the University of Ottawa, Criminology


From: Linnéa Rowlatt
Date: Jan 19, 2009 9:18 AM
Subject: Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear President Rock,

There are several aspects to the concern which I have over the University of Ottawa's treatment of Professor Denis Rancourt.  They spring primarily from my positions as both a mature undergraduate student and as a taxpayer; I will detail them below.

As a mature undergraduate student, I am returning to the academic arena after several years of paid and unpaid work in the private sphere.  Upon my return, I have been completely dismayed to observe the general unwillingness of students at the University of Ottawa to engage in the large issues confronting our society at this time.  Not among the smallest of these issues are the environmental consequences of unrestrained consumer capitalism.  Although there are activist groups on campus, they are largely ignored by the majority of students who appear to be attending university explicitly to get a degree as the ticket to a good job (rather than gain an education).  The degree to which the University of Ottawa has been co-opted by neo-conservative priorities is an issue for another letter; my attention here is on the treatment your institution is levying towards a member of the faculty who is offering alternatives to students who are genuinely seeking to understand and address social issues.

Professor Rancourt's courses attracted, inspired and reassured students that options in the gloomy scenario facing are available.  I am exceedingly disappointed that the University of Ottawa administration has chosen to fire Dr. Rancourt, rather than providing him with resources to expand his program.  In fact, so discouraged am I with this attitude on the part of my university's administration that, given the opportunity, I shall pursue Graduate studies elsewhere.  I am unwilling to academically associate myself with an institution that is conducting itself in this fashion.  In my opinion, the actions taken by the University of Ottawa towards Professor Rancourt are evidence of gross political corruption in the administration and an outright betrayal of the institutions mandate.  Your administration's attempt to suppress intellectual and academic freedom renders the scholarly claims of the university false in precisely those arenas.

As a taxpayer in Ottawa, I expect the institutions my tax dollars support to be fully involved in exploring all aspects of the social challenges which face us.  As such, it is only expected that Professor Rancourt's contributions would be welcomed along with all others.  Frankly, continuing to function in the manner which has led us to this point will not provide the means for us to survive as a species, let alone as a nation.  It is precisely the alternatives which are needed at this time:  alternative technologies, alternative social options and alternative visions.  I am gravely disappointed with the University of Ottawa for attempting to silence one of the most interesting voices in the academic community to be addressing urgent questions.  Moreover, I speculate what contributions to resolving the issues facing us today this institution will be able to make in light of its refusal to allow faculty member to make creative contributions towards resolving the situation.

I could not be more disappointed with the actions the University of Ottawa has taken towards Dr. Denis Rancourt.

Sincerely
Linnea Rowlatt


From: Max Kovalenkov
Date: Jan 18, 2009 6:03 PM
Subject: Re: professor Rancourt's suspension
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, alumni, news-at-thefulcrum.ca

Dear Allan Rock,

It has recently come to my attention that Dennis Rancourt, a professor at
the University of Ottawa, has been suspended and banned from campus, and
is, in all likelihood, on the way to being fired. This is quite unexpected
and upsetting news to me.

As a student at the University of Ottawa, I was fortunate enough to attend
some of the lectures in Professor Rancourt's Activism Course (SCI 1101).
His teaching was by far the highest quality learning experience I had
throughout university and was inspiring for those that learned from him.

The Activism Course was good news for both students and staff. It
empowered students and made many of them realize they could actively
participate in the educational process, shaping it and directing it as
necessary. Rancourt's outstanding teaching and professionalism was also
inspiring for other professors, since the bar for engaging teaching was
being raised, and a strong example was being given.

By removing this exceptional and forward thinking professor, the
university and its students will suffer a great loss. This is an
unfortunate move this university has taken and makes for a poor and
unprogressive public image. As an alumni, I feel let down by my Alma
Mater.

In light of the above, I:

1. Protest the university's present course of action regarding professor
Rancourt.

2. Request that the university publish an official statement on the matter
on its web site, preferably in form of a press-release, which would
outline in detail the reasons for professor's suspension, as well as the
university's intended course of action (I tried hard but failed to locate
any such piece of information on university's web site).

3. Request that the Board of Governors hold a meeting on the issue, which
will be open to public and press.

4. Request a reply to this communication, containing a detailed
explanation of how all of the aforementioned requests will be addressed.

Best regards,
Max Kovalenkov


From: Corey
Date: Jan 18, 2009 4:52 PM
Subject: Suspension and dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

January 18, 2009

Mr. Allan Rock,

President's Office,
University of Ottawa,
550 Cumberland Street,
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5.

Dear President Rock,

I'm writing you this letter to express my sincere dismay and disappointment at the recent
decision by the Board of Governors to dismiss Professor Denis Rancourt. By dismissing
Rancourt, a tenured professor with impressive academic achievements and a brilliant
educator, you along with the Board have, in my mind, done irreparable damage to the
University of Ottawa's reputation as an institution of higher learning.

I have never taken a course with Professor Rancourt, but I have attended many of his film
and discussion group events, and have found them to be extremely stimulating and
thought provoking. Rancourt's evident passion for progressive education and critical
thought, coupled with the interest he takes in his students, both official and not, make him
a model professor in my eyes, and someone who should be emulated, not thrown out on
the street.

Considering the recent developments, I have decided to cross the University of Ottawa
off of my list of potential institutions in which to conduct my masters in education.
Undoubtedly, many others like me have been turned off by the Board's recent decision,
and as a result, will also reconsider pursuing studies at the University of Ottawa.

Sincerely,

Corey Balsam
Community member


From: lnikm080
Date: Jan 18, 2009 11:42 AM
Subject: Disapproval of uiversity plans
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
Dear President Rock,

I disagree with the proposed removal of Professor Denis Rancourt from his
position as professor and researcher at the physics department of the
University of Ottawa. Dismissing a tenured professor for allegedly
granting undeserved grades is far too heavy-handed a reaction. He is
also too valuable an asset for this university to lose taking into
account that he is involved in the broader community though the weekly
documentary night formerly known as “Cinema Politica”, which informed
people of interesting and important issues throughout the world that
rarely get the attention they deserve.

As with any conflict, it takes both sides to come to an agreement, but
from the actions of the university has taken, it would seem that it is
provoking further hostility by barring Denis Rancourt from his lab and
removing his graduate students and employees. These actions are
especially extreme considering his research is completely unrelated to
his grading policies, which apparently are the current point of
contention. So, is the university trying to remove a professor they
cannot tolerate rather than bothering to settle this issue in a more
appropriate and agreeable manner?

Sincerely,

Lisa Nikmo


From: Norman Pilon
Date: Jan 18, 2009 12:28 AM
Subject: Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear President Rock,

Denis Rancourt may be a royal pain in the ass and uncomfortably forward at times, but he
is doing the University of Ottawa an indispensable service: helping to heighten both the
social and political awareness of students, co-workers, and members of the public at
large, in short, helping people wake up to the truth of their agency in a world quite
literally brutalized for a lack of individual civic engagement.

If for no other reason than that the University of Ottawa presumably values the struggle
for social justice, Rancourt should not be terminated but actually encouraged in what
evidently appears to be from an administrative viewpoint his folly.

Far from being a danger to the University, his presence on campus goes a long way to
eliciting a sense of community and purpose among students, professors, and residents of
the region. He is controversial, yes, but in his controversies stirs a good many others to
fruitful debate, serious reflection, and the consequent promise of a constructive and
concrete engagement to improving our world. Could the University truthfully ask more
from anyone of its faculty? Should it ask any less?

Do the right thing, Mr. Rock, keep “the debate of everything” going and let the man stay.
The University of Ottawa is and will continue to be a much better place for it. Rancourt
really does have much to offer beyond what he has already given. It would be a travesty
of good judgment to throw him away, not to mention wrong and unconscionable.

Sincerely,

Norman Pilon


From: Andrew Cudowski
Date: Jan 17, 2009 8:13 PM
Subject: Bring Dr. Rancourt Back
To: president
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Allan Rock,

I am currently a masters student at Lakhead University and am shocked and appalled to
hear that Dr. Rancourt has been dismissed from the university of Ottawa.

Compared to other campus I have visited or gone to school at, such as Queen's, Lakehead
or McGill Universities, Ottawa University contains a vibrant intellectual debate that
occurs regarding issues affecting society. At most other schools students are complacent
and rarely ask the question the question "Why?", and don't try to make their voices
heard.For instance, in the fall at Lakehead, a protest to lower tuition fees in Ontario drew
only 6 students, while at Ottawa University hundreds of students came out.

Dr. Rancourt is instrumental in supporting this lively intectual debate that causes students
to as "Why?" and to participate in the democratic process. Without professors like him
much is lost from the university experience. A university's purpose is not just create a labour pool, but to create critically thinking citizens.

Sincerely,

Andrew Cudowski


From: chitat lee
Date: Jan 17, 2009 3:02 PM
Subject: Suspension of Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Allan Rock,

As both an alumni of University of Guelph and member of the community I wish to
express my disagreement over the suspension of physics professor Denis Rancourt.
During my undergrad at Guelph I had the honour of taking part in learning about social
justices issues, which has left an undeniable change in me in heightening my awareness
of such important matters. I have personally attended a few of Denis Rancourt’s events
on social justice issues, and it would be a mistake to remove his contributions to both the
university students and community.

