Gentle reader, you may be thinking of undertaking a course of postgraduate study at the University of Auckland. If so, I suggest you read this recent correspondence between this author and the University of Auckland's Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor Caroline Daley. Since this is a complicated matter, I suggest you keep beside you this link
to a PDF of the University's Statute and Guidelines for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Another Art History PhD once thrust a copy of the Statute and Guidelines into my hand and told me to keep it with me at all times; it was the best advice I have received at this university.
Dear Professor Daley,
I am writing to you in your role as Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies. This email is an appeal, Under Clause 10a(ii) of the Statute and Guidelines of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, against a decision of the Board. I did not make this complaint within the usual three month period since I feared further victimisation by the University if I made a complaint.
I am now appealing against the Board's decision, described in the attached email by you of 19th December 2010, to note my 2010 annual report but neither to approve it nor reject it. Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not see any place in the Statute and Guidelines that allows the Board to merely note my report.
I object most strongly to the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee rejecting my report. That committee has no authority under the Statute and Guidelines or in any other capacity to approve, reject or even see my report. It is the Head of Department and the main supervisor who should consider the report. The Board was failing in its duty under the Statute. The Board also allowed my right to confidentiality to be breached.
I further object to the false reporting of my academic record. I discovered, some time after the Board had decided not to make a decision, that my record said my report had been accepted. This was a deliberate perversion of the truth. If the Board cannot make a decision, it should have the courage to say so.
Finally, I wish to object to the Board's failure to ensure that my report was properly managed. My Head of Department and the Associate Dean deliberately prevented me completing my section of the report - of responding to the fabrications made by my former supervisor. I was also denied supervision for a full academic year. The Board, which should have been prompting the HoD to provide my report, did nothing. Again, the Board failed in its duty. I suffered a year of harassment and a year without supervision because of the Board's inaction.
I provided detailed, written evidence to refute the claims made by my former supervisor. The Board should have considered this evidence and made a decision.
I wish my appeal and my objection to be made known to the Board and for my appeal to be considered. If you refuse to properly consider my appeal, I shall be taking legal action against the University.
Professor Daley's reply:
Mr Paul Litterick
Department [sic] of Architecture and Planning
Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries
10 May 2012
Dear Mr Litterick
Re: Appeal made under Clause 10a(ii) of the 2011 PhD Statute
In response to your email of 21 April 2012 I have considered your appeal as to registration (Clause 10a(ii) of the PhD Statute).
You state that you did not make your complaint within the usual three month period because you feared further victimisation by the University. However, I note that in your 2011 annual report, received by the Graduate Centre on 20 June 2011 (but signed off by you on 28 April 2011), both you and your supervisor state that your doctoral studies are progressing well. In your extension request, received by the Graduate Centre on 2 February 2012 (signed off by you on 24 January 2012) it is noted by your supervisor that you are making good progress. The extension request was approved. In your 2012 doctoral annual report, received by the Graduate Centre on 14 March 2012 (signed off by you on 6 March 2012) both you and your supervisor state that your doctoral studies are progressing well. The details set out above clearly indicate to me that, since at least April 2011, there has been no reasonable basis to support your claim that you feel that you are suffering or subject to any ‘victimisation’ from the University, yet you are now seeking to appeal a registration matter from 2010.
On the basis that you have not established grounds for your claim of victimisation in the period since April 2011, and over a year past the end of the normal 3 months allowed for an appeal is beyond any reasonable extension of the appeal period, I must advise that your appeal will not be considered.
Dean of Graduate Studies
See what she did there? Not surprisingly, my appeal has been rejected. Not that there was anything wrong with it; my appeal was rejected because it was too late. But had I appealed earlier, I would have taken the risk that my next Annual Report might be rejected and my PhD terminated.
Because I now have an excellent supervisor and Head of School who has not abused her power, unlike my previous supervisor and my previous Head of Department, Professor Daley insists I have no grounds to fear the University would victimise me had I made a complaint. Yet the University had victimised me for making a complaint. As things turned out, I was not victimised again. But how would I know that? Had I made a complaint to the Board of Graduate Studies, it might have victimised me. After all, the Board does not feel bound by the Statute; it might do anything. But now, I have completed my last Annual Report, so I am relatively safe.
This is what happened when I first made a complaint. I complained to the Dean of Arts about the Head of Department of Art History, Dr Caroline Vercoe. My complaint was one of unlawful discrimination. I made this complaint because Dr Don Bassett, my then PhD supervisor, told me that I had been turned down for a position tutoring his students because of my age and gender - a clear case of discrimination; Dr Vercoe was the chair of the selection panel for that position; Dr Bassett and Dr Robin Woodward were the other two members.
