Archaeology UWA -newspaper article March 6

Bob Tonkinson (tonkinso@UNIWA.UWA.EDU.AU)
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 10:01:15 +0800

The Higher Educational Supplement of the national newspaper, The Australian,
ran an article earlier this week on developments concerning Archaeology at
UWA. The reporter has emailed to UWA his article in its original from. He
notes that part of the second paragraph in the actual published version was
altered by a subeditor, so he has sent the original.
I hope that this posting will clarify for readers on both the anthro-l and
the arch-l nets some of the complex issues involved here.

Rindos documents biased: UWA
by Ross Storey
The Australian, March 6, 1996

A contentious parcel of 329 documents, tabled in State Parliament about the
University of Western Australia Rindos-Archaeology affair, as 'absolutely
selected' to present a biased view, according to the university.

UWA executives told the HES this week that the parliamentary package was
'nowhere near all the documents' and there were at least four more boxes of
material which would be re-examined by the new university Senate inquiry
announced last week.

The brief of the fresh inquiry, involving four university Senators not
associated with the previous investigations , is to re-examine the failure
to grant tenure to archaeologist Dr David Rindos, and allegations concerning
the former archaeology department, to confirm whether due process had been

The Western Australian Parliamentary Commissioner - the Ombudsman - is also
investigating whether proper process was followed and natural justice
afforded to archaeologist Dr David Rindos, who blew the whistle on student

The University has consistently denied any connection between the denial of
tenure and Dr Rindos' actions in highlighting allegations of misconduct
against former archaeology head Professor Sandra Bowdler.

Three of UWA's most senior officials - vice-chancellor Fay Gale, Deputy
vice-chancellor Alan Robson, and Registrar Malcolm Orr - spoke exclusively
to the HES to brand the tabled material as 'a selection of documents
designed to place a particular slant on events'.

Labor MLC Mark Nevill tabled the 329 documents in December and has presented
them to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Government Agencies, which
meets later this month to consider whether to call a full inquiry.

The UWA executives said Mr Nevill had denied Professor Bowdler natural
justice by failing to interview her before making the allegations public in
a speech to

Professor Robson said that the Hotop-Clyde inquiry into the allegations was
a thorough one involving 42 submissions.

"More than three quarters were supportive of Bowdler but none of the
submissions are contained (in the tabled package), only the critical
missions," He said.

Professor Gale said the parliamentary package also lacked any of the
critical material submitted to the Hotop-Clyde inquiry relating to Dr David
Rindos, the archaeologist denied tenure at UWA.

The vice-chancellor denied that the Hotop-Clyde inquiry had been restricted
in its scope or suffered from a circumscribed brief.

"It was not nobbled... the terms of reference were absolutely open,"
Professor Gale said.

"They asked me whether it could be confidential and the only reason the
report has not been released is because I gave them a guarantee that they
had that cover.

"I have followed all of their recommendations exactly.

"All of those who wrote to the first inquiry, to the first review (of the
department of archaeology) were asked whether they wished to submit and
everyone knew there was an inquiry."

Professor Robson again rejected claims that the review of the Department was
prompted by internal problems associated with Professor Bowdler.

"We ought to get it quite straight.

"No one can find any of that sort of correspondence relating to the
establishment of that review.

"That review was established as part of the normal review process.

"Professor Oxnard (head of the division of agriculture and science which
oversaw the archaeology department) is on record as having told the
department of archaeology 'this is a normal departmental review' and I've
been told that by three or four people within archaeology."

Mr Orr said Professor Bowdler was disciplined in 1992 and had had an
impeccable record since.

"It's important to understand that she was relieved of her department and
was put in a position where she was under close monitoring by the head of
Anthropology, which is continuing to this day.

"The evidence as a consequence of that monitoring makes it absolutely clear
that she has behaved impeccably, that she is increasing the number of
students going into archaeology and increasing the number of students who
are going to her for PhD work.

"Therefore, given that the vice-chancellor's responsibility as chief
executive officer is the welfare of the students, the management of the
department and the academic processes, her dealing with Bowdler has resulted
in a totally positive outcome."


Ross Storey - Tel: (09) 339 3972; Fax: (09) 319 1121.
StoreyWorks Media - 'Helping the Media to help YOU'. -
Robert Tonkinson
University of Western Australia
Nedlands, W. AUSTRALIA 6907.
Phone: (61) (0) 9 380 2858
Fax: (61) (0) 9 380 1062