Memo to Press from UWA VC's Office (fwd) on the Archaeology Affair

Hugh W. Jarvis (hjarvis@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Tue, 5 Mar 1996 21:44:23 -0500

Here is a memo the University of Western Australia Vice Chancellor's
Office released to the press in response to recent comments and
questions made in Parliament (about which I have already posted).

I will follow this with a second message which contains correspondence
between me and the Vice Chancellor's Office. I decided to separate
them so that neither would get lost in the shuffle.


Hugh Jarvis


Date: Thu, 22 Feb 1996 17:26:18 +0800
From: Christine Lewis <>


Dr Rindos and The University of Western Australia

Former University academic Dr David Rindos was denied tenure in 1993
because his research performance was significantly below that normally
expected of a Senior Lecturer in the University. His probationary
contract was consequently allowed to lapse.

Recent press reports have erroneously attempted to demonstrate a direct
causal relationship between problems in the Department of Archaeology in
1990/91 and the subsequent decision taken after due process not to grant
Rindos tenure.

There is no connection between these two matters.

In April 1991 the University established guidelines for the review of
academic departments as part of its policy of linking together strategic
planning, departmental performance, and budget allocations. Since then
some thirty-eight departments have been reviewed. Archaeology as selected
for review in 1991 on the grounds that it was relatively new and small. It
was the fifth department to be reviewed using this policy.

The Review Committee completed its report in December 1991. The Report
contained twelve recommendations the first of which was that "as a matter
of priority the Vice-Chancellor investigates the management practice in the
department". The Report additionally recommended "that the Vice-Chancellor
resolves the divisions that have developed within the department" and
"investigates the purportedly inequitable behaviour within the department".
The major division in the department had been cased by a developing
dispute between the Head of Department, Professor Bowdler and Dr Rindos
over his work as Acting Head during her absence on study leave. In the
course of its investigations the Review Committee had received several
submissions from staff and students concerning a range of matters. In
accordance with established procedures laid down the Review Committee's
Report was submitted to the Planning and Resources Committee of the
University's Academic Council on 20 February 1992 which resolved that it be
transmitted to the Vice-Chancellor for implementation.

Acting immediately the Vice-Chancellor wrote to Professor Bowdler on 24
February asking her to stand aside from the Departmental Headship pending
further inquiries of matters raised in the review. On 28 February the
Vice-Chancellor commissioned Professors Clyde and Hotop to provide her with
"advice on what further action, if any, should be taken in this matter",
having regard to the Review Report and submissions from students sent to
her following the Review's enquiries. Some submissions concerned alleged
unsafe work practices, interference with research and lack of departmental
support. However most of the submissions were very supportive of Professor
Bowdler. No formal complaints of sexual impropriety in relation to
Professor Bowdler have been received by the Vice-Chancellor or by the
University's Equity Office.

The Clyde/Hotop Report advised the Vice-Chancellor that while some of the
allegations made against Professor Bowdler were of concern, they would need
lengthy and thorough investigation if they were to be substantiated. The
Vice-Chancellor then consulted an external legal industrial advocate who
advised her that even if the allegations could be substantiated it would be
unlikely that disciplinary action could be initiated under the relevant

The Vice-Chancellor subsequently questioned Professor Bowdler in the
presence of her Union representative for more than an hour and a half and
advised her of the general nature of the complaints raised against her.
The Vice-Chancellor instructed Professor Bowdler to submit without delay a
full response to all the matters which had been raised. Professor Bowdler
did so and was able to satisfy the Vice-Chancellor that there were no
grounds for pursuing a case of misconduct. The Vice-Chancellor concluded
however, that there had been problems in the management of the Department
of Archaeology and subsequently transferred the responsibility for
Archaeology to the Department of Anthropology.

20 February 1996