Not only did I make a complaint to the Dean of Arts, but I told Dr Bassett that I no longer wanted his supervision, which is reasonable, give the circumstances. Dr Bassett accepted my decision.
Dr Bassett then wrote my annual report, despite having been on sabbatical for the second half of the year and thus unavailable to supervise me. His report was not pleasant. Dr Vercoe responded by refusing to allow me to reply to this report, as I was entilted to do - in fact, required to do - by the rules for Annual reports. Not only was I denied the opportunity to respond, I was denied supervision and told I must write a 10,000 word chapter before I would be considered for supervision. I refused. Dr Vercoe had no right to make such a demand, no right under the Statute.
As it turned out, I received no supervision during that entire academic year. Dr Vercoe - with the connivance of Associate Professor Lee Wallace, the Associate Dean (Postgraduate) whose responsibility was to administer the annual reports - victimised me. The Dean of Arts looked on and did nothing; the Board of Graduate Studies did nothing. Caroline Daley knows this: it was only when she took up the post of Dean of Graduate Studies and intervened in this matter that I was given the opportunity to leave Art History and go to Architecture, given the opportunity, that is, to have the supervision to which I was entitled. She has also made enquiries into what the Department of Art History did; she has taken action, although she won't tell me what her enquiries revealed or what action she took.
Not only did Dr Vercoe breach her responsibilities under the Statute, but my fate was put in the hands of the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee, a body that has absolutely no statutory authority whatsoever. By which I mean, doctoral supervision and reporting are governed by the Statute and there is no provision in that document for a Postgraduate Studies Committee to interfere in the reporting process. The reporting process is the concern of the candidate, the supervisor, the Head of Department, the Associate Dean (Postgraduate) and the University's Board of Graduate Studies.
Now, as the estimable gentle reader Peter of Dundee has argued, Postgraduate Studies Committees can be a force for good; but my point is that the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee has no role, no right to be involved. Despite this, the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee was allowed to interfere and to prevent me receiving a report, getting a new supervisor and leaving the Art History Department. Eventually, I was allowed to complete my annual report: to comment on the remarks that Dr Bassett had made about me, to make my own comments. But then, the Department of Art History's Postgraduate Studies Committee rejected my report. Must have been something I said.
Worse still, Caroline Daley supports this involvement. On 13 December 2010, she wrote to me thus:
1. What authority does the Department of Art History's Postgraduate Studies Committee have in this matter?
Clause 5 of the PhD Statute (2008) outlines the Annual Review of Registration process (5 d). There is no requirement under the Statute that departmental postgraduate studies committees are involved in this process. However, the practice in Art History is that the departmental Postgraduate and Research Committee considers all doctoral annual reports and provisional reviews. It is common across the University for such committees, or sub-committees, to do so. The intention, supported by international Higher Education research, is that the involvement of people other than the candidate and main supervisor in such processes leads to better educational outcomes.
"There is no requirement under the Statute," she says. No, it is more than that: there is no mention of such committees in the statute; the committee has no statutory existence, no right to exist, let alone be involved, let alone to prevent a PhD candidate receiving supervision. But then, Professor Daley thinks "the involvement of people other than the candidate and main supervisor in such processes leads to better educational outcomes." Professor Daley talks a lot of flannel like that.
The Committee was not even authorised to see my report, yet it did so and it rejected it. And, because of this rejection, the Board of Graduate Studies chose to avoid making a decision. Yet the Statute rules that they must make a decision.
To put that last point another way, the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee had no right to accept or reject my report, yet rejected it; while the Board of Graduate Studies was obliged to accept or reject my report, yet made no decision.
How about that?
Worse still, the Board of Graduate Studies attempted to hide it cowardice - its unwillingness to stand up to an unauthorised committee and to do its duty - by falsifying my academic record. I found this had been done some time later, when a copy of my record was sent to me by a member of the administrative staff of the Graduate Centre. The record said my report had been accepted.
The Board of Graduate Studies has not apologised for breaching the University Statute and for falsifying an official record. It has done nothing. I was obliged to make an appeal, because that is the only statutory right I have. I am obliged to act within the terms of the Statute, even when the University's statutory body is breaching it.
And the Board, how does it respond? It responds by finding an excuse to avoid responding, a procedural means of avoiding responsibility. These men and women on the Board are some of the University's most senior staff, but they lack the courage and integrity to take responsibility for their inaction.
So, gentle reader, this is my warning to you. Should you chose to undertake postgraduate study at Auckland University, be aware that none of the rules really applies, none of the guidelines will guide you anywhere, none of the many Postgraduate policies, guidelines and forms
is worth the downloading. The University will do what it likes. Or it will do nothing. Whatever suits.
Yo La Tengo: