Peter Rathjen: Serial sexual predator, pedophile protector, and manifestation of all that is rotten at the University of Adelaide? [Update July 20, 2020: Rathjen resigns due to "ill health"]

Peter Rathjen is a well known biochemist and molecular biologist, and, most recently, was a Vice-Chancellor and president of the University of Adelaide in Australia. Earlier this month, however, he was forced to step down when he became the subject of a misconduct investigation by South Australia's Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC.)

ICAC investigations are normally top secret, with serious penalties for journalists or individuals who divulge confidential information. Although the inquiry has been widely reported in the Australian press, as far as I know only The Australian has provided a reason for it: That Rathjen had engaged in "a personal relationship with a staff member." (Depending on where you access this article, it may be behind a paywall.)

(Just 24 hours earlier, the university's Chancellor, Kevin Scarce, resigned his position. While the reasons are still unclear, there are no allegations of misconduct being reported as of yet.)

Although I have talked to sources at the university, I cannot claim to know more than that at the moment, as information concerning the matter has been closely guarded. I do, however, know something about Rathjen's long history of alleged misconduct, which includes chronic and widely known sexual harassment at the University of Adelaide during his earlier tenure there as a professor and department chair; a misconduct case at a major Australian university which found him guilty of sexual assault against a student; and, while Vice-Chancellor at the University of Tasmania, his alleged protection of the notorious pedophile Nicolaas Bester, who re-offended while a PhD student at UTAS.

Rathjen first came on my radar last year when I was reporting on the case of Alan Cooper, formerly chief of Adelaide's ancient DNA center, who has since been fired for misconduct. A number of women who had been at the university during Rathjen's earlier tenure there (1990-2006) approached me, concerned that Rathjen would be making the final decision about Cooper's fate. At that time, I was told by multiple sources, Rathjen had developed a well known reputation as a sexual harasser. The sources included individuals who had directly experienced this behavior.

The Alan Cooper case revealed that misconduct, including bullying and sexual harassment, had been tolerated at the University of Adelaide for many years. Thus, while complaints against Cooper were made to the university administration beginning in 2006, the first full year that he was in charge of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), administrators ignored them until last year, when survivors of the abuse finally began to go public. Media coverage in the Australian press, along with major scientific journals such as Science and Nature, made it impossible for Adelaide officials to continue covering up for Cooper, despite the major prestige that ACAD had brought to the university.

(Cooper is currently appealing his firing, and a hearing on the matter is expected around July. University staff have been interviewing and re-interviewing many of the original complainants to get their case ready.)

Faye McCallum

Bullying and nepotism in the School of Education, abuse of staff at the Adelaide Dental School.

Soon after I began reporting on Alan Cooper, sources within the university began to approach me with allegations of misconduct in other schools and departments. The first such case concerned the head of the School of Education, Faye McCallum. Again, multiple sources testified to an atmosphere of bullying and harassment in the school; in August 2018, the National Tertiary Education Union NTEU), which represents employees in Australian higher education, was forced to write to Jennie Shaw, executive dean in the faculty of arts, because no action against the numerous complaints of bullying, overwork, abuse, and questionable staff appointments had been taken despite numerous complaints. Unfortunately, on May 15, Shaw announced that McCallum had been given a two-year extension of her appointment as head of the School of Education. That fight goes on.

Meanwhile, very similar complaints have arisen in the world-class Adelaide Dental School, which over the last few years has seen its autonomy eroded by the edicts of university administrators. Earlier this year, NTEU conducted a confidential survey which included questions about health and safety, bullying, and confidence in senior school and faculty management. About 80% of staff gave negative responses, according to an April 6, 2020 letter from Cheryl Baldwin--division industrial organizer for the NTEU's South Australia division--to Benjamin Kile, executive dean of Adelaide's Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. I have considerable documentation of the alleged abuses and will be reporting on them in more detail soon.

Grace Tame

Peter Rathjen: Sexual assault, protecting a pedophile, ---?

As I mentioned above, during Rathjen's tenure at a major Australian university, he was found guilty of sexual assault against a student. As this is a very sensitive matter, kept strictly secret, I am not identifying the university in question to protect sources. I hope to be able to say more soon, but there is no doubt about the truth of the matter. Australian academic culture, like the academic culture of most countries, is rife with retaliation and threats of retaliation. The level of fear about speaking out is quite high, especially as Australian science is still largely ruled by an old boys' club in which women (and many men) are the subject of constant intimidation.

This brings us to the case of Nicolaas Bester, one of Australia's most notorious pedophiles. Bester was convicted of grooming and sexually assaulted a 15 year old girl, Grace Tame, while a teacher at St. Michael's Collegiate School in Hobart, Tasmania. In 2011, Bester was sentenced to two years and ten months in jail for his crimes. But due to archaic Tasmanian laws (also enforced in Australia's Northern Territory) that purport to protect victims but actually mask the identity of abusers, Tame had to wait nine years before she could speak out about what happened to her. With the help of journalist and anti-sexual assault advocate Nina Funnell, Tame scored a historic win in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, winning the right to identify herself and name her abuser.

(Funnell wrote a number of articles about the Bester case, including one in which Bester claimed to have been the real victim.)

Bester later entered a graduate program in chemistry at the University of Tasmania (UTAS.). And in 2016, while a PhD student there, Bester was sentenced again to four months in jail for remarks he made on social media about his abuse of Grace Tame, including calling his abuse of her "awesome" and "enviable." A judge ruled that this behavior amounted to the production of child exploitation material online, which seems a reasonable decision at the very least.

Enter Peter Rathjen again. After Bester served his new jail sentence, he returned to the University of Tasmania campus, where Rathjen was Vice-Chancellor, to continue his PhD work, unimpeded by any action from the university administration. That failure to protect students led, in spring of 2017, to a petition campaign calling upon the university to ban him. The campaign was led by the UTAS Women's Collective, and ultimately gathered more than 1600 signatures. "Myself and many others are incredibly disappointed with the University of Tasmania for not removing Nicolaas Bester from campus," said Heidi La Paglia, a member of the collective who started the petition.

The university refused to take any action. According to my sources, Rathjen was instrumental in the decision to allow Bester to finish his graduate work. But both he and Bester had their supporters. Chief among them was the well known Australian barrister Greg Barns, an advocate for prison reform and staunch defender of Julian Assange. In a Twitter exchange with me after he saw my social media posts on Rathjen and the Bester case--in which he accused me of engaging in a "sleazy trial by media campaign"--Barns praised the former UTAS Vice-Chancellor, saying that "Rathjen behaved impeccably and in accordance with the rule of law and fairness."

