Chapela case - new update (2/5/2005)

May 2, 2005

Greetings from Tenure Justice!

In this issue:
1. Prof. Chapela announces his legal action against the Regents of the University of California. (press release).
2. Professor Chapela's last day of classes at UC and an update
3. The Academic Freedom cases that new Chancellor Robert Birgeneau handled while he was a Chancellor at the University of Toronto (a must read!)
4. How to donate for the lawsuit of Dr. Chapela against the Regents of UC.

1 . Berkeley, California, 18 April, 2005.
Lawsuit Filed Against the Regents of the University of California
A Statement by Ignacio Chapela:

"Today, I filed a lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California with the California Superior Court in Oakland. This legal action, entered on my behalf by Mr. Dan Siegel, contains three main claims relating to my 8-year-long history of relationship with the University.

"First, I claim to have been the victim of retaliation by the university for my role in exposing potential problems with the production and release of genetically modified (transgenic) organisms into the environment, as well as for exposing the insidious and illegitimate influence of commercial interests, inside and out of the university, in the operation of the University. This whistleblowing complaint exposes a scandalous and unacceptable level of compromise in the role and structure of the university, particularly in the biological sciences.

"Secondly, I claim to have been the victim of discrimination by the university with regards to the treatment of my promotion leading to the denial of tenure, as well as with regard to the highly irregular handling of my tenure review process. This claim again exposes deep and structural failure by the university to fulfill its mandate to represent and attend to the diversity of cultural, economic, ethnic, intellectual and political inhabitants of the State of California in its educational, research and extension functions.

"Thirdly, a claim of fraud states that the administrators of the University fail to disclose significant information about the criteria required to obtain tenure, since information other than scholarship is used to make such decisions.

"The filing of this lawsuit opens a new and more public chapter in the 8-year development of this case, which has received world-wide attention within and outside academia as a path-defining case study of the situation of public universities, the influence of private interests on public research and education, the limits on dissent in scientific research, and the suppression of academic freedom in our times. This case also highlights the role of biotechnology and the biotech industry in our society.

For the full document please go to:
For updates and commentary see: (edited by I. Chapela); , and

2. Prof. Chaplela's last day of class-

In December, Prof. Chapela held his last day of class. Over two hundred supporters marched to the office of the new UC Berkeley Chancellor - Robert Birgeneau - to deliver letters of support with the signatures of hundreds of academics and students at UC Berkeley. The Chancellor declined to meet with us but he surely heard the chants calling for "academic freedom" and "tenure justice". At the event, statements of support were delivered by UC Berkeley professors Tyrone Hayes, Carolyn Merchant, Andrew Gutierrez, Joe B. Neilands, Carlos Nunoz, Miguel Altieri, Jennifer Miller, and others.

The event was covered by the Associated Press (from which it was widely syndicated), The Daily Californian (front page), Berkeley Daily Planet (front page), The San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune (and three other affiliated Bay Area papers), and was mentioned in a longer article about Prof. Chapela's struggles in London's The Guardian. The author of one piece told us that he received more emails - all supportive of Prof. Chapela - on this than any other article.

Links to some articles:

Update of Prof. Chapela since December.-

Prof. Ignacio Chapela's embattled position at UC Berkeley - scheduled to end on December 31 - was been extended through the upcoming summer, thanks in no small part to the support that many of you have shown recently. After more than 200 people marched in his support after his last scheduled, the university administration has begun a new phase of review, taking the internal process of his tenure case behind close doors once again.

The administration seems, however, to be using confidentiality as a smokescreen for secrecy. The following official statement about Dr. Chapela’s tenure review case speaks for itself:
"Public comment by either party will be limited to the statement that Professor Chapela's P&T grievance has been resolved to the full satisfaction of both parties and that his candidacy for tenure will be reconsidered pursuant to a review procedure agreed upon by the parties."

It is important to make a distinction between Prof. Chapela’s grievances/legal action and the ongoing re-review of his tenure.

The Chancellor still has the opportunity to do the right thing and give Dr. Chapela his long overdue tenure, but he has even refused to meet with Prof. Chapela (Your ongoing support and letters to the Chancellor and the UC Regents letting them know how you feel about this are still very much needed).

Most importantly we are asking for a clear and simple statement from the new Chancellor, regarding his position and plan of action with respect to Prof. Chapela's tenure review process. It is important to point out that the recommendation made by the Privilege and Tenure Committee or any other body is still just a recommendation and the ultimate decision lies on the Chancellor himself. We want to let him know that he has the opportunity to chose academic freedom over corporate control of the public university system and to defend the public interest by granting Dr. Chapela tenure. He needs to know that people all over the world will be following this case closely and that he will be held accountable for his decisions.

3. Past Academic Freedom cases that new Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has handled-

For a story on two of the most notorious academic freedom cases, which happened at the University of Toronto under the direction of the now UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's go to:

Dr. David Healy:
Dr. Nancy Oliviery:

Regardless of the outcome, the university public relations message will probably be that 'the system works.' Yet it is clear that without the pressure from supporters of Prof. Chapela, he would have been unfairly denied tenure last year. The announcement of the lawsuit this past week started a new phase in the ongoing struggle to solve Dr. Chapela’s case conflict of interest and discrimination that he has endured in the name of academic freedom and corporate free science.

4. Donations are very much needed. Information about donating to the Pulse of Science Fund and the lawsuit of Ignacio Chapela against UC Berkeley can be found at:

We will keep you updated as the case unfolds.

In solidarity,
The Campaign for Tenure Justice


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