I hope you will strongly reconsider your decision and request the Board of Governors to
hold a public meeting on the question. Thank you very much for time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Chitat Lee


From: Carl Karamaoun
Date: Jan 17, 2009 11:41 AM
Subject:
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear President Rock,

The purpose of my letter is to kindly but assertively express my feelings of disagreement
about the expulsion of Mr. Denis Rancourt.

Although this may be a case of conflict of interests, Mr. Denis Rancourt has practiced his
academic freedom and has given his time to students like me; offering very informative
and harmless information and activities.

I ask that you reconsider your decision and that negotiations begin, as this is a dilemma
that can be solved much more reasonably.

Thank you for understanding,

Carl


From: BOB NYE
Date: Jan 17, 2009 9:53 AM
Subject: public education
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

Since universities instruct young people how to do various things and their
repercussions, I never went to U of O, but it is obvious that the administration has
"boxed themselves into a corner and are swinging blindly", please get them back on
track, restore democracy and stop the "get rid of Rancourt" behaviour.

Bob Nye (community member)

Ottawa ON


From: Jessica Carpinone
Date: Jan 17, 2009 1:19 AM
Subject: In support of Denis Rancourt
To: alan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
Mr. Rock,

I was shocked to hear about Denis Rancourt's dismissal from the U of O and I am writing
to you in the hope that my words will force you to reverse this decision. It is hard to
believe that you dismissed Mr. Rancourt on the basis of his philosophy on grading and
thus I demand that you give me and the university community a more truthful
explanation. There are many professors who have failed almost entire classes (I know
this from personal experience) but who manage to keep their jobs despite being
horrendous and incompetent teachers. Why target Denis? Anyone with half a brain
knows that this has nothing to do with his As that he handed out to his class. WE DEMAND A TRUTHFUL EXPLANATION.

As you already know, Denis is regarded highly by many and most of the students he has
taught and equally as highly by anyone who has been fortunate enough to sit in on his
classes or movie nights. Unlike most professors in the establishment, Denis' teaching
methods challenge us to the core and make us question how affective we are being as
members of society. He teaches us to think critically and affect positive change. In my
opinion, he is the greatest professor the U of O had to offer. You would be fools to go
through with your plans.

I sincerely hope you reconsider this. It is an OUTRAGE that you can use your power in
such twisted ways.

In disgust,

Jessica Carpinone
U of O Alumnus and member of the Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology


From: Jan Heynen
Date: Jan 16, 2009 10:49 PM
Subject: The firing of Mr. Denis Rancourt and quality of education
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock,

I am not directly involved in any way with University of Ottawa. I see the firing of Mr.
Rancourt as a very serious threat to the quality of education at your university. I have a
Masters degree equivalent in Engineering Physics at Delft University in the Netherlands.
One of my pet problems with my university education has been for a long time that I can
call myself 'university educated' while I took nearly all engineering stuff. What is
'universal' about that? I believe that higher education should mean a more than average
breadth of that education. Otherwise the leaders of our society will not be able to relate to
all the effects their actions will have. Physics without a philosophy of life, social
awareness, political view etc. is very dangerous.

I have been at a few of Mr. Rancourt's evening events and they were definitely thought
provoking. What was presented is the kind of material that open minded graduates are
made of. The University of Ottawa should be proud of having such a professor on staff
and should support him!

Jan Heynen P. Eng.

Ottawa


From: erin lee
Date: Jan 16, 2009 1:52 PM
Subject: suspension of Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock, claude.cde


Dear President Allan Rock,

I attended Denis’s closing keynote speech at the Student's for a Democratic Society's
Conference last year at the University of British Columbia.  I was very moved and
inspired by it.  While I am not a UBC student (I am enrolled at the Vancouver
Community College, Fashion Arts) I believe that all of us are affected by the established
educational system and its flaws.  To bring these issues into view is tremendously
important for both the students and the university’s benefit.   Please reconsider your
actions against Professor Denis Rancourt.  

Erin Lee  


From: Margaret Jensen
Date: Jan 13, 2009 10:20 PM
Subject: letter for Denis Rancourt
To: claude.cde
Cc: denis.rancourt
 
Hi Claude,
 
I am sending this letter to Pres. Rock by snail mail. Here is a copy. I am willing for my
letter to be made public.
[…]
 
Regards,
Margaret Jensen

-----------------------------------------
Ottawa, ON 
14 January 2009
 
Allan Rock
President’s Office
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Dear President Rock:
 
I am shocked and dismayed to learn that University of Ottawa physics professor Denis
Rancourt is going to be fired for bringing innovative pedagogical methods into his
teaching. The University’s mandate as an educational institution is to explore and
implement ways to make teaching more effective -- to engage the students and to
motivate them to put forth the best performance they are capable of. To all accounts,
Professor Rancourt’s pedagogical experiments did just that, and produced results that
were very positive. What kind of sense does it make to punish this professor for carrying
out the University’s mandate?
 
I have some personal experience with the controversy over grading as a method of
evaluation, which is apparently the issue that is involved in this dispute. I did my
undergraduate work at Sarah Lawrence College, a top-notch progressive women’s
college in the U.S. The evaluation system there was set up so as to de- emphasize grades,
with the understanding that grades create a climate of fear and stress that inhibits
academic performance. This arrangement was eminently successful with me, as I found it
much less stressful, and much more conducive to learning, to be able to do my academic
work without having to worry about what grade I would receive. I can thus vouch for the
fact that grading as a method of evaluation is a legitimate topic of debate among
educators.
 
It seems to me that a professor who recognizes this, and who goes further to test
alternative methods of evaluation in the classroom, is one who is truly working to achieve
excellence in teaching. Isn’t excellence in teaching what the University is striving for?
How can the University profess to encourage excellence in teaching when it is planning
to fire one of its most dedicated professors?
 
The alleged rationale for the University’s actions seems so absurd and contradictory that I
wonder if there is some deeper motive. Could it be that the University takes issue with
Professor Rancourt’s habit of speaking out on social and political issues, and especially
on political issues within the University? But the University’s mandate includes precisely
this -- to encourage and support critical thinking and expression. I have attended the film
series that Professor Rancourt co-hosts, and I have found his ability to criticize and
question social as well as academic issues useful and inspiring in the work I do on a
community paper that I edit called the “Peace and Environment News.” Professor
Rancourt provides an excellent model for the kind of university graduates that we need --
leaders, who have the capacity to ask fundamental questions about our social systems and
to think beyond the prevailing dogmas and institutions to devise effective ways to solve
the enormous environmental and social problems that face us.
 
Considering the heavy-handed and authoritarian way the University has been carrying out
its directive on Professor Rancourt, I suspect there may be yet some deeper motive
behind their actions. Regardless, the University of Ottawa is a publicly-funded university,
and Professor Rancourt has been diligent in carrying out the public interest as it relates to
the university. I see any attempt to fire him as contrary to the public interest that the University is mandated to serve.
 
In view of the fact that the University of Ottawa is a public institution, and accountable to
the public, I think the public should be consulted on this matter. I request that the Board
of Governors hold a public meeting on this question, with due notice given to the public
through appropriate public media, and opportunity provided for interventions from the
public. I think the public has a right to know the real reasons for these punitive actions
against Professor Rancourt.
 
Please reply to my concerns. I look forward to your response.
 
Sincerely,
 
Margaret Stong Jensen
(Community member)


From: Judith Matheson
Date: Jan 12, 2009 1:25 PM
Subject: Letter to Mr. Roch
To: Claude Lamontagne
 
Dear Mr. Rock
 
I have receive information that compels me to write to you re: the recent dismissal of Professor
Denis Rancourt.
 
I quote the words of a friend: 
 
" We have had enough of riding the storms of fear, lack, ignorance, powerlessness, victimization,
self-hatred, poverty, inequality, being controlled and asleep and we are saturated with those
experiences. Now we bravely step forward to create the highest vision we could ever hold for
ourselves. As a Unity of light we are creating a new way of relating to each other, to the earth and
to ourselves. 
 
I believe that where there is challenge there is hope for change. It is evident that Professor Denis
Rancourt and his students are offering us possibilities of relating to each other in healthier more
positive ways.
 
I do not support the dismissal of this Professor and I would ask for an open meeting for the full
truth to be brought to light regarding issues between them and the authorities of the University of
Ottawa. 
 
The public deserves to hear the truth and bring to light the conditions by which a professor of his
calibre and experience, well love and respected by students, is being treated in such a way. 
 
We must hear what conditions led to this dismissal that may not be considered acceptable.
 
Your helping to see that such openness and transparency towards justice takes place is deeply
appreciated.
 
Yours truly
Judith Matheson
Gatineau QC


From: Luke Russell
Date: Jan 10, 2009 10:21 AM
Subject: Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
 
Dear Allan Rock, 

My name is Luke Russell and I am a University of Ottawa Alumni, class of 2007.  
I am concerned after learning that Denis Rancourt has been suspended and is facing the
possibility of dismissal. To my understanding, the reason cited for his dismissal is that he
awarded A+'s to all of his students. Is this truly the case? If so, I am disappointed that the
culture of higher education has fallen to such a standard that the administration you
represent would penalize a professor for not rank-ordering his students. 
 