To sum up simply: It appears that Peter Rathjen has been involved in sexual misconduct, both as an abuser and an enabler, for most of his career. There may be some irony in the fact that his career will probably end in Adelaide, where his reputation as a serial sexual predator first began.

There will be more to say about this soon, and I will post updates here.

Update July 20, 2020: Rathjen resigns.

Peter Rathjen has resigned, supposedly due to "ill health," while still under investigation for serious misconduct. I won't comment on his health issues, other than to say that his abuse of women, over  his entire career, caused ill mental health to many.

Here is Chancellor Catherine Branson's announcement to the university community. Some readers of this blog might have comments on how well Mike Brooks,  who has been serving as acting Vice-Chancellor in Rathjen's absence, has upheld the university's purported principles of fair treatment of students and staff over his years as an administrator at the university.

Resignation of Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen AO Dear Colleagues I am writing to inform you that the University’s Council has accepted the resignation of Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen AO, due to ill health. The University extends its appreciation for the contribution Professor Rathjen has made since taking up the role in 2018. Professor Mike Brooks has been Acting Vice-Chancellor since Professor Rathjen was granted leave of absence in early May 2020, and I am grateful to Professor Brooks for the seamless continuity of leadership he is providing to our University community. The University will make an announcement about the search for a new Vice-Chancellor in due course. In the meantime, our focus will remain on the continued delivery of high-quality teaching, learning and research, supporting the State’s social and economic needs, and responding to the challenges faced by our community from the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Kind regards Cathy -- The Hon. Catherine Branson AC QC Chancellor Office of the Chancellor and Council Secretariat The University of Adelaide, AUSTRALIA 5005 Ph: +61 8313 5668 Fax: +61 8313 4407 Email:

Post a Comment


Mike Briggs said…
University of Adelaide also mentioned on Retraction Watch:
The JBC retracted the paper, but UoA administrators have different standards.
Anonymous said…
Why do you have a photo of the assault victim in this post, and why are you naming them? This seems inconsistent with your desire to support victims (which I have no doubt is genuine). It also seems very unfair and unnecessary.
Michael Balter said…
Grace Tame came forward proudly when she was finally able to and willingly had her photograph published in a number of publications in Australia. She is aware of this blog post. Those are the only conditions under which I would name and show a victim, when they willingly want to be identified.
Anonymous said…
There is much that the corporatisation of universities has allowed to happen. In this case there has clearly been a lack of due diligence in Rathjen's appointment. It happens frequently when universities "buy in" supposed high performers, back them up with massive funding support - how can you fail, unless a complete idiot - then realise they have a cultural cancer in their midst, with a history they never bothered to investigate. Of course their previous institution was very glad to get rid of them and said nothing in any references.
Michael Balter said…
In Rathjen’s case a long history of sleeping with students, sexual harassment, and at least one case of sexual assault.
Anonymous said…
Michael, you have started cultural revolution in Adelaide and some other Australian Universities which is long overdue. The rot goes right to the top and the whole system needs cleaning inside out.
Anonymous said…
University of Adelaide has a history of rewarding incompetent, corrupted people like Peter Rathjen. Just look at a these people. Professor Michael Brooks has been appointed in various roles of Pro Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost over 10 years – this makes you wonder what he knew about the rotten culture and if he is somehow responsible for it. Next thing, he becomes Interim Vice Chancellor when Rathjen steps down. Enter Professor Jennie Shaw, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, who is a protector and promoter of bully, Faye McCallum. She gets to become Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic). Lose all hope!
Anonymous said…
If there was a case of sexual assault would he not be facing criminal charges? There seems to be a lot of accusations without proof here.
Michael Balter said…
In response to the last comment. I don't know who you are, so I don't want to automatically conclude you are naive. But do you really think that more than a small percentage of sexual assault cases get to court and a criminal process? If so, you are battling against the research that shows this is not the case. In the instance of the sexual assault Rathjen committed, it was covered up by the institution involved, although there was a finding that he was guilty. I hope that helps.
Anonymous said…
Yes, though it may yet come to pass that he does face criminal charges if, as may the particular institution, when the ICAC investigation findings are known.
Anonymous said…
Let us hope. There are many at U. Adelaide who are hoping information about Rathjen's behaviour at previous institutions comes out in the ICAC probe. Not just about Rathjen, but the weak examination of him in his appointment process and lack of probity and action within the University. I think, in the end, very few in senior management will be found with clean hands.
Anonymous said…
Emeritus Professor Alastair Burt, who arrived from Newcastle to become Dean of Medicine and then Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in Adelaide for >5 years, is the Father of All Bullies. Hired to implement Professional Staff Review (PSR) by his superiors to downsize the faculty, he implemented it so ruthlessly that it even alarmed other Executive Deans. They quickly learnt a lesson on how not to manage! Burt was protected by higher authorities (Deputy Vice Chancellors, Provost, Interim Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor) so Professor Michael Brooks has a lot of explaining to do! Eventually, Burt’s bad behavior caused so many problems to the Vice Chancellor that the university decided not to renew his contract. He is now Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University and Director of ADB Health Solutions. Who were his right hand people and what did they know? Do they have blood on their hands? Need answers from Natalia Hubczenko (past Faculty Executive Director of Health Sciences but moved to South Australian Health after contract was terminated) and Judity Magery (past Acting Head of Nursing School who was removed when the majority of school staff cast a vote of no confidence in 2019). Now everyone has to clean the rot that Burt left behind.
Anonymous said…
Adelaide staff and students should no longer be complacent to abuse, bullying and harassment. Make a collective effort. Talk to colleagues in your school and other schools. Start documenting all the cases of abuse. Bring abusers to justice. IN UNITY, THERE IS STRENGTH. CHANGE IS HERE.
Anonymous said…
While I have no respect for an institution that covers up Rathjen's (and others') behaviour, and given his guilt at previous institutions, it would be a positive outcome if Adelaide sued said former institution on the grounds of failure to disclose potential criminal behaviour. This would certainly raise future due diligence around appointments.
Anonymous said…
My question is - how DO you stop the rot? It is obvious even to us in the lower echelons that something fishy goes on up above, but how can we do anything? What is required is a total clean out of all the top heavies and start again with people that have real vision and integrity and not just words that feed their egos and get them into these positions. I have worked at UofA in an admin role for over 20 years I could certainly recommend several real and honest academics that have both the ability and the vision to ensure true change.
Anonymous said…
Totally agree with above comment regarding disclosure!
Anonymous said…
Re disclosure, there have been many cases of litigation against referees who gave false or misleading references, either positive or negative. The problem is, I don't believe universities ask for references any more, and certainly don't call for references including the answers to specific questions. Re more appropriate people in charge, it's become the realm of corporate-minded people who could not make it in the real corporate world. A great Opinion piece from Elizabeth Farrelly in The Age, look at how universities have become corporatised and academics marginalised, though does not cover the role of government policy much. If you want to see how this corporatisation will manifest itself as a result of Covid-19, very few Australian universities will dig into liquid assets or sell physical ones to minimise staff losses. Staff are replaceable commodities. I think Marshman's and Larkins' analysis that found low risk exposure of some universities, achieved by using saved cash or selling property, etc. was a little naive.
Anonymous said…
Crikey cites "The appropriateness of a personal relationship between vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen and another staff member, and whether that impinged on the execution of his duties, is reported to be behind the investigation", with a link to The Australian newspaper. If the investigation is limited to something like preferential treatment and/or HR decisions, then it is unlikely that any previous behaviour will come into the spotlight. The ICAC integrity survey held in March, across all three South Australian universities might have been a catalyst. Outcomes due August.
Anonymous said…
Looking forward to the ICAC report. Just look at the report of the South Australian public services from 2019 - the South Australian Health was the worst performer with 51% of respondents experiencing bullying and harassment (

