Morris Wolfe - Essays, New & Selected


The Arthurs Report confirmed that there was misappropriation of authorship by Tom Sankar and Srikanta Swamy and that there were conflicts of interest in a number of Seshadri Sankar’s CONCAVE contracts. A forensic audit authorized by Sheinin and the new dean of engineering — Dean Swamy had been squeezed out of office by Sheinin in the spring of 1993 — revealed extensive financial irregularities on the part of all three men. The two Sankars denied any wrongdoing; they were acting in accordance with the prevailing ethos, they said. Swamy described himself as a “victim.” But all three men were forced to leave the university.

“Too often,” the Arthurs Report noted, “university honours, research grants and industrial contracts are awarded on the basis of numbers of publications, rather than on their quality and significance. Obviously, this does not mean that the work of all prolific scholars — including those at Concordia — is without significance or merit. We mean to suggest only that there are strong pressures to be prolific, that those pressures may in turn lead to the adoption of strategies for being as prolific as possible, and that some of these strategies may promote undesirable behaviour.”

“We have confirmed the validity of a number of Dr. Fabrikant’s more specific allegations,” the report conceded. But it went on to remind the reader that Fabrikant’s allegations were in no way motivated by concern for the public good. They were the “ultimate revenge” of a desperate man. “We take no pleasure in acknowledging that [this document] lends support to so malevolent a purpose and credibility to so unsavoury an individual,” the report concluded.

Fabrikant, it’s now clear, was surrounded not only by people who had a dubious sense of right and wrong but also by human frailty. He was in the employ of a flawed, fractious university, with a celebrity chief officer, hostile senior managers, an impotent campus-support apparatus, and academic colleagues who were often too apathetic or greedy or scared or dainty to blow the whistle. In a community that didn’t keep its head, the worst occurred.

Today, he sits in Montreal’s Donnacona Prison, accusing the authorities of persecuting him, and working on his research, assisted by a former graduate student who is convinced that Fabrikant is a misunderstood genius and who feels honoured to serve him in any way he can.

—Saturday Night , July/August 1994
—Lingua Franca , May/June, 1995

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