I had always hoped that the most important role of a university is to educate, rather than
to discriminate between students. I sincerely hope that the University of Ottawa will
represent a force for higher education, rather than just another means by which we may
sort out young hopefuls.
 
Of course, it is widely assumed that this is not the true reason for your efforts to have him
dismissed. If such is the case, I would ask you to at the least be honest about your
motives. 
 
Irregardless, my greatest concern is that your actions challenge integral aspects of the
university as an institution. Namely, academic and professional freedom, and the
principles of tenure meant to protect them. If the University of Ottawa sets a precedence
for ignoring such principles, it will suffer greatly. After all, democracy and the freedom
of information have long created the best mediums upon which new ideas and innovation
can blossom.
 
In short, Professor Rancourt is an educator and researcher of the highest standing, and
your dismissal of him will undermine my confidence in your institution and faith in the
administration at its head. We should be so lucky to have a professory such as Dr.
Rancourt who not only can perform in a lab, but is passionate enough to concern himself
with the betterment of students, something that I personally noticed many of your faculty
ignored. 
Please feel encouraged to write back in response so that I may adjust any opinions of
mine if they are misinformed. Certainly, it would be to our detriment to have an alumni
lose faith in his alma mater, both with respect to the reputation of the institution and the
possibility of future donations.
 
Sincerely, 
Luke Russell


From: Judith Drutz
Date: Jan 8, 2009 8:43 PM
Subject: Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
 
Mr. Rock,
 
Firing Professor Rancourt is evidence of the University of Ottawa
REJECTING ACADEMIC FREEDOM.
 
Students at the University of Ottawa and Professor Rancourt deserve a
PUBLIC meeting held by the Board of Governors on this issue.

 
Judith Drutz
From: Oli Cosgrove
Date: Jan 8, 2009 7:36 AM
Subject: Fw: Academic Freedom
To: Claude Lamontagne


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Oli Cosgrove 
To: allan.rock 
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 9:03 PM
Subject: Academic Freedom
 
Ottawa, ON 
 
January 8, 2009.
 
Mr. Allan Rock, 
President’s Office,
University of Ottawa,
550 Cumberland Street,
Ottawa, ON  K1N 6N5.
 
Dear President Rock,
 
      What is going on at the University of Ottawa?  It bills itself as “Canada’s University”
but from what I’ve heard and witnessed in regard to the University’s treatment of Prof.
Denis Rancourt, the University is not doing Canada proud.  In my view it is insulting
Canada, firstly in persecuting an outstanding professor and secondly, in doing it in a way
that makes Inspector Clouseau look good:  
      
     Groundlessly removing him from all teaching; barring him from reserving rooms for
the very popular Cinema Politica which was the highlight of my week; unilaterally
deregistering his undergraduate research student Marc Kelly; locking Prof. Rancourt and
his graduate students and employees out of their laboratory without warning or
explanation; having him escorted by police off campus and barring him from the campus
thus depriving his graduate students of his tutelage.  This is not behaviour typical of
Canadians.     
      
      When you took over as president, I thought you would end Mr. Patry’s nonsense. 
You were a student activist at the university, and in government you reached out to John
and Yoko who were dissidents.  But you have accelerated the persecution not only
against Prof. Rancourt but now, also against his students.  Prof. Rancourt isn’t trying to
be obstructive, he is trying to improve the university and has done so by introducing new
courses keyed to developments in science and society, and he challenges students to
develop their brain power.  He has brought valuable research funds and prestige to the
University and has an h-index considerably higher than that of the Dean of the Science
Faculty and physics and chemistry chairmen. Far from trying to destroy him, the
University should be boasting that he teaches at the U of O, is the product of the U of O
and has spent his entire 22-year career at the U of O. Now that would show what
“Canada’s University” is made of!         
 
      But there’s jealousy to contend with, the jealousy and resentment his
accomplishments arouse in some of his colleagues whose egos must be mollified, I
suppose.  I was surprised at how quickly after taking office you took their side.  You
couldn’t have had time for an independent examination of the situation.  And it seems
that even in universities, administrations resist changing their ways of doing things. 
 
      What’s going on at the U of O is going on the world over – everywhere, freedoms are
being repressed:  Quantanamo; Security and Prosperity Partnership in which Canada,
U.S. and Mexico will be ruled by a bureaucracy in Washington, disenfranchising
Canadians; no-fly lists; removal of people’s right to a health modalities of their choice
with implementation at the end of this year of Codex Alimentarius, making vitamins,
minerals, herbs and natural health treatments illegal, forcing us to take pharmaceutical  drugs or nothing.
The list of creeping repression goes on and on.   Universities, however, are meant to
be bastions of freedom and innovation, to lead resistance to oppression and unhealthy
control.  Instead, the University of Ottawa seems to have joined the oppressors.  It has
piqued this journalist’s interest.  I would very much like to meet with you, Mr. Rock, to
hear your views on this matter.  My telephone number is 613-[…].
      
       And, since universities are funded largely by taxpayers, I think the Board of
Governors is obligated to call a public meeting to inform the public about this sorry
affair, and do it immediately. It has been going on behind closed doors for too long
already.  
 
       Yours sincerely, 
 
       Oli Cosgrove


From: marie galophe
Date: Jan 8, 2009 12:10 AM
Subject: Lettre de protestation contre le renvoi de M. Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
 
À l'attention de
 
M. Allan Rock
Président de l'Université d'Ottawa
550 Cumberland
Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5
 
Gatineau, le mercredi 07 janvier 2009
 
   Objet : lettre de protestation contre le renvoi de M. Denis Rancourt.
 
   Monsieur Rock,
 
   Je suis une étudiante étrangère inscrite en doctorat dans le département de
Français de votre université, où je prépare une thèse de doctorat en création
littéraire. J’ai quitté l’Université McGill pour rejoindre la vôtre et suivre ce
programme attractif et rare au Canada. Mais, je me suis trompée.
 
   L’Université d’Ottawa ne m’a pas seulement engagée à suivre un programme de
création littéraire. L’Université d’Ottawa, en la personne de M. Denis Rancourt,
professeur de physique, rencontré au Cinéma Politica, m’a engagée à vivre une
expérience éducative complète, excédant les limites de la salle de classe et les rayonnages d’une bibliothèque.
 
   M. Rancourt, par sa formidable aptitude pédagogique, m’a révélé le caractère
humain de l’université et consécutivement, la place que je pouvais y tenir en
tant que personne désireuse d’apprendre, de s’engager, de participer à
l’amélioration de la vie étudiante.
 
   En ce sens, son travail pour le Cinéma politica est exemplaire. Lors de la
projection d’un documentaire sur les sourds dans le milieu universitaire
nord-américain (vendredi 28 novembre 2008), M. Rancourt nous a offert une
démonstration magistrale de son intelligence, en retournant littéralement le
problème du handicap par rapport à la norme.
 
   Il a réussi à faire advenir, pendant la discussion, l’idée de la relativité
de la norme, limitative et oppressive pour les personnes dites “ normales ”
comme pour celles dites “ anormales ”, en nous amenant à renverser le postulat
de la normalité des “ entendants ”.
 
   Cependant, loin de produire un discours consensuel sur la nécessité
d’intégrer les personnes dites “ handicapées ”, M. RANCOURT L’A FAIT. Nous
étions en train de vivre, avec des sourds, des malentendants, des interprètes,
des étudiants, des artistes, des professeurs, une expérience de dialogue inédite
pour moi. Nous cherchions à comprendre, ensemble et empiriquement, un phénomène
et une culture.
 
        On ne sort pas indemne d’une pareille soirée au Cinéma Politica! La
participation discrète et pertinente de M. Rancourt m’a conduite à une
nécessaire remise en cause de mes catégories mentales, à une reconfiguration de
mon idée de l’Autre et finalement, à une ouverture d’esprit qui signe le style
de M. Rancourt et qui amène immanquablement l’étudiant à être ce qu’il a à être:
un individu pensant.
 
   Ainsi M. Rancourt, à partir des témoignages recueillis dans le documentaire,
a su dépasser le caractère anecdotique de l’exemple au profit d’une vraie
réflexion culturelle et linguistique, au service d’une expérience humaine,
concrète, dont chacun appréciera la pertinence sociale.
 
   Je pourrais multiplier les exemples, en évoquant notamment les échanges
privés que j’ai eus avec M. Rancourt, toujours ouvert et disponible à la
discussion, même envers une étudiante a priori étrangère au département de
physique. À chaque fois, M. Rancourt a désamorcé avec sérénité et sagesse les
inquiétudes que je pouvais avoir en tant qu’étudiante et personne.
 
        Ainsi, la solidité de son discours pédagogique, la cohérence de sa pensée, son
engagement concret à la vivre plutôt qu’à la théoriser font de lui un roc
indispensable pour nous qui vivons ces années d’apprentissage avec des doutes, des difficultés, des remises en question.
 