These are also worth reading.

Some people were caught by surprise by ICAC integrity survey and investigation on the Vice Chancellor this year.
Anonymous said…
Indeed. Poor due diligence is one thing but to ignore his behaviour when previously at U.Adelaide is tantamount to criminal negligence!
Anonymous said…
So true. Perhaps HR and senior managers can get away with anything. Look at these links - revoke funding and punish HR for wrongdoing and the system will fix itself.

Nareen Young - "Victims of sexual harassment don’t get the support they deserve. I’m looking at you, HR industry"
Anonymous said…
Looks like they appoint and protect VC's via the same process as Hugh Court Judges.
Anonymous said…
"While I have no respect for an institution that covers up Rathjen's...behaviour, and given his guilt at previous institutions, it would be a positive outcome if Adelaide sued said former institution on the grounds of failure to disclose potential criminal behaviour."

In response to this, it's entirely possible that Adelaide Uni would have to sue itself...
Unknown said…
Yes very interesting,
I found out during Rathjen's time at UTas that my Program Director (teaching), was actually imprisoned, banned, and ruled "unsuitable to teach" for peadophilia in Queensland soon after I left the campus in the 000's because I thought the course was bad (I also had other documentary evidence & audit reports to add. The type of thing thats pretty common probably at an obscure uni like UTas), but anyway I asked Rathjen to refund my HECS and he said no, anyway seems relevant.....
Anonymous said…
I'd laugh ouf loud, but something like that might happen. A new Chancellor, with support of the Council, could sack and sue all senior management implicated in the mismanagement and protection of Rathjen, Cooper, and any other bad seed.
Anonymous said…
Why would the university sink so low if the Council had done its job? Reform should start with the Council, Human Resources and Senior Managers at university, faculty and school levels. All the wrongdoing must be documented and publicized. How many bullying and harassment complaints are received by the university each year and how many are decided in favor of the complainant? Almost zero?? Surprise surprise!!! If this is not true, Adelaide should set the records straight. But they will not, for obvious reasons.
Anonymous said…
University councils have no role in operations, so they only know what they're told by the VC. Elected academic and student representatives have long been disenfranchised by corporatisation and rumour of any wrongdoing is all they can go by unless someone comes forward officialy. Those "electeds" would normally feel vulnerable in our now fully corporatised system. It takes someone like a Drew Pavlou (most courageous young person in Australia IMHO) at U. Queensland, willing to risk everything, to bring serious issues and behaviour to light. The level of institutional harassment Pavlou has experienced is worthy of a "Balter-esque" investigation - student raises issue of UQ allowing and complying with foreign government influence, VC getting $ reward from said foreign government, foreign diplomat made Adjunct Prof, diplomat inciting violence against student, said diplomat being investigated by Queensland police for same, law suits both ways.....stay tuned.
Anonymous said…
This is a serious problem in the University of Queensland which is now under investigation by a corruption watchdog. So the university no longer allows its students to publicly support Hong Kong or criticize the Chinese Communist Party?

From the Courier Mail "UQ execs referred to watchdog over corruption claims: The University of Queensland’s two highest-ranking executives have been referred for investigation over claims of corruption and failure to disclose foreign influence by lawyers representing embattled student activist Drew Pavlou..."

Anonymous said…
Adelaide - what and when did Richard Logan and Cindy Molloy know about bullying and sexual harassment by Sam Gue? Deleted emails in university server will answer some pertinent questions. Logan is a Dental Board member (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and AHPRA is investigation Gue? Logan and Gue co-supervised students and co-authored many papers. No.
Anonymous said…
Adelaide seems to be a historical hotbed of these behaviours - and of poorly dealing with such. Read covering up.
Anonymous said…
University of Adelaide seems rife with management who steals credit and slaps their name on papers written by others, thereby perpetuating their "elite status" which means they get away with treating post-docs and PhD students poorly by belittling them and giving them all the undesirable, unpublishable, work which severely hinders their career. The head of the new institute of the University at Lot 14 is a poor director, a non-inclusive leader who doesn't lead by example, and an inadequate researcher. But it suits the University to pretend the Emperor's clothes are fine.
Anonymous said…
Just the tip of the iceberg? There must be more cases of mismanagement in the rotten culture. The supervisors of these incompetent people should be held accountable.
Anonymous said…
But that's the classic strategy of the rankings-hungry system. Hire supposed high flyers to boost "research excellence", give them a pile of start up and let them get away with anything as long as the output numbers and grants keep coming. This is nearly all in an area where the institution has little or known track record. The "let's buy performance" ploy. They NEVER help bolster existing researchers, who have been performing for years, and on whom reputation and great working culture has been built. Almost always find out later that these massively self-citing and bullying buy ins, have destroyed culture, careers and continue demanding more cash support. Of course there's no chance of admitting error, just keep trumpeting (often inflating) success and keep throwing money at them. Meanwhile, the real engine room of research performance - PhD students, post-docs and ECR's - suffer. Again corporatisation, mediocre academics in senior management positions on massive salaries, government policy and the chase for the $ are the root causes. Plus the overarching mechanisms that take over in a stressed ecosystem. In our human-created environment, we're fortunate the result isn't literal cannibalism.
Anonymous said…
The comment from July 13, 2020 at 7:16 PM is spot on. The Vice Chancellor's strategy of "A Magnet for Talent" at the expense of everyone else....... So this is where endless squeeze for funding to other schools comes from? Look at how one of their talents have turned out in the end.

