August 20, 2001

Dr. Robert J. Birgeneau
University of Toronto
Simcoe Hall, Room 206
27 King’s College Circle
Toronto ON M5S 1A1

Dear Dr. Birgeneau:

It is with considerable disappointment that we read your letter of July 16, 2001, refusing to meet with CAUT regarding the University’s treatment of Dr. David Healy. We find it strange that you characterize the matter to be a purely internal one. Significant issues for faculty across the country are raised when one of Canada’s leading universities decides to abrogate a faculty member’s contract based on remarks he made in one public lecture. Even if it were an "internal" matter, the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) is a member of CAUT and has asked for our involvement. We were quite surprised that you could make the claim that this has "nothing to do with academic freedom". We feel it has everything to do with academic freedom.

We are equally dismayed by your suggestion that the problem was "a less than ideal search and assessment process". We have detailed records about the search process, and it was anything but haphazard and cursory. In July 1999, during his three-day visit to the University, Dr. Healy met with about 30 officials from the University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health including the Anxiety Disorders Group, the Vice-Chair for Research, the Head of the Neuroscience Program, the current and past Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, the Cognitive Therapy Group, the Anxiety Disorders Search Committee, the Depression Group, the Bipolar Group, and others. He also gave a public lecture. In addition, his lengthy list of publications was well known to the people in his field at CAMH and the Department of Psychiatry. There is every indication that the decision to offer him a position was made after thorough and careful scrutiny by both CAMH and the University of Toronto.

Your comment that causes us the greatest concern is the suggestion that hiring Dr. Healy would compromise patient care. This statement borders on libel. Dr. Healy is an internationally recognized researcher who has had for many years a very significant clinical practice. Your appeal to protecting "the most vulnerable participants in the whole matter - the patients at CAMH" is an argument not worthy of you. We continue to view the treatment of Dr. Healy by the University of Toronto and CAMH as a great academic injustice and one of the most serious violations of academic freedom our organization has encountered. We would have preferred to discuss this matter with you and see if there could be a satisfactory resolve. Unfortunately, you leave us no option but to pursue fairness for Dr. Healy in other fora.

Yours truly,

Thomas Booth

James L. Turk
Executive Director