        J’ai rencontré à l’Université d’Ottawa, en la personne de M. Rancourt, le
professeur que j’attendais depuis mon entrée dans les études supérieures, en
2002, en France. Je suis immensément heureuse de cette rencontre qui m’a amenée
à reconsidérer le métier d’enseignant mais qui m’a aussi amenée à reconsidérer
ma vie et sa valeur.
 
   Pour toutes ces raisons, décrites sommairement ici mais inépuisables au
regard de la richesse des expériences que j’ai vécues aux côtés de M. Denis
Rancourt, je vous prie, M. Rock, d’écouter vos étudiants qui réclament
l’annulation du renvoi de M. Rancourt.
 
   Ne nous privez pas de M. Denis Rancourt.
 
   Ne privez pas votre université d’un vrai pédagogue.
 
   Je vous remercie de l’attention que vous porterez à cette lettre et vous prie
d’agréer mes très sincères salutations.
 
 
   Marie Galophe 


From: Danny Cawley
Date: Jan 8, 2009 12:05 AM
Subject: The dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, barnickles

President Allan Rock,

My name is Danny Cawley and I am recent graduate of the University of Ottawa who
has been following the case of Professor Denis Rancourt with great interest. I would like
it known that I am appalled by the lack of respect for democracy and academic freedom
being displayed in this case.

The University of Ottawa's mission statement says,

We aspire to be, among universities, the essential reference on what Canada
represents: a university that is an integral part of its community, open to the
world, and distinguished by its search for excellence in research, its
high-quality learning environment, its passion for knowledge and innovation…

I would suggest the head of faculty consider how its actions reflect the above
mission statement. From the perspective of an experienced student, it would appear
the actions taken against Professor Rancourt are bordering on, if not examplifying,
hypocricy. Attached is a copy of my honours thesis from my time at the University of
Ottawa. I beseech you, read the paper and pay specific attention to the research
cited within. The paper is quite short and extremely prudent; it addresses the
pedagogical practices at the forefront of the debate with Professor Rancourt.
Above all, it is imperative to see that Professor Denis Rancourt and those that
support him are not focused on the performance of the students so much as the
growth of the students. They are facilitating intrinsic motivation and learning in
accordance with the past 20 years of research on education and motivation---they
are providing a "...high-quality learning environment...".

I cordially request a response from you sir, to the effect of how the University of
Ottawa can justify objecting to Professor Rancourts pedagogical techniques in light of
the research I have attached.

Respectfully,
Danny Cawley



From: Marjorie Robertson
Date: Jan 7, 2009 4:29 PM
Subject: Fw: Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

January 7, 2009

Ottawa, ON
Allan Rock
President’s Office
University of Ottawa
559 Cumberland Street
Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5

Dear President Rock,

The University of Ottawa stands poised to dismiss Professor Denis Rancourt at the very
hour when the academy, your students and the society it serves have most need of the
radical (root) pedagogy he embraces to awaken from the ill-served conformity and
dangerous complacency which dulls awareness to the many serious social and political
challenges which beset our age.

As members of the community, we attended Professor Rancourt’s stimulating and
probing ‘Activism Course’ and Cinema Politica series in 2006-7. From the eclectic
topics he introduced to provoke thoughtful discussion, to the broad issues he made
available for exploration, to the engagement between community and academy he
facilitated, to the relationships of mutual co-learning and co-teaching he encouraged, to
the fostering of respect for inquiry his pedagogy embodied—we had experienced nothing
like it during undergraduate and graduate level education. We witnessed crossgenerational
learning and development blossom over the months and be applied to events unfolding in
the wider society.

This week, Canada’s self-proclaimed ‘national newspaper’, The Globe and Mail,
advanced the idea that heavy munition attacks from air, sea and land against an
entrapped, defenceless indigenous population is ‘measured’. An idealogue Prime
Minister abandoned Canadian civilians in the Gazan assault zone while he expressed our
country’s support for the attack. Dissembling, secrecy and manipulation have become
the hallmarks of his administration. In our beloved Canada dissenting voices are
systematically ignored or marginalized by a mainstream press which is ever more captive
to narrow corporate interests--creating conditions ripe for the undermining of our
precious democracy. Canada keeps company with rogue states, even making secret
traitorous agreements with them. The world faces what many believe will be a more
farreaching financial disaster than the 1930’s depression. We are supposedly at peak oil
yet oil prices have plummeted. We see governments rewarding fiscal irresponsibility,
raiding the public purse thus penalizing citizens who had nothing to do with the debacles
which have brought the very financial system into peril.

When is the time for ‘radical re-thinking’ if not now?

We urge you to resist the silencers and controllers who surround and entice you. We
urge you to take a stand to give deeply needed space for ‘radical’ (root) new, creative and
provocative thinking and new ways of being in the academy.

Retain Professor Denis Rancourt. Take the steps necessary to understand why there
needs to be space at institutions of higher learning for his kind of thinking, his kind of
teaching, his kind of engagement. The word provocative has many meanings---
challenging, disturbing, stimulating, annoying, even goading and Professor Rancourt---
we acknowledge—may sometimes be all of these--and for the highest aims. Universities
will need robust flexibility to withstand the challenges ahead. Those who hide in
patrician isolation and cannot deal with the kind of provocation for learning that
Professor Rancourt provides will falter and fail in their educational missions.
Courage! Leadership! Start laying the much needed groundwork for the awesome
challenges ahead facing our society, our generations, our time in history.

Sincerely,

Marjorie and Campbell D. Robertson

 


 

From: Anne Davison
Date: Jan 7, 2009 2:00 PM
Subject: letter
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, Denis Rancourt

President Rock,

I and impending dismissal from his professorship, and the way in which he has been
treated by the University of Ottawa over these past months. I am one of the many
students fortunate enough to have been taught by Denis. In my seven years at various
post-secondary institutions I never encountered a teacher of Denis' strength. He was (and
still is) always willing to ask the toughest questions, which is the essence of true research
and learning. Not only would he ask himself these questions, but he would pose them to
us, his students; having to face the ramifications in my own thought patterns of his
shining light upon controversial issues was perhaps the most challenging work I ever
faced at university. Denis' teaching was not just about the textbook, but about life: we
talked of personal choices, global issues, critical thinking, the best ways in which to
contribute to society. Everything was pertinent. Though I took the course over a year
ago, I still think daily about the concepts that were brought up in that classroom. It is not
an exaggeration to say that Denis' influence has changed my view of the world. Denis
introduced me to several fascinating pedagogues (including Noam Chomsky and Paulo Freire) as well as a system of grading (pass/fail) that I had never experienced before. For
all the controversy surrounding this method of grading, I speak from experience when I
say that a pass/fail system was a much more motivating, wholesome and reflective way to
mark students than the traditional marking systems that I had experienced in the past.

I urge you to reconsider your plans to expel Denis from the University of Ottawa. This
expulsion would be a detriment to future students. You have a real chance here to make
your university a bastion of academic freedom, not of corrupt, political suppression.
Show the strength of your own character and do what's right for the students at the
University of Ottawa.

I look forward to hearing your response on this matter.

Sincerely Yours,

Anne Davison
University of Ottawa Alumnus



From: Elizabeth Holloway
Date: Jan 7, 2009 1:28 PM
Subject: Request for public meeting
To: allan.rock.rock
Cc: eholl020, claude.cde

Dear Allan Rock,

I am a fourth year undergraduate student concerned by the University of Ottawa's plan
to fire Professor Denis Rancourt. I request that the Board of Governors hold a public
meeting on the question and respond to concerns from on and off campus. As a former
student of Denis Rancourt, I have personally witnessed the impact of his work on
individuals and groups, within and between the student and external communities. Denis'
contributions have been unique and invaluable to my experience at the University of
Ottawa. Removing Rancourt from this institution will cheapen my diploma. I regret that
future students may not encounter his dynamic teaching and engaging discourse. I ask
that the Board of Governors move toward justice by holding a public meeting on Denis'
dismissal and respond to concerns from on and off campus.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Holloway
eholl020


From: James Douglas
Date: Jan 7, 2009 12:48 PM
Subject: Re: Planned dismissal of Denis Rancourt
To: Allan Rock
Cc: claude.cde

With all due respect Mr. Rock, the fact that Professor Rancourt belongs to a union does
not have much bearing on the content of my email, or whether the university should even
try to dismiss a professor because of his political ideas. You write as though the professor
is just another employee in a corporation rather than considering the University as a place
of higher learning where professors and academic freedom play an absolutely essential
role.

On 7-Jan-09, at 12:14 PM, Allan Rock wrote:

Thank you for your recent message.

The relationship between the University and its faculty members, including
Professor Rancourt, is governed by a collective agreement.

In all of its dealings with Professor Rancourt, the University has complied strictly
with the terms of that collective agreement, and will continue to do so.

Professor Rancourt has due process and opportunities for recourse through this
collective agreement and his union.

Kind regards,

Allan Rock

From: James Douglas []
Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2009 5:36 PM
To: Allan Rock
Cc: claude.cde
Subject: Planned dismissal of Denis Rancourt

Dear Allan Rock,

I am writing you this letter to try to encourage you to respect Professor Rancourt's tenure,
and to use your power to prevent his dismissal.