The University of Adelaide was founded on 6 November 1874 with the support of Walter Watson Hughes and Thomas Elder. One wonders what they would think of the way it is run today.
Anonymous said…
At the Adelaide Dental School Staff Forum held on Tuesday 26th May, 2020 - a rare event - Benjamin Kile (Richard Logan's supervisor) said he fully supported Logan. Logan is invincible......
Anonymous said…
As former DVC Research, and now acting VC, Mike Brooks has been overseer of the likes of Cooper, etc., and was worked closely with Rathjen. Cooper and others aside, what did/does he know about Rathjen? I'm sure a lot. If so, he is as culpable, during and after the fact for doing nothing.
Anonymous said…
Check out Adelaide's organization chart
How top heavy can you get? Layers of DVC'c and PVC's of all kinds, looking like cabinet ministers. Faculties isolated through the Provost, which was Brooks under Rathjen. Bet none of this will change when the Covid Cuts start!
Anonymous said…
The chain of command is - Vice Chancellor - Chief Operating Officer - Human Resources Director. So Human Resources is not independent. And should Mike Brooks be accountable for what Executive Deans and Deans did not do to protect the victims of bullying and harassment?
Anonymous said…
Looks like they've started looking for a new VC already. Probably engage another expensive headhunter consultant who will provide due negligence before the announcement that begins with, "After an intensive global search and highly competitive selection process....". It should continue with, "....we have appointed Blah Blah, about whose workplace behaviour and integrity we know little, beyond what they've told us. We didn't bother seeking feedback from previous employers or direct reports. After all we're paying them over a $ million a year, so they must be good, right?"
Anonymous said…
Prof. Peter Rathgen has now resigned

Professor Peter Rathjen has resigned as vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide, citing ill health.

His resignation was announced by chancellor Catherine Branson QC on Monday “The university extends its appreciation for the contribution Professor Rathjen has made since taking up the role in 2018,” she said.

Anonymous said…
As someone who is outside Adelaide University, but has a long-term connection especially with the Faculty of Health Sciences, it is disappointing to see the things that have been going on.
The recent issues with Peter Rathjen and Sam Gue really only reflect the fact that it is only in recent times that women have felt safe raising these issues. People who knew Sam Gue as a student are surprised that things did not end badly for him back in the mid-1980s. Since then, as he has moved into more senior positions, there have been lots of examples of female postgraduate students who have been treated very badly and withdrawn for the clinical training program that he has run. When others have offered to support them to pursue some sort of justice, they have insisted on the matter not being pursued out of fear for their reputations and careers. Added to this, the prevailing culture in clinical training programs has commonly been very inappropriate.
In recent times the broader issues in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences have resulted in the development of a “toxic culture”. This seemed to have coincided with the appointment of Alastair Burt as Executive Dean and Natalia Hubczenko as Executive Director.
The circulating stories of the difficulties that the Deans/Heads of the Schools had working with these senior faculty people are hard to believe. Early on in his tenure Alastair Burt, with no real consultation, centralised all of the administrative support for the Schools with the loss of most of the corporate knowledge and all of the day to day operational support for staff and students. Who knows what was going on within the Schools, but in fairly quick succession the Faculty lost the majority of its it’s Heads of School/Deans. Professor Braunack-Mayer (Public Health) and Professor Kitson (Nursing) were both very highly regarded academics who left to take senior positions in other Universities.
The situation around the Dean of Dentistry (Professor Richards) is a bit more mysterious. The public statements about the termination of his contract indicated that he had chosen to return to his teaching, research and clinical practice, which he appears to have successfully done. The private stories are that he was very highly regarded by both staff, students and the wider dental profession and had refused to resign despite unrelenting and unreasonable pressure from Alastair Burt and so his contract was terminated without any real reason every being offered. Publicly at least that seemed to be end of the matter, but it is rumoured that Professor Richards did attempt to raise issues about Alastair Burt’s behaviour though a formal Code of Conduct complaint. Nobody seems to know what happened to that complaint, but there is a story circulating that somebody did overhear a private discussion between university HR staff in which one person, referring to this case, seemed pleased with the fact that the University had recently successfully “defended” its 40th consecutive code of conduct complaint. That alone is evidence of the sort of culture that pervades the organisation.
Since then Alastair Burt and Natalia Hubczenko have departed and a new Executive Dean (Ben Kile) has been appointed, but whether or not things will improve is yet to be seen. The recent departure of the Dean of Medicine (Professor Symons) under mysterious circumstances is perhaps an indication that things are not getting better.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for reporting in this! Lots of people have many stories about Uni of Adelaide, but are too afraid to speak up because they're worried about their jobs.
Anonymous said…
Could it be that the antisocial, elitist and strongly hierarchical culture that afflicts Adelaide University has its origins deep in Adelaide's elite private schools? Would be interesting to map which senior staff attended where and see if a pattern emerges. Membership of the Adelaide Club could be another risk factor. Maybe this isn't only an Adelaide University problem, but an Adelaide problem more broadly.
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately it is systemic, across the university landscape. The overlooking and covering up of inappropriate and criminal behaviour, is part and parcel of expedient senior management practice. Defend and protect offenders, often with more funding, rather than address and admit errors in judgement (especially in the appointments process), and try to do better. Give me leadership who are prepared to be transparent and honest about decisions, and take quick action on poor behaviour. Yes, I know, I'm dreaming.
Anonymous said…
Yes, fear is the thing. Especially now with most, if not all, universities cutting staff rather than delve into the savings thise staff helped build. Disgraceful.
Anonymous said…
The Uni settled with Alan Cooper a few weeks ago, prior to the hearing, I believe.
Anonymous said…
There's some speculation about Mike Brooks here. As far as I know, Mike is in that position because he's the brother of the billionaire Rodney Brooks, not because he's part of a sleazy cover-up.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for bringing things to light.

