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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

UPDATE on Wilkie

TEL AVIV (Reuters):
Nuffield Professor of Pathology Andrew Wilkie was suspended for two months without pay on Monday after an investigation by the university into an email in which he refused to consider accepting Amit Duvshani, an Israeli military veteran, into his research group.

The Israeli student has welcomed the suspension of an Oxford University professor who rejected his application for graduate studies in a protest against the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians.

"I am satisfied that a decision has been made to take action against him," Duvshani, a researcher in Tel Aviv University's department of cellular and developmental biology, told Reuters on Tuesday.

"This is not a matter of personal vendetta, but of exposing academic boycotts against Israel as part of anti-Semitic trends in the world and specifically Europe," said Duvshani, 27.

Duvshani said he had decided "for reasons including this episode" not to pursue studies in Europe.
Full statement from Oxford
27 October 2003

A University spokesperson said: "The Vice-Chancellor has accepted the recommendation of the Visitatorial Board that Professor Wilkie should be suspended from his academic duties within the University, without pay, for two months. Suspension is the most serious penalty that the University can impose, short of dismissal or removal from office. The decision follows an investigation by the Board of matters surrounding an email which Professor Wilkie sent in response to an enquiry from an Israeli student regarding the possibility of graduate study in his research group. The Board has made other recommendations, including that Professor Wilkie is required to undergo further equal opportunities training.

"This ruling reflects that there can be no place for any form of discrimination within the University of Oxford other than on the grounds of merit. Professor Wilkie fully accepts the gravity of the situation and is determined to make full use of training to ensure that his actions and those of his staff reflect best practice in future. He particularly wishes to make it clear that he greatly values the diverse backgrounds of the staff and students with whom he works and looks forward to applications from able candidates, whatever their background.

"The University runs a comprehensive staff training programme which includes a number of programmes covering equality and diversity issues. It is also the University's practice to include a statement on equal opportunities with all contracts of employment and to circulate the University's policies and guidance. We will now be looking at the recommendations of the Visitatorial Board to see whether processes and training in this area can be further improved."

Notes to editors:

Statement issued by Pembroke College announcing the Resignation of Professor Wilkie

The proceedings of Visitatorial Boards are usually confidential. The text of this statement has been agreed by both parties and no further comment will be made.

Under the statutes of the University, the Vice-Chancellor is empowered to reduce penalties recommended by the Board, but cannot increase them. In this case, he has adopted the recommendations as made by the Board, and Professor Wilkie has been informed accordingly.

Professor Andrew Wilkie was appointed Nuffield Professor of Pathology in May 2003. Professor Wilkie has been instrumental in developing the Oxford Craniofacial Unit into a world-class centre for genetic research into craniofacial disorders and hopes to develop this approach to cover other facets of plastic surgery.

The University of Oxford began a thorough investigation as soon as it became aware of the correspondence between Professor Wilkie and Amit Duvshani. Based on the information that was collected during this process, and in the light of all the circumstances, particularly the importance attached by the University to fair processes of selection, the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Colin Lucas, took the view that this matter should be referred for consideration by the University's disciplinary panel for academic staff, known as the Visitatorial Board.

Visitatorial Boards are convened to consider charges against a member of the University's academic staff when the Vice-Chancellor considers that the alleged conduct or performance of that person may constitute good cause for dismissal or otherwise give grounds for some other disciplinary sanction. Each Board has five members – an external chair and four members who are selected randomly from an existing panel.