Last year when I lived in Ottawa, I attended to a number of movie screenings that the
professor has hosted, and I always had an interesting time. I think it is very good that
students on campus can learn from someone who does things differently. It is important
that we learn about things outside of our narrow academic field.

Although you may not agree with some of Dr. Rancourt's political ideas, I urge you to
respect this difference. University of Ottawa will be better for it. People cannot have any
deep respect for a university that dismisses professors based on their political ideology.

How can a university function well with an atmosphere like that?

Sincerely,

James Douglas
Kingston, On.



From: Jane Gibson
Date: Jan 7, 2009 11:14 AM
Subject: Suspension of Prof. Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear Mr. Rock.

I graduated with an MA in Criminology from the University of Ottawa in 1971. Since
then, I have had little contact with the university until I started attending the Cinema
Politica series organised by Professor Denis Rancourt. I attended regularly for two years
and during this time I have contributed to the university's fund-raising campaigns. For
me, this Friday evening series has been a major success with enthusiastic participation by
students of all ages. The quality of the films and discussion was far above any other such
programme I have attended. This was the type of challenging environment that belongs
in a university that takes seriously the notion of a "community of scholars". Professor
Rancourt has been thoroughly professional in his leadership, even-handed and open to all
ideas.

To put it mildly, I am alarmed at the university's plan to fire Professor Rancourt. I would
like to meet with you personally to discuss this very serious matter. In addition, I
believe that the Board of Governors should hold a public meeting where all points of
view can be aired. There seems to have been an inordinate amount of secrecy, collusion
and bad faith involved in the administration's handling of Professor Rancourt's tenure. I
am willing to put time and energy into helping resolve this unfortunate turn of events.

Yours sincerely,

Jane Gibson (613-).



From: jcomb020
Date: Jan 7, 2009 1:05 AM
Subject: A letter protesting the proposed dismissal of Dr. Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
7 January 2009

Dear Mr Rock,

I am writing to express my dismay and disagreement with the suspension and
pending dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt. I think this would be a
terrible loss for the University of Ottawa (UofO) community. I have not
taken any courses with Denis, but have attended the UofO Cinema Politica
documentary series since 2006. This community event has been a welcome
and enriching part of my life at UofO, particularly the lively and
challenging discussions after each screening. At these screenings and at
other community events, Denis and I have had many discussions, including
heated debates. Whether I agreed with his points or not, I have
appreciated him challenging my thinking, and I have benefited
intellectually from these educative exchanges. My experiences at the
Ottawa Cinema Politica evenings were on par with the best graduate
seminars I have attended at UofO. Provocative and important subject
matter was presented, followed by critically examining these controversial
issues through open and respectful debate and discussion.

Another troubling issue for me is that I actually hesitated to write this
letter in support of Denis because I feared the possible repercussions.
That alone firmed my resolve to write this letter, because I genuinely
hope that my UofO community is consistent with the UofO mission statement,
which is to be “a university that is an integral part of its community,
open to the world, and distinguished by its search for excellence in
research, its high-quality learning environment...its passion for
knowledge and innovation, and its openness to diversity. Every member of
our institution will take part in our educational mission.”(1) Denis
exemplified the aims of this mission statement by cultivating venues (such
as Cinema Politica and the activism course) that brought the wider Ottawa
community together with our academic community. This certainly enriched
my own learning environment. Denis' approaches and points have
consistently been innovative. And Cinema Politica was absolutely open to
diversity, indeed, Denis fought to ensure there would be sign language
translation for deaf community members.

Acting upon the above vision of our University means that critiques from
community members like Denis should not be silenced, but should be
encouraged. Dissent, conflict, and debate are important to achieve
excellence in an academic environment. Firing the messenger does not burn
his message. And if the message is about a problem at the University,
firing the messenger will not solve the problem. No institution is
perfect, and both individuals and institutions have blind spots and an
incomplete view of the world and of specific problems. Therefore as
stated above, every community member does have a role to play in shaping
our UofO community to manifest the excellent ideals expressed in our
mission statement.

I hope the Board of Governors will hold a public meeting about the
proposed dismissal of Denis Rancourt, and that the process will be
transparent. And I look forward to your response to my above concerns.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Julie Comber
PhD Student, Faculty of Education
University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa
1.http://web5.uottawa.ca/vision2010/mission-vision-and-values.html



From: Ilya Golub
Date: Jan 7, 2009 12:24 AM
Subject: Prof. Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear university of Ottawa President Allan Rock:

While many points of view of Prof. Rancourt are debatable, using a smallish "academic"
pretext to dismiss him put the responsible for this action at a level below decency. The
only way to find/prove truth is in an open debate/exchange of opinions which is the
foundation of universities.

I sincerely hope that common sense will prevail, Prof. Rancourt will be reinstalled and
University of Ottawa administration/faculty will resort to methods appropriate to this
university's status of first rate academic institution in tackling the "problems" related to

Prof. Rancourt's teaching methods/opinions.

Sincerely,
Dr. I. Golub



From: Gavin D
Date: Jan 7, 2009 12:18 AM
Subject: Denis Rancourt
To: alan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Denis Rancourt's Science in Society course provides a valuable outlet
for many students, staff and community members who wish to organize and
have productive debates, discussions, and plans for action. The course
has not done any damage to the university as far as the students are
concerned (who are, after all, the most important members of the
institution). In fact, it is incredibly refreshing to have that course,
after the laborious and, often, boring classes that so many other
professors offer (they could perhaps learn something from it).

Firing Professor Rancourt will simply demonstrate that the University
of Ottawa is an institution that does not openly accept change and
diversity, which is certainly not the view we would want to have in
this day and age. Allow him to stay and continue his valued work, and
think of the students for once.



From: Martha Ruben
Date: Jan 6, 2009 5:34 PM
Subject: Professor Denis Rancourt suspension
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde, clamonta, dgr

Dear Dr. Allan Rock:

I have been informed that “Physics professor Denis Rancourt has been suspended
awaiting dismissal, barred from campus, removed from his graduate students, and
escorted off Campus by university police”. This fact is VERY disturbing in a free society
like ours, since it is Freedom of Expression (and not Denis) what has, once more, been
expelled from a University. This letter is to express my profound disapproval of the
University’s plans to fire Professor Denis Rancourt.

Universities are the foundations of knowledge, the sources of new ideas and the
pillars of free thought; they should never be controlled by the powers of the day or sold to
corporate interests. There are many ways in which disagreement with the procedures used
by a professor can be analyzed and processed. The authoritarian expulsion of a professor
is not the correct way to proceed in a democratic and free society like ours.

Professor Rancourt has a brilliant career, and well recognized credentials. He is,
actually, one of the best members of the Faculty at Ottawa University, matching an
excellent teaching profile with strong research. He received some of the largest research
grants in the Faculty of Science and started his university career under the prestigious
NSERC University Research Fellow program, following a national competition among
newly sponsored university professors. In 2001, he obtained the largest NSERC Strategic
Project Grant ever obtained in the Faculty of Science, to study boreal forest lakes for five
years, (the university even put out a full-page-width advertisements in the Globe and
Mail, The Ottawa Citizen, Le Droit, and Silicon Valley North featuring him and his
research group) and in 2008, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada (NSERC) renewed his grant through 2013.

How can a recognized scientific authority, like Professor Rancourt, be expelled of
the university? Which are the forces, political, economical, corporate, or personal, that
are behind such a decision? Is Ottawa University going to join the dark list of universities
that failed Freedom of Expression across the history of our civilization? I consider that
the Board of Governors of the University should hold a public meeting to discuss
Professor Rancourt dismissal, and I also would like to hear your answers to my questions
as well as your reasons to dismiss Professor Rancourt.

What a poor and depressing way to start 2009!!!... I expect that the dismissal of
Professor Rancourt will not proceed as started and that he receives appropriate excuses
from the University for this misunderstanding...

Sincerely,

Martha Ruben, M.D., Ph.D.
Biomedical Consultant,
Biomedical Writer, Editor, and Translator (ENSP)
Ottawa, Ontario



From: fisker
Date: Jan 6, 2009 4:53 PM
Subject: A plea for professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Mr. Rock,

Some people teach, others preach, but precious few can instill the will to think or act.
Denis Rancourt is one of the rare professors I’ve had the honor of working with who
managed to stimulate me each and every class. I left not a single lecture lacking a sense
of purpose or a desire to put what knowledge I had gleaned into practice. Barring this
man from teaching is not in the best interest of the student body as it deprives us of a
valuable resource. He should be considered an asset and a powerful voice for much
needed change. I strongly urge you to reconsider your attempts to forcefully remove this
man from our beloved campus.