The middle management is bloated at Adelaide Uni with the people playing politics and power brokers with ambitions to rise to the top, and those eager to please. The bloating is so bad that universities are not providing education and spending money on educating students, teaching staff are forced to deliver courses and told to teach massive classes with no resources but Rathjen et. al. team expect staff to pass students.

It only got worse under the culture set up by Peter Rathjen and the club of people that played the game to get promoted under him in Faculties.

Universities should not need to pay CEO salaries to positions of prestige and positions of service, in doing so you attract all the wrong people.

People like Rathjen have been allowed to create the so called "clubs" where strategic alliances is the way to the top.
Anonymous said…
To the commentator from July 21, 2020 at 3:20 AM: It is hard to believe that Mike Brooks did not have a role in contributing to the culture that it is now. He held very senior positions. Look at previous comments.

"Professor Michael Brooks has been appointed in various roles of Pro Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost over 10 years – this makes you wonder what he knew about the rotten culture and if he is somehow responsible for it".

"Burt was protected by higher authorities (Deputy Vice Chancellors, Provost, Interim Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor) so Professor Michael Brooks has a lot of explaining to do! Eventually, Burt’s bad behavior caused so many problems to the Vice Chancellor that the university decided not to renew his contract..."

After all, Mike Brooks was managing Alastair Burt and other Executive Deans. When Burt used some underhanded deal with the past Dentistry School Manager, Lesley Steele, to terminate Lindsay Richards' contract as the dentistry dean, Mike Brooks just authorized it. No questions asked. This coup brought in Richard Logan and look at the state of the dentistry school now. Talk about bullying and cover ups for sexual harassment.

When things go seriously wrong under a leader, they are ultimately responsible for those actions. If you ask who should be responsible for cover ups of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault at universities for years, they should be deans, executive deans, deputy deans, provost, vice chancellors, human resources and other managers responsible for cover-ups.

In over 10 years, Mike Brooks did not know about any of those problems? If he knew, did he do his best to tackle them? You do not have to be a rocket scientist to work that out.
Michael Balter said…
Re the last comment: I was told by a number of colleagues that Mike Brooks was one of the main protectors of the now terminated bully Alan Cooper, formerly director of Adelaide’s ancient DNA center.
Anonymous said…
Alastair Burt decided to get rid of Lindsay Richards because Lindsay stood up for the dentistry school. Burt was unfairly taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars of funds from the dentistry school to cover for deficits somewhere else. Rural teaching budget should trigger memories for some people...... Burt needed a reason and with the help of loyal lieutenant created some dubious reasons to recommend termination of Lindsay's contract. Without asking a single question, Mike Brooks approved it.

Under Burt, the world famous Colgate Australian Clinical Dental Research Centre (CACDRC) was closed. This was a crown in the jewel for the dentistry school but its director, Emeritus Professor Mark Barold, stood up for the school and criticized the Executive Dean (Justin Beilby) and the Vice Chancellor (Warren Bebbington) for incompetence and mismanagement. The higher authorities did not like this and forced the well-performing research center to shut down. Mark is still a world renown academic (Member of the Order of Australia; IADR Distinguished Scientist for Research in Periodontal Disease 2015; & Editor of the Australian Dental Journal).

The dentistry school is still riding on the world class status created by researchers like Mark Bartold and other prominent scientists who have now retired or left. There are very few in the dentistry school who can even do any research. Check in 5 years - the facade will have completely collapsed. Check if Richard Logan will go down in history as the school's worst ever dean protected by Ben Kile.
Anonymous said…
It is so very sad to read the above comments, which I believe are correct. Unfortunately the rich and powerful seem to be immune to the laws of the ordinary person and so it continues. There are still some very excellent professorial academics at the Uni who could and would do a much better job than what has occurred in the past 10-20 years, but that would entail an almost total clean out of the top positions, starting with a fresh slate and not bringing in some new high flyer VC whose only goal is to add another step on his rung to higher grounds - does the new Chancellor, Catherine Branson, have the integrity, grit and staying power to oversee such large task? One can only hope......
Anonymous said…
Chancellors are only act on the information they receive. If that information comes through the filter of a tainted senior management, what can Branson do? The key will be the choice of VC who can work with Branson to start fixing the culture and removing the rot. If they appoint another self-server or worse, internally, they are lost for another 10-20 years.
Anonymous said…
Totally agree. Moreover, the new VC will need to engage with the rank and file, not simply rely on an already-dubious lot of management to carry out the plan. Otherwise those managers will protect those that support their status quo and good people will go. Especially during the job cuts to come this year.
Anonymous said…

Comment on July 21, 2020 at 3:57 PM - *Jewel in the crown (not the other way around)

Another prominent figure, Emeritus Professor Grant Clement Townsend (16th June, 1950 – 25th May 2019), Member of the Order of Australia (AM) & Recepient of the 2016 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Craniofacial Biology Research, was treated very poorly by Alistair Burt, Richard Logan and other managers. Grant's view was that the current dean was an incompetent manager who would say nothing or very little at meetings. When Logan was asked why he would not try to stand up for the dentistry school, he said he wanted to be dean one day. Speaking up would have hurt his chances of becoming the dean. Fast forward few years and he becomes a puppet dean who is willing to bully people below him and please people above him.
Anonymous said…
The previous chancellor was aware of many serious problems. He did not act on them.
Anonymous said…
Met Rathjen a few times at one of his previous appointments. He did not think many of us in the faculty were fast enough or productive enough. I hope his forced retirement, brought on by his own behaviour I am sure the inquiry will find, is as uncomfortable as he made us feel.
Anonymous said…
This is the way Rathjen worked - a sort of pervasive, almost-silent but oppressive bullying, making for extreme discomfort.

Why do we get people like this? Why, when they have left a trail of destruction in one place, do they somehow pop up in another - with the same or better position - as if their past ineptitude, bullying and/or misconduct never existed?

