President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has issued this response in conjunction with his release of a report on the Israel/Palestine "Mapping Conference" held at Glendon June 22-24, 2009.
Last July, I asked former Supreme Court Justice and University of Toronto President Emeritus Frank Iacobucci to review our experience with the conference “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace” (the “Mapping Conference”) and to make recommendations for the future. I committed to releasing his report upon its completion. Justice Iacobucci has now submitted his final report and I am pleased to release it to the community.
Justice Iacobucci’s role was not to make findings of fact or to assign responsibility; rather, he was asked to consider how we might learn from this experience, guided by the principles and commitment to academic freedom set forth in my two public statements on the subject last spring. In his comprehensive report, Justice Iacobucci notes the many challenges that were faced by the organizers of the event as well as by the University; he also notes the University’s firm commitment to principles of academic freedom, as reflected in my two public statements, and that, despite controversy, the conference proceeded as intended by the organizers. Having reviewed this experience, Justice Iacobucci concludes that there would be no purpose served in undertaking a further inquiry or review of the Mapping Conference. I agree with and adopt this recommendation.
Justice Iacobucci does recommend the need for a forward-looking, collegial discussion aimed at identifying the core values associated with academic freedom at York University and to develop a statement of best practices. I believe such a process would be very timely, given that our aspiration to be a more engaged university means that as we move forward we will likely encounter different views of what values underlie academic freedom, and what might constrain it.
I am committed to following his recommendations, and I have asked the Senate Academic Policy Planning & Research Committee (APPRC) to provide leadership in this collegial exercise. I understand that APPRC has agreed to strike an ad hoc working group to lead a positive collegial dialogue on principles relating to academic freedom. I look forward to participating in this dialogue.