Sincerely,

Éric Nathaniel Fisk, a concerned alumnus



From: Amy Hammett
Date: Jan 6, 2009 1:39 PM
Subject: Very Concerned Student
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Mr. Rock,

I am writing to express my disgust in the University's decision to dismiss Professor Denis
Rancourt. This, unfortunately, is not the first time that I have been disgusted by the
University's administration and am, once again, embarrassed to be a student at this
university. The suspension and dismissal of Denis Rancourt is a clear attempt to silence a
critical voice on this campus. I have attended Denis' Ottawa Cinema Politica, and I assure
you that Denis' contribution to this campus and community were huge to say the least.
These Friday evenings led to very interesting discussions and I always left considering
new ideas or examining my surroundings through a new lens. This is what real education
does for a person, it introduces new ideas and perspectives and encourages critical
thought. I gained more critical thinking skills through events like the ones Denis hosted,
than in any of my classes. Through your actions, you are not only committing a great
injustice to Denis, and the other professors you are clearly setting an example for, but
also to the students. I would ask to meet with you in person to reiterate my disgust, but
after hearing the treatment you provide students who visit your office I will instead ask
for a response to this letter explaining both yours and the administrations' actions in this
situation as well as why the Board of Governor's has not yet scheduled a public meeting
regarding this situation.

Sincerely,

Amy Hammett



From: Wayne Sawtell
Date: Jan 6, 2009 12:39 AM
Subject: Prof. Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde

Dear President Rock,

I recently learned of the dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt from his post at the
University of Ottawa. As a student, I must say I am outraged by this action. How could
any reasonable person believe that Professor Rancourt's action merit disciplinary action
by the university? Aside from his stellar research record, which has brought acclaim to
the University of Ottawa, Denis Rancourt is the most dynamic professor on campus and
exhibits the most dedication to ensuring that his students learn important material and
develop the ability to think independently. The new courses that Professor Rancourt has
developed have been overwhelmingly popular among students and
participating community members, despite the resistance they have received from the
administration to any kind of fundamental change in pedagogical methods. No one in the
administration at this university can possibly be current with the published literature on
pedagogy given that a strict adherence to grades is maintained. Grading promotes
counterproductive competition among students and inhibits the pursuit of knowledge for
its own sake. For functional examples of non-grading alternatives, refer to the University
of California at Berkeley. In the case of Professor Rancourt's upper year Physics course,
he made clear at the outset of the course that all students would receive an A+ in order to
eliminate the stress and anxiety associated with the pursuit of high grades and put the
focus back on learning. There was no attempt at deception of either the students or the
administration. Setting the grading scheme is well within the rights of a professor. The
University of Ottawa has shown a severe lack of respect for this principle of academic
freedom. This disciplinary action is a terrible example to send to university students who
will be among the leaders of our society in the future. I ask that you make all proceedings
with the Board of Governors on this issue open to the public. If the Board of Governors
decides to uphold the dismissal, I urge you not to approve it.

Yours truly,

Wayne Sawtell



From: David Mandelzys
Date: Jan 5, 2009 11:19 PM
Subject: The harassment and potential dismissal of Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
Dear Mr. Rock

I am a former student of Professor Ranourt's, and a current teacher candidate at the University of Toronto. The further I go through teacher's college at OISE, the further I realize how groundbreaking and innovative Professor Rancourt's pedagogical practice was. His class evoked more critical thinking, and action than any other I experienced at University and it was what inspired me to enter education. The democratic classroom, student centered learning, interactive and engaging lessons, these were the principles embodied in Professor Rancourt's classes, and are the standard we are taught to strive for in Teacher's College.

I am appalled at the harassment that Professor Rancourt has been subjected to. I am also
extremely concerned that the University of Ottawa may soon take the extreme step and dismiss Denis Rancourt, a tenured Professor. If Denis is dismissed the University of Ottawa will not only be terminating groundbreaking and thought provoking experiments in education, but losing a valuable professor that cares for and makes time for his students. I urge you to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

Sincerely

-David Mandelzys


From: Sylvia Smith
Date: Jan 5, 2009 8:51 PM
Subject: in support of Denis Rancourt
To: alan.rock
Cc: claude.cde
 
Dear Dr. Rock,
 
I am a mature student and take courses regularily at the University of Ottawa.   As well as
a teacher in Ottawa Carleton District School Board.
 
I am appalled at the decisions the University is making in reference to dealing with Dr.
Rancourt.  I am an engaged learner in his Cinema Politica events.  I also have had
numerous discussions with Dr. Rancourt and impressed with his commitment to social,
economic, and political justice, something far too many educators distance themselves
with, and yet, is what real learning and engagement in the academic process is all about.  
Dr. Rancourt should be honoured, not pillaried!

I want to tell you that you will not be doing either the university community, or the
community at large a favour by firing Dr. Rancourt.  In fact, you will be doing us,
collectively, a great harm.  He should NOT be fired, period.  In fact, I request that the
Board of Governors hold a public meeting on the question.  This would be real
democracy in action.  I would also like to have a meeting with you personally, so that this
matter can be discussed and you might be able to answer the questions I have concerning
Dr. Rancourt.

As an esteemed academic and politician, and someone who has (I hope) the better health
and welfare of all learners and citizens of our community,  I request that you listen to the
people who are learning, collaborating, and making a difference in our world.  Dr.
Rancourt is one of those people.
.
Sincerely,
.
Sylvia Smith
--  
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sylvia Smith
Teacher,  
Elizabeth Wyn Wood Alternate Site
Coordinator, "Project of Heart"

 


From: Graeme O'Farrell
Date: Jan 5, 2009 7:50 PM
Subject: Appeal for Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde  
 
To Allan Rock, dishonourable President of the University of Ottawa

 

I am dismayed to hear of the University of Ottawa's plans to fire Denis Rancourt,
professor beloved by many and someone I owe a debt of gratitude to. I attended the
second running year of Denis Rancourt's popularly known "Activism Class" which
pressed the limits of traditional education into new territory for students and community
members.
.
The novel structure of this class allowed students to design their own curriculum and to
learn without pressure or stress under the glaring eye of grades. On a pass/fail system,
students needed only to show a true and devoted interest in the course contents and to
prove in the final exam that learning, critical thinking and community collaboration had
taken place during the student's participation in the course. It also allowed community
members such as myself to attend, offering the students contribution from outside the
niche of academia and offering the community free education. Furthermore the topics
covered were controversial, varied and many, with an overall theme of social justice
which inspired much dialog between students and community members alike.
 
More valuable than any of the content in the course was the opportunity of those in
attendance to organize into workgroups and to collectively pursue assignments and
curriculums of their choosing. This practice encouraged consensus building, community
organization and a grassroots form of democratic decision making. Many of these
workgroups did valuable work, including fighting to uphold the Activism Course and to
receive more TA support in spite of the administration's constant reluctance to admit the
Activism Course as legitimate.
 
It's true that Denis' methods are not traditional and should be examined and tested, not
necessarily accepted at face value as the next big thing. The key in the challenge Denis is
making to the administration, however, is student freedom and participation. Students
must have equal say in how their education system will function, and Denis is giving
them the freedom and the right to have their voices heard. I can understand your fear and
your reluctance to let Denis continue his work, as it challenges many of the foundations
upon which the University rests. But you must understand that to fire Denis and attempt
to invalidate this revolution in education will only aggravate the situation your students
are in. They are oppressed.

So I write to you now to appeal to your better nature. Firing a professor who is
challenging the system is an act of cowardice. Acting diplomatically, democratically,
transparently and in co-operation with professors, board members AND students is an act
of great courage that could completely transform education as we know it in Canada for
the better. You could be seen as a leader to turned the tide of administrative oppression in
the classrom, rather than just another in a long line of presidents and hard-lining
professors who demand that students learn discipline under judgement of their
"superiors" and pay homage to a strict system that indoctrinates rather than inspires.
 
If you try to stomp on the freedoms of professors and students now, they will only
organize again in other ways and carry with them the grudge of being beaten down one
too many times. Already several letter writing campaigns and demonstrations have been
made in Denis Rancourt's defence, and these sorts of actions will not cease but rather
increase as long as the university refuses to change.
 
I have chosen not to attend University but instead to educate myself simply because of
the structure of most university administrations and classrooms. I know that most
University institutions cannot or will not bend enough to accomodate my capacity for
learning. Changing the ways of a rigid education system is opening the doors to me and
those like me who have the discipline to learn without the imposition of the
administration. It would be increasing the opportunity for prosperity in Ottawa and
abroad.
 
Students are the next generations leaders. Give them the credit they deserve. Your own
Vision statement for the university implies that in resisting this movement for greater
autonomy in the classroom and freedom for students you are being a hypocrite to your
own institution. I ask that you stand by your own Vision statement and open yourself to
new forms of teaching, learning and administering education. 
 
As a beneficiary of companies such as Gold Corp whose human rights record reflects on
the reputation of the University, you have every reason to seek out an innovative new
form of learning that includes social justice and activism. This would effectively help
your reputation and your moral standing in the eyes of prospective students. You may
have to turn down a donation from the next human rights abuser that wants a building
erected in their name, but this money could in turn be raised by bringing in new students
who are most self-sufficient in their learning and who can find new ways of supporting
their university ethically.
 
To fire Denis Rancourt is a disservice to your administration, the University, the students
and the public. He is not a criminal and has done nothing wrong to deserve this treatment.
He has only upheld the principles of democracy in a non-democratic institution.
 
What other reason do you have to fire this upstanding professor besides fear and an
unwillingness to change for the better?

I ask that you acknowledge receipt of this letter and reply with a valid answer to the
above question before January 9th, 2008.
 
Do the right thing, don't hold on to the old ways that no longer work. Make a difference
where you can and you can make a difference for students all over the world by your
example. All that is being asked of you is that you erase a historically oppressive mandate
in the structure of education and help to usher in freedom for students and professors in
the classrooms.
 