In Australia, there are two main reasons which have been slowly descending on the University sector for the last 30 years: (i) The corporatisation of education. (ii) The kowtowing by senior management to the Federal Government. VCs used to believe in and act for their own staff as their primary concern. Staff were considered assets - people to be managed and encouraged. There is barely a VC now fitting this profile. All - or almost all - are first and foremost government lackeys. As a result, we've now had nearly a decade of staff being viewed, first and foremost, as liabilities.

With the change in VC profiles, has come the gradual, inevitable change in almost every position of the senior management teams. It has now reached down to Faculty Deans, and is becoming firmly entrenched even at Head of School level. As someone pointed about above - these people manage exclusively up to the people above them. Their care, concern, and consideration for, and their encouragement of, the people below them - the people to whom, in reality, they should be providing management - is dwindling towards extinction, and in many cases is not even thought about.

Let's hope getting rid of Rathjen sparks revival of, and support for, the good things in Australian tertiary education. At the moment he represents a sick (and sickening) beast in a badly ailing herd.
Anonymous said…
It’s not just him there are a bunch of others who follow in his foot steps at this university bullies and sexual predators. The enquire should be extended, all the professors and management at this University.
Anonymous said…
This is the panel that selected Peter Rathjen as the Vice Chancellor of Adelaide, according to Kevin Scarce's email on 16th December, 2016.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), Chancellor
Professor Ian Young AO, immediate past Vice-Chancellor of ANU
Professor John Williams, Chair, Academic Board
The Hon Catherine Branson QC, Chair, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee
Ms Christine Locher, Chair, People and Culture Committee
Mr David Hill, Member, University Council

Anonymous said…
This is from Kevin Scarce on 30th May, 2017.

Announcing the new Vice-Chancellor

It is with great pleasure that I can inform you that our next Vice-Chancellor and President will be Professor Peter Rathjen.

Today’s meeting of the University Council accepted the recommendation of the selection panel, following consideration of an excellent and diverse field of individuals who had applied for the position.

In our deliberation, we were very mindful of the considered input from many alumni at the forum I held in early March, to hear your perspective as to what you saw we needed to look for in our next Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Rathjen has an extensive track record in forging meaningful external relationships, an exceptional grasp on the public policy landscape for higher education and demonstrated track record in transformative leadership.

For Professor Rathjen, this is somewhat of a homecoming, having studied at the University of Adelaide, as well as carrying out his first research and leadership roles here.

Professor Rathjen is an internationally recognised genetics and stem cell researcher who graduated from the University of Adelaide, before being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.

He is currently Vice-Chancellor at the University of Tasmania, having been in that role for six years. Prior to that, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Melbourne.

He worked at the University of Adelaide from 1990, including in leadership roles as Head of the Department of Biochemistry from 1996, Foundation Head of the School of Molecular BioSciences from 2000 and Foundation Executive Dean of a new Faculty of Sciences from 2003.

In his time in Tasmania, Professor Rathjen is recognised for having established strong outward links with the State Government, industry, community and alumni.

He has led an ambitious building program, and has developed and recruited a cohesive executive leadership team.

Peter has expressed great excitement about the opportunity to strengthen the University of Adelaide’s place as a world class university for the next generations of students.

The panel couldn’t imagine a person better placed to lead us at this challenging time for the tertiary sector. Professor Rathjen will build on the University’s extraordinary success and trusted brand, by developing a strategy of continual growth.

Professor Rathjen will take up the role in early 2018.

In the meantime, I want to thank Prof Mike Brooks, for continuing in the role as Interim Vice-Chancellor.

There is much to be done over the coming six months to ensure the University remains in a competitive position.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd)
Office of the Chancellor and Council Secretariat
Division of the Vice-Chancellor and President
Anonymous said…
Some of the problems strike the chord with University of Queensland
Anonymous said…
Events within the university are being investigated by a QC, outcome due in August. The university appoints a QC as Chancellor in mid July. Coincidence or strategy?
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the link. Not only should Hoj go but his Companion of the Order (AC) of Australia should be revoked. Then he'd be free to receive his Order of July 1st from the CCP.
Anonymous said…
Commonalities between Peter Rathjen and Peter Hoj: Both are biochemists. Both have gained media attention for all the wrong reasons. Both have strong origin in South Australia before taking up Vice Chancellor's roles interstate - Peter Hoj was the previous VC of University of South Australia. Both are outwith reality and have become bad managers.

Rathjen' Officer of the Order (AO) of Australia should be revoked too. What about Chancellors affiliated with their wrogdoing, and all their partners of crime down to the level of school management? Clean up the rot inside out.
Anonymous said…
I have know Peter Rathjen for quite a long time - since the 80s. So a couple of comments - he is very intelligent - that is why he was a Rhode's Scholar - you don't get to have that honor if your stupid. He ran a lab at U of A but not much came of it - retrospectively I think he realized that being incredibly intelligent did not mean you could become famous in science - and besides it doesn't pay that much - so he decided that politics/admin was the way he should proceed. He was appointed as a lecturer at U of A in the Dept of Biochemistry and when an opening came up for Head of the Department Peter was masterful - he realized that this was an opportunity for him - but he was young - early 30s at the time - if he didn't become head he would languish for many more years while a new Head made his/her mark - so he worked with the committee - especially with his phD supervisor Bob Symons to deep 6 the obvious candidates - nobody was really aware of this at the time - such was Peter's mastery of the art of deception - but surprise surprise no one else made it through the process and then Peter was asked to be the interim head and then the Department Head was his!!! His political career was all set in place so onward and upward. So Peter was good but also unscrupulous and very motivated to climb the ladder of success. While he was smart he was actually only an OK scientist and I think realized that science was a bit of a crap shoot and one might be smart but might be left in mediocrity - so politics was the way to go - I don't think I have ever met a more arrogant person than Peter - there was a saying in his lab - "God developed the world in 7 days - but Pete thought of it first"

Well thats enough for now but more to follow - his personal life - well only if anyone is interested in that?
Anonymous said…
Yes. Why is it that VC's, like senior public servants and ex-politicians, get awarded Australian Honours simply for doing their job - badly in most cases, but their well-paid job nonetheless?
Michael Balter said…
This comment was mistakenly rejected so I am cutting and pasting it here.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Peter Rathjen: Serial sexual predator, pedophile p...":

This is the way Rathjen worked - a sort of pervasive, almost-silent but oppressive bullying, making for extreme discomfort.

