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CAUT Council imposes rare censure against University of Toronto over Azarova hiring controversy

University of Toronto

(Ottawa – April 22, 2021) Delegates to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council voted today to censure the University of Toronto because of the Administration’s failure to resolve concerns regarding academic freedom stemming from a hiring scandal in the Faculty of Law.

“When reviewing all the evidence, CAUT Council delegates concluded that the decision to cancel Dr. Valentina Azarova’s hiring was politically motivated, and as such constitutes a serious breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

The hiring process was abruptly aborted following concerns raised by a sitting judge over Dr. Azarova’s academic work on human rights in Israel and Palestine.  Facing mounting criticism, the University of Toronto commissioned an external review undertaken by Justice Thomas A. Cromwell, but whose mandate did not include determining credibility or plausibility.

“In a close examination of the facts of the case, CAUT Council found it implausible to conclude that the donor’s call did not trigger the subsequent actions resulting in the sudden termination of the hiring process,” notes Robinson. “The University of Toronto Administration could have re-offered the still-vacant position of Director of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) to Dr. Azarova.”

“The decision to censure was not taken lightly. It is a measure of last resort used only when we are faced with serious violations of academic freedom and other principles that are fundamental to higher education,” says Robinson.

Censure is a sanction in which academic staff are asked to not accept appointments or speaking engagements at the institution until satisfactory changes are made. Censure has been rarely imposed, last used for governance violations at First Nations University in 2008.  Read CAUT’s detailed procedures relating to censure here.


Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-222-3530;