Awaiting your reply,
Graeme O'Farrell


From: rob Courcy
Date: Jan 5, 2009 3:27 PM
Subject: request a public meeting
To: allan.rock 
Cc: claude.cde 
 
I am a great fan of Mr. Denis Rancourt, what a shame, how can you
not encourage this guy 100%. 
 
So I am sending you Mr. Allen Rock this protest statement against the
university’s plan to fire Professor Rancourt.
I request that the Board of Governors hold a public meeting on the question and that
I meet with you Mr. Allan Rock in person to discuss the matter. Very important that I
get some answers.  
 
Also make sure it’s very public because I want to know when this will take
place, I have a very limited amount of computer time so; please make sure we all
have the change to attend.
 
He's a super man and your constantly taking away Denis free right to grow,
to prosper and to make change. Change is good, it's away of learning, growing and
moving forward.
 
I loved that he got the public involved, I also should have the right to learn,
to participate, to some free education. 
 
The world turns around and around, are you part of it or not.  Too many good things
surrounded by to many great people that are involved can not be stopped.  What an
example of craziness, What planet are you from?
 
Thank you 
Robert Courcy

 


From: Isabelle Soucy
Date: Jan 5, 2009 2:12 PM
Subject: My gratitude towards the university
To: allan.rock  
 
Dear President Allan Rock,
 
  I have happily invested four years of my life studying at one of Canada`s most
renowned universities and I am proud when I say that I have acquired my education from
the University of Ottawa. To me, it is an institution that values learning, that encourages
research and discoveries, and guides young adults to become autonomous, confident,
creative and rational members of our Canadian society. Some people do complain that
university is still a difficult environment in which we learn to memorize, cram, and jump
through the many hoops required to get the desired paper at the end of it all, but I`ve
always believed that university is what you make of it, and I have made it into an
experience that I have no complaints about.  
 
  I have made most of my research projects intrinsically meaningful; I have found aspects
of each course with which I could identify, I have studies random courses out of pure
interest, and I have tailored my course selection to best promote my academic and
personal growth. I am profoundly grateful that the University of Ottawa offers a wide
variety of courses, professors and teaching approaches that meet individual needs. I am
especially grateful that the university allows enough freedom to the students and the
professors, which allowed me to make and fashion my experience into what it has been.  
 
 And personally, this is why I am grateful that the University staff is composed of so
many different personalities with so many divers views and approaches. I am grateful for
those professors that go beyond the necessary and that find ways to motivate the students,
encourage creativity, critical thinking, and action. Professors like these wake up the life
in all of us that energizes us to reach our potential and surpass our limits. This is what
Professor Denis Rancourt and professors like him represent. These are the professors the
University NEEDS to keep, to value and to recognize. These are the type of individuals
that have allowed me to make my university experience what it has been, that have
allowed me to grow into what I have become.  
 
 So I ask you, President Allan Rock, to please join me in the appreciation of these
individuals. If there is a conflict between you or the University and Professor Rancourt,
there must be a better way to resolve it than to fire him. Sure, he may be unconventional,
but this is exactly what some of us seek and need in our university endeavor to stimulate
us and feed our passions. If others don't appreciate this unconventionality, then it is as
much their responsibility to tailor their university experience to their needs, and thus
choose not to register in an unconventional class. What I ask is that the option remains an
option. I am graduating in April, so these options that I had and want to stay are not for
me. I profoundly wish for the University of Ottawa to allow the students of the future to
accomplish themselves in the ways of their choice. I believe that it is a unique and
precious quality of the University that must be preserved. Firing Professor Rancourt
would symbolize abolishing this freedom to choose our education, to fullfill ourselves to
our liking; it would symbolize pulling support for creativity, critical thinking and
uniqueness. It would symbolize that this University that I love and praise, is changing. 
 
  For prospective students, and to give us graduating students some peace of mind, please
find a better way to resolve your conflicts, and keep Professor Rancourt active on the
teaching staff.
 
  Thank you for your time and consideration,
Isabelle Soucy

 

 


From: Emily Coffey
Date: Jan 5, 2009 1:48 PM
Subject: Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde  
 
Dear President Allan Rock,
 
It is with disappointment that I learnt of Prof. Denis Rancourt’s recent suspension and pending
dismissal from the University of Ottawa. Disappointment may be an odd choice of terminology,
considering I have never met or taken a class with professor Rancourt and have no personal
interest in his career. My disappointment comes from recalling my own experiences at U of O.
Despite achieving academic excellence on paper, I found myself feebly stimulated and
continually frustrated by the poor pedagogy imposed by the administration's apparent need to
standardize, control, and constrain all aspects of the learning process. Regrettably, I now consider
large portions of my time at U of O wasted.  
 
Lest this sound like an unfair overgeneralization, I provide a few short examples. I stopped
attending several undergraduate courses altogether, as I found I could get an A+ by reading the
textbook chapters before a test. This proved more efficient and interesting than the classes, which
were textbook summaries. This was my first indication that my time at U of O would not
constitute what I believe is a university education (I learned to read quite well in grade school). In
a course entitled ‘Child Development’ I studied the mechanisms of learning over development,
curves of retention, and best teaching methods. It was required that this material be committed to
memory, in the form of a large numbers of facts and figures extracted from a textbook, the
temporary retention of which was graded by multiple-choice examination.  The absurdity of being
forced to learn about learning in the (scientifically demonstrated) worse possible way forced me
to raise the topic with professor, who recognized the problem but insisted on the need to conform
to U of O grading and reporting requirements. During my studies, my father was hired in the
English department as a part-time professor. He believed that a class entitled ‘Essay Writing
Workshop’ and purporting to prepare undergraduates for communicating academically is not best
accomplished in an auditorium setting with 60 students.  His desperate attempt to improve the
skills of his students by personally editing and providing feedback on several of their drafts was
repressed as it differed from other sections of the same course, with the following explanation
from the Dean: “This is not a teaching university”. Perhaps U of O should write this slogan on the
website to avoid misrepresenting itself to prospective students.
 
It was only through contact with a very small group of inspiring U of O professors with teaching
approaches similar to Prof. Rancourt’s that I managed to subject myself to an entire
undergraduate degree at U of O. In my current university, I am pleased that there is less focus on
earning fractions of percentage points and more on preparing oneself to be an effective scientist.
My professors have the freedom to create interesting and challenging learning environments as
they see fit. To the few professors at U of O who did so anyway, I owe my career, and things I
value much more – my inspiration and curiosity for my subject, and my ability to think critically. 
 
I have focused on criticisms of Prof. Rancourt’s use of unconventional pedagogy, as it is the
aspect of his dismissal which most enrages me. My colleagues will undoubtedly share their
thoughts on why it is inappropriate and harmful for a university administration to punish an
employee for their political opinion and for questioning conventional beliefs.  Those in positions
of responsibility at the University of Ottawa have missed or forgotten something of the essence of
what a university is, or should be. The University and society needs Prof. Rancourt and many
more like him.
 
 
Emily Coffey
 
B.Sc. Psychology (Honours) – Summa cum laude, University of Ottawa
M.Sc. Brain and Cognitive Science (candidate), Universiteit van Amsterdam
Human Behaviour and Performance Specialist, European Space Agency

 


From: Joe Girard
Date: Jan 5, 2009 12:55 PM
Subject: Open Letter Regarding the Expulsion of Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock 
Cc: claude.cde 
 
Dear Mr. Rock, 
 
I'm writing to chuck in my chips about the systematic, dispiriting, unimpressive, and
shady expulsion of Professor Denis Rancourt. I first met Mr. Rancourt on even terms, as
fellow men of academic proclivity, at a university-based film and discussion group. In
our discussions, I was first struck by Mr. Rancourt's ability to command the respect and
consideration of all present, despite the tendency of others to disagree with his views.
Myself included. It was clear that Mr. Rancourt is a man of contention, with unique and
well-considered beliefs, which I instantly recognized as shaped by his experience and his
awareness of himself and others. Most people, to a large fault, make their decisions and
conduct themselves based on outward appearances and what others will think. Having
reviewed the professor's history, I can see that his personal conduct and philosophy,
independent and highly esteemed if controversial, is working to the great benefit of the
school for which you are namely responsible. Should you choose to torpedo his efforts, it
would be a self-aimed injury, Mr. Rock.
 
Leaving the film and discussion group for the first time I felt energized and inspired that
my girlfriend, whom I support financially, attends an educational facility where such men
as Mr. Rancourt can exist and flourish. It was an exciting and enthusing comment on the
future of the 21st century university.
 
Know that I, in conjunction with thousands of others (and who knows how many tens of
thousands of others, through word of mouth), will lose an unfathomable amount of
respect for your institution, should you proceed on the grounds you tread presently. Your
actions show that you're aware that the only way to get Mr. Rancourt's kind out of your
system is to create an atmosphere that causes them to leave on their own, through
bullying, implicit language, and suppression. It's going to difficult for you at this point to
convince those aware of your current actions that your interest is for conducting an
institution that is transparent, fair, and of significant value. Ethical.
 