Why do we get people like this? Why, when they have left a trail of destruction in one place, do they somehow pop up in another - with the same or better position - as if their past ineptitude, bullying and/or misconduct never existed?

In Australia, there are two main reasons which have been slowly descending on the University sector for the last 30 years: (i) The corporatisation of education. (ii) The kowtowing by senior management to the Federal Government. VCs used to believe in and act for their own staff as their primary concern. Staff were considered assets - people to be managed and encouraged. There is barely a VC now fitting this profile. All - or almost all - are first and foremost government lackeys. As a result, we've now had nearly a decade of staff being viewed, first and foremost, as liabilities.

With the change in VC profiles, has come the gradual, inevitable change in almost every position of the senior management teams. It has now reached down to Faculty Deans, and is becoming firmly entrenched even at Head of School level. As someone pointed about above - these people manage exclusively up to the people above them. Their care, concern, and consideration for, and their encouragement of, the people below them - the
Anonymous said…
I have direct experience as a senior academic under Burt - he destroyed the culture of my School via the PSR and it will never recover. The Head of our school was powerless to withstand his bullying and predation. Good riddance. As to the current situation - we're doomed.
Anonymous said…
A correction to my previous comments on Peter. He did his Honors year with Bob Symons (not his phD) - he did his phD in Oxford thanks to his Rhodes' scholarship.
Anonymous said…
The majority of the dentistry staff share the sentiment of Anonymous from July 23, 2020 at 6.44 AM. Burt destroyed the dentistry school and other schools in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. He pushed aside internationally renown researcher Mark Bartold and Grant Townsend. He brought in an incompetent dean who has got rid of more capable academics. Look at the research leadership in the school now.
Anonymous said…
What? Branson on the panel and chair of audit, compliance and risk? Holy faeces, it will be business as usual!
Anonymous said…
So the new Chancellor was on the appointment panel, council member with responsibilities that include advising on risk. Seems to me they have no intention of cleaning up house but, instead, maintain secrecy and protect each other. What a farce.
Anonymous said…
With Branson's appointmdnf as Chancellor, it points to keeping everthing in house and secrecy controlled. You can bet the new VC will also be internal, i.e. Brooks. All protecting each other. Any external would ask uncomfortable questions.
Anonymous said…
The university management is really the big boys' and girls' club that has lost touch with reality. This statement by ABC in 2011 sums it all, "The Australian Human Rights Commission says in the world of the web, cyber bullying is an abuse of human rights... Catherine Branson QC, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, says the damage caused by cyber bullying can last a lifetime." ( Yet, bullying is rife in Adelaide and victims are gaslighted. As Chair of the Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee, does she know what is really going in her own university? This is very sad. Many victims' lives have never been the same. Refer to comments by Anonymous from July 20, 2020 at 4.46 am: "... but there is a story circulating that somebody did overhear a private discussion between university HR staff in which one person, referring to this case, seemed pleased with the fact that the University had recently successfully “defended” its 40th consecutive code of conduct complaint." This is probably true and the Chamber of Secrets should be reopened.

Alan Cooper's case was a rare event where the bully was fired. The university was forced to do so because Nature carried out an independent investigation, and both Nature and Science published it. Michael Balter was the journalist who broke the news and nothing would have happened without his intervention.
Anonymous said…
Beware anyone at Adelaide (or any other institution) who raised their heads and stood up on these issues of bullying, harrassment, etc. You can guarantee you will be on lists of people to go when Covid-cutting starts. It will not be a transparent process and performance will not be a consideration.
john tons said…
We can also look to John Howard's 'reform' that defunded the student unions around the country. In 1972 when at flinders University I introduced and edited the very first Counter Calendar. That first edition brought to light a couple of academics who gave students better grades if they slept with them. As the inaugural editor, I brought this to the attention of the administration - swift action was taken. Neither staff member was reappointed and I suppose the message went out to all academics. The idea of a counter calendar was picked up by many other universities and they were still being published until John Howard banned compulsory union fees. The counter calendar was not a silver bullet but it did foster greater transparency - when administrations can hide behind a cloak of anonymity it creates uncertainty among both staff and students.
Anonymous said…
Richard Logan, the current Dentistry Dean, is affiliated with:
1. Systematic bullying of many many dentistry staff
2. Political coup of previous dean who tried to stand up for the school
3. Unsuccessful attempt to close down Bachelor of Oral Health program - did a lot of collateral damage to a whole lot of people & misled the whole school in doing this ("BOH staff were not qualified enough to teach in BDS (Dental Surgery) program" - just check other dental schools)
4. Failing to protect pediatric postgraduate students from bullying and harassment over years - What and when did he really know?? What are the lies and cover ups?

Abuses are still happening under Ben Kile's watch. Kile says Richard has his complete support. The sage continues.
Anonymous said…
The failed BOH review should be publicized. The reason (lack of workforce demand) to shut down the program was a sham; they just wanted more money. The school makes +++$$ from international dentistry students than BOH students. People have the right to know what shocking documents and dodgy data were used as evidence. Not to talk about serious conflict of interest - the dean should have known! The botched attempt destroyed some people's careers. Staff are still treated poorly. Yet, Ben Kile says the dean is doing a great job.
Anonymous said…
This is from Emeritus Professor Grant Clement Townsend (16th June, 1950 – 25th May 2019) from 2017.

Professor Mike Brooks
Interim Vice-Chancellor and President
The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
26th August 2017 (with comments added 13th September)

