Does Corporate Support of Universities Threaten Academic Freedom?

April 24, 2008 :: Dr. Andrew Hakin, Dr. James M. Byrne, Dr. Ian McKenna
Moderated by Myrna Green

Today’s public universities in Canada and across the globe are intended to serve the public interest. While public universities in Canada are funded by provincial and federal governments, freedom in determining teaching curriculum and research shielded the institutions from the dictates of governments and private interests.

The substantial reduction in federal funding of Canada’s universities over the past two decades has triggered a new threat to their independence in teaching and research. The shortfall of public money has opened the door to corporate funding of university teaching and research and to other forms of commercialization.

The speakers will discuss the challenges of commercialization of Canada’s universities and some of the methods employed to prevent excessive influence of private corporate interests.


Dr. Andrew Hakin is a graduate and member of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was awarded a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom 1987. Dr. Hakin joined the University of Lethbridge in 1989, and later served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Presently, he is the Vice President of Academics at the University of Lethbridge.

Dr. James M. Byrne is a multidisciplinary scientist and associate professor at the University of Lethbridge, with training in earth and atmospheric sciences and engineering hydrology. He is a founding member of the Canadian Water Network (CWN) and served as National Theme Leader in Water Resources Management and a member of the CWN Research Management Committee 2000-04. Dr. Byrne is the lead scientist and producer of the 2002 award winning Global Change three-part Television series; and served the same role for the seven part TV series Water Under Fire broadcast on five Canadian networks.

Dr. Ian McKenna is an Associate Professor in the University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Management. He teaches courses on law and management, law and corporations and industrial relations. He was a professional officer of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) in the 1970s and an elected member of the CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, including two years as Chair in the late 1990s. He is a former Treasurer of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association.

Date: Thursday, April 24, 2008
Time: Noon - 1:30 PM
Location: Ericksen’s Family Restaurant (lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S.
Cost: $10.00 (includes lunch)

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