Not my girlfriend nor I desire ties with such an institution that would not uphold these
most basic properties. I know it's in you to make the right decision on these matters. I
know it's in you to maintain your integrity. 
 
~Joe Girard


From: gdyke089 
Date: Jan 5, 2009 5:47 AM
Subject: Denis Rancourt
To: alan.rock 
Cc: claude.cde 
 
Denis Rancourt's Science in Society course provides a valuable outlet for many students,
staff and community members who wish to organize and have productive debates,
discussions, and plans for action. The course has not done any damage to the university
as far as the students are concerned (who are, after all, the most important members of the
institution). In fact, it is incredibly refreshing to have that course, after the laborious and,
often, boring classes that so many other professors offer (they could perhaps learn
something from it).
 
Firing Professor Rancourt will simply demonstrate that the University of Ottawa is an
institution that does not openly accept change and diversity, which is certainly not the
view we would want to have in this day and age. Allow him to stay and continue his
valued work, and think of the students for once.

 


From: Sylvain Rigaud
Date: Jan 5, 2009 5:03 AM
Subject: Suspension and dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock  
 
Hello Mr. Allan Rock,
 
My name is Sylvain Rigaud and I am nowadays a PhD student in France. I spent one year
in Canada in 2005-2006 and I studied at the university of Ottawa. During this year, I had
the opportunity to meet the Professor Denis Rancourt, not during one of its courses, but
during the numerous events he organized (especially during cinema politica series,
activism festival,…). The human exchanges I had with Mr Rancourt, but also with every
students I met during these events was one of the most interesting things I lived at the
University of Ottawa.

I write you today because I learnt that you plan to fire Mr Rancourt and I am really
disappointed to imagine that future students can not be live this experience…

sadly,
 
Sylvain Rigaud

 


From: caro wall
Date: Jan 5, 2009 1:23 AM
Subject: disapproval of the university’s plans to fire Denis
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde  
 
Hello, my name is Carolyn Wall and I am a student at the University of Ottawa. I have
met Denis Rancourt on a coupe of occasions and believe that, if anything, this man
should be moving up the university's hierarchal scale. I met him during one of his
organised Cinema Politica events and found that he was a very unique teacher who is
caring, personal and actually CARES about the people's education. I protest the
university's plan to fire Professor Rancourt and hope to see that the Board of Governors
hold a public meeting on the question. These days it is very hard to find people who are
true to themselves and to their values, who think outside of the box and are innovative
and productive; Professor Rancourt is one of these rare people and is a great inspiration
to many university students. It would be a great disappointment to see him get fired.  
 
Thank you for your time,
Carolyn Wall

From: sthom080 
Date: Jan 5, 2009 12:11 AM
Subject:  
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde  
 
President Allan Rock,

I am writing to express my disapproval of the university's plans to fire Denis Rancourt. In
firing Professor Rancourt you are dogmatically opposing academic freedom. As part of
the University of Ottawa Alumni, I request that the Board of Governors hold a public
meeting on the question. I feel it is essential that the University of Ottawa show support
for pedagogical freedom for professors instead of the standardization of teaching.
 
Thank you for time,
 
Stephanie Thomas

From: Michel Pilloud
Date: Jan 4, 2009 7:52 PM
Subject: Suspension et renvoi du professeur Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock 
Cc: claude.cde , dgr , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Bonjour Monsieur Rock, 
 
Je connais le professeur Rancourt et je pense qu'il se porte à la défense de la raison et de
la vérité.
 
Ce n'est pas une position confortable, mais je crois qu'elle doit être respectée si nous
voulons garder notre société de droit.
 
Je crois qu'il est important d'entendre des voix de personnes qui ne pensent pas qu'à leurs
propres intérêts à court terme comme cela se passe trop souvent actuellement dans nos
gouvernements et dans nos institutions.
 
Vive la liberté de parole et vive la liberté de penser différemment.

En tant que citoyen je m'oppose à toutes les tentatives de baillonner les gens qui ne
pensent pas comme les gens en autorité.
 
Michel Pilloud
Gatineau

 


From: W.J.Baltutis
Date: Jan 4, 2009 6:18 PM
Subject: Suspention of Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde  
 
Dear Mr. Rock
I am greatly disturbed to hear of the University of Ottawa's plan to fire Denis Rancourt.
Throughout my years at the University of Ottawa Professor Rancourt's 'activism class'
and his Cinema Politic provided a very formative and influential opportunity for looking
at political issues not covered in my other courses. Professor Rancourt's course and the
Friday night movie series is an extremely unique part of the University of Ottawa's
community, and a unique chance for community members to meet and have open
discussions. To do away with Professor Rancourt's activism course, his Friday night
cinema politic, and a committed member of the University of Ottawa teaching staff
would be extremely unfortunate. I urge the university to reconsider their decision to fire
Professor Rancourt and to listen to those who have benefited from Professor Rancourt's
contribution to the University of Ottawa.
 
Jesse Baltutis,  MSc
London School of Economics

From: Eve Wilensky
Date: Jan 4, 2009 5:56 PM
Subject: regarding Professor Rancourt
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde , Denis Rancourt  
Dear President Rock,
 
Denis Rancourt has had a tremendous impact on me. In my 6 years in university I have
rarely been as affected by a professor as I was by Denis.   
Denis was the closing keynote speaker at the Student’s for a Democratic Society’s
Conference last year at the University of British Columbia, which I helped organize.
Professor Rancourt inspired me to seek more from my degree and to become an active
member of the community not only on campus but within the city at large.
 
Professor Rancourt wants students to learn! He doesn’t want to contribute to the rat race
and merely add another automaton to the machine. He wants students to realize how
much power they hold within themselves and to get excited about it! 
I remember him speaking about how he asked one of his classes why the sky was blue
and when no one could answer him, he spent the rest of the class just trying to figure out
that one question. Denis wants education to be applicable to our real lives—enough
abstraction and critical analysis that’s divorced from reality! He wants to send his
students out into the world with practical knowledge and a sense of hope.  He respects his
students as equals and teaches with love, compassion and excitement. These are all
surprisingly rare qualities to find in a professor.  As we all know, professors are not
trained how to teach others, in fact, most are hired due to how much and where they have
been published. 
 
In his closing speech at the conference, Professor Rancourt asked, “how do you wake
up?” In order to create change in the world, he argued, we have to first wake up and see
the world as it is.  But really--how do you get jolted?

 

Professor Rancourt jolted me. He shook me with his words and woke me up.  I now know
that I have to move beyond my education and start putting words into action.  I do not
want to hide behind my mac book writing about atrocities or social injustice, I want to get
in there and actually do something.  This is something that university does not teach you.
It teaches you how to think critically, how to analyze, how to research—but leaves you
with no practical way in which to actively participate in the community. Education does
not lead to action, so Professor Rancourt says. 
 
I understand why Denis has come under attack from the university.  The university is a
big corporation with very set guidelines and goals.  Rancourt is rocking the boat and is
consequently being punished for it.

I must say that if the University of Ottawa, or Canada for that matter, is to live up to its
reputation of democracy, freedom of speech, respect for others, and forward thinking,
than to fire Professor Rancourt is surely a step backwards.  On your own website you
exclaim, “The world expects a lot from Canada and its institutions, and so do we,” so
please, do not disappoint- let’s show the world that we are at the forefront of progress and
liberal, open-minded education. 
 
Sincerely,
Eve Belle Wilensky
4th year sociology honours student, University of British Columbia

 


From: Aileen Duncan
Date: Jan 4, 2009 4:43 PM
Subject: Denis Rancourt
To: allan.rock  
Cc: claude.cde  
 
I have known Denis Rancourt for about two years, due to the fact our
radio shows on CHUO FM were after each other. During this time I have
gotten to know him, and have always perceived him as a brilliant
individual. I think his ways of teaching are innovative, and he greatly
contirubtes to the positive mood of CHUO. He is a source of inspiration
for me and myco-hosts. Therefore, I find it greatly disturbing that he
is suspended, to be fired.
.
I am in grade 12, and I was planning to apply to the University of
Ottawa this year. However, this is giving me second thoughts. I'm not
sure I would like to go to a school where good teachers are treated
unfairly. A teacher's political leanings should not be a factor in his
treatment by university administration.  
.
Sincerely,
~Aileen Duncan

 


 

Subject: Suspension of Professor Denis Rancourt
From:    "Aplin Nick"
Date:    Sun, 4 January, 2009 11:06 pm
To:      allan.rock 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Dear Mr. Rock
 
The news of the suspension hit me like a rock.

Having been a part time teacher at U of O in the 70s and 80s, and having got to know
about Professor Denis Rancourt and his reputation as an outstanding physics teacher at U
of O in the past few years, I find myself questioning why this might have happened. 
Unless something of real consequence has been concealed from the public about
transgressions by Professor Denis Rancourt, the suspension is without merit and can only
bring U of O into significant disrepute.

Please act to stop this suspension.  Please inform me of the reasons for this apparent
travesty of procedure.
 
Sincerely,
 
E. Nicholas Aplin, P. Eng. (retired)

Former teacher of 'Engineering with Wood'  - an elective course for 4th year Civil
Engineering students, between ~1975  and ~1990