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AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY
Wednesday December 20, 2000
On behalf of the University of Canterbury, I wish to apologise to the Jewish community for the hurt caused by a 1993 Master's thesis by Joel Hayward entitled "'The Fate of Jews in German Hands'." The University of Canterbury takes responsibility for its acceptance of this flawed thesis, and for the consequences, and is sorry.
We are currently talking constructively to members of the Jewish community and the Jewish Council about what we can do to make amends.
From the moment the matter was first drawn to my attention earlier this year, I was most concerned and my personal view then was that an apology was required. But as Vice-Chancellor I first had to wait for the independent review process to be carried out. Only in this way could we ensure that the different parties were treated fairly and their rights respected.
I want to make it perfectly clear, and I say this with absolute confidence: the University of Canterbury does not support Holocaust revisionism and the University does not harbour anti-Semitic feeling.
Over a long period of time the University of Canterbury has welcomed Jewish scholars and has provided a safe haven for scholars like Sir Karl Popper and others. There are Jewish scholars at the University at the moment and every year our Erskine Foundation and other endowments sponsor visits by Jewish and other scholars across the University. Many of our scholars are welcomed into Jewish centres of learning around the world.
The Working Party Report, adopted by Council, is an open and thorough academic review. It has found, and the Council has accepted, that the thesis did not deserve the highest accolade of first class honours. The Report also concludes that, while it demonstrated faulty research and lack of judgement, the thesis was not dishonest. This means that neither the thesis nor the degree can be amended, removed, downgraded or altered. This is what the law says.
But we will make sure that this Working Party Report is bound with the Hayward thesis so that the two documents will always be read in tandem. We are also doing our best to send the report to all those websites displaying the Hayward thesis and are asking them to include the report with it. Our own website - www.newsroom.canterbury.ac.nz - will display Dr Hayward's addendum to the thesis and the Working Party Report together for the next few months.
The University agrees that it should not have accepted the thesis towards an MA without far more scrutiny than was the case. Had the thesis been put forward today it would have been subjected to improved departmental and university processes.
Over the past few years a detailed process for checks and balances has been put in place to ensure that all research and academic endeavour follows proper and ethical guidelines. Departments now have post-graduate co-ordinators and committees for considering topics and supervisors and improved performance monitoring. Ethics committees are operational and the Dean of Post-Graduate Studies and the Academic Administration Committee are central monitors of process.
The cost to the University of the Hayward thesis Working Party Report and associated legal advice will be between $150,000 and $200,000.
These costs have been very hard to bear when the University is having to cut back on its budgets for next year by up to 3%.
However, this was not something we could ignore. We have to maintain the reputation for internationally recognised scholarship that the University has painstakingly built up over more than a century. Academic standards and reputations are at the heart of the University's work. The expenditure has enriched our systems, our standards and our academic process.
We could not stand by and let our University suffer from constant criticism and controversy. We had to take action. Commissioning an independent report was agreed by the Council as being the best solution.
The Council has decided it is now in the best interests of all those affected to release the report to the public, and to enter into open discussion with those affected about how we might now move forward and make something positive out of this unfortunate episode.
If you would like to know more about the independent Working Party Report, it can be read on our website - www.newsroom.canterbury.ac.nz - or you may contact the University Registry for a copy to be mailed to you.
Daryl Le Grew
Vice-Chancellor, University of Canterbury.