Dear Mike
As you know, I recently transitioned to an Emeritus role after 50 years in the School, as an undergraduate student, postgraduate student and, from 1977, a member of the academic staff. I feel privileged to have been part of The University of Adelaide and have enjoyed my life as a dental academic immensely, apart from the last few years.
The outstanding reputation of the Adelaide Dental School has been based on the quality of its staff and, up until the late 1990s, the fact that it was a separate Faculty of Dentistry that largely had control over its own destiny. Of course, there have always been budgetary issues to cope with but the combined vision of an outstanding group of academics and the opportunity to make decisions following robust, collegial and informed debate at departmental and Faculty meetings led to a highly innovative BDS curriculum and an outstanding research environment that have been internationally and nationally acclaimed.
Unfortunately, given the current structure within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (in which Dentistry is one of several schools), combined with the personality traits and style of management of the present Executive Dean, the Dental School has lost virtually all control over its own destiny. The Dean of the School is expected to ‘toe the Faculty line’ and essentially act as a ‘rubber stamp’ for often uninformed decisions made at the Faculty level. Staff from our School and from other schools in the Faculty expressed their concerns about the management of our Faculty in the most recent Your Voice survey. I would ask that you review these responses as, if any academic had received such damning evaluations from students about their teaching, I think they would have given up. However, as far as I can see, nothing has been done to address the concerns raised.
I’ve listed below some of the decisions made by Senior Management over the past few years that have severely affected the School’s reputation and the quality of its teaching and research. The damage that is occurring to the School is not acknowledged by the Executive Dean but, rather, shrouded by positive spin and propaganda. It is true that our current world ranking amongst dental schools and our ERA ranking for research are high, but these measures are based on past efforts and I am sure they will not be maintained in the future unless the School is given back some control over its own destiny. Morale within the School is very low and many staff are not prepared to speak out for fear of retaliation.
Six issues that have severely affected the School in recent times are: [THE DETAILS ARE NOT INCLUDED HERE BECAUSE OF SPACE LIMIT]

The School’s budget
The Tender
The closure of the Colgate Centre and loss of its Director
The sacking of our Dean
The lack of succession planning

Many staff in the Dental School have spoken with me and said that are too scared to speak out in any forum in the University about what is happening to our School. The School is also losing its cohesion internally.

Questions for the VC:

Does the University want a world-class dental school? Is it prepared to support it?
How can we influence Faculty decisions within the current management structure and given the personality of the Executive Dean?
How can we gain some control over our own destiny? – the vision and actions of our staff enabled us to became a great Dental School but we are now sliding into mediocrity.
Is there any likelihood that more autonomy, especially for budgetary issues, staffing, and teaching and research initiatives, might be given to Schools in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, rather than the present micro-management from the ED?

Yours sincerely

Emeritus Professor Grant Townsend
Anonymous said…
The Vice Chancellor met with Emeritus Professor Grant Townsend and said he would definitely follow up on those issues, but the school has continued to decline.

Grant's notes of meeting with the VC on Monday 18th September, 10.30 -11.00am:

I handed the VC a copy of the letter I had sent previously, along with the added comments in red type.
I thanked the VC for seeing me and said that I had a sense of despair at what was happening to the School and the lack of any meaningful discussion within the School and in the Faculty about the issues I had raised.
I summarised the main points made in the letter and the VC took detailed notes.
I emphasised the lack of any control over our destiny and the present management structure (both within the School and in the Faculty). I pointed out that there were no regular meetings of staff in the School to discuss issues and no explanatory emails etc. from the Dean or the ED.
The VC stated that it was his belief that the heads of Schools were the most important people in the University and they had a pivotal role in explaining at a discipline level what was going on clearly and transparently to staff and in providing leadership and support to staff. I said this was not happening and that the ED saw the Dean as a member of his team and expected him to do what he says. He said he would follow this up and he would also reiterate his beliefs at the upcoming School meeting.
We agreed that the University will never make Dentistry a separate Faculty but the School must have some control over its own destiny, e.g., budget, staff, curriculum
On the issue of succession planning, the VC said that there were currently 4 professorial positions up for filling, including the Dean’s position. I said I was unaware of this and I thought most of the School would also be unaware. I pleaded that the School be involved in these appointments and that the appointment of the Dean was critical – it needs to be a person who places the University’s and the School’s good ahead of their own and is prepared to stand up to the ED.
The VC had spoken prior to our meeting to the DVC (Research) who had told him that research in the School was propped up by a small number of staff and that many staff did not meet the research criteria for academics. I said that this was a superficial analysis that failed to take account of teaching and administrative workload pressures on staff. The performance of the School needs to be viewed overall (ie, teaching and research) and some staff will contribute more in one area than another. The VC agreed with this point of view.

The VC noted that the outcome of the partnership agreement with SA Health was always likely to benefit them more than us (given the overall environment at the time) and I gave him some examples of where the outcomes have been less than satisfactory. He noted these.

I re-emphasised the micro-management of the School by the ED and he noted this.

He thanked me for my honesty and said that he would definitely follow up on the issues raised in the meeting and in my letter.

I re-iterated that the School would slide into mediocrity unless something was done soon.
Anonymous said…
A link to your Balter's blog came from Inside Tasmania who reported:
"Peter Rathgen was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania from 2011 to 2017.
We always thought it was sick that a UTAS Vice Chancellor would move an entire university campus a few kilometers South just to 'reinvigorate' the 'quiet' regional town of Launceston Tasmania.
What has reinvigorating a town got to do with higher education? Why are people who appear incapable of rational thought even running a university?

We knew of corruption at UTAS during Rathgen's tenure and we heard he was being investigated by South Australia's ICAC after moving to Adelaide University.
Today he resigned declaring 'ill health'. How convenient?"

So thank you Mr Balter for your piece on Rathjen. As Inside Tasmanian, reports Rathjen together with the City General Manager of Launceston and the Mayor, to make up a pack of dodgy claims (a scam) to get funding from governments to move a whole uni campus barely 3 kilometres from its perfectly fine location to a much smaller area in a low-lying subtidal zone where the tidal river is subject to sea level rise. Massive $300m scam! Then Rathjen the Rat wasted no time and rushed off to get the ViceChancellor job in Adelaide with much higher pay. Apart from the few sycophants and hanger-onners that he had conned, no one in Tasmania was surprised at the news of Rathjen's behaviour at Adelaide Uni. There should have been, or should still be an ICAC type inquiry into the university in Tasmania.
Anonymous said…
The ICAC investigation was, many believe, precipitated by an ICAC survey of staff at all three SA universities. It would seem that Adelaide senior management thought they had staff sufficiently scared to keep quiet. Phsychopathic over confidence at its best. These surveys should be rolled out to every university. The only way to extend investigations beyond Adelaide and follow the trail of woe.
Anonymous said…
How did this committee get it so wrong - the committee that selected Rathjen with rave reviews? Many general staff in Adelaide knew he was not a good choice. These people have lost touch with reality and 4 of them are still running the university.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), Chancellor
Professor Ian Young AO, immediate past Vice-Chancellor of ANU
Professor John Williams, Chair, Academic Board
The Hon Catherine Branson QC, Chair, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee
Ms Christine Locher, Chair, People and Culture Committee
Mr David Hill, Member, University Council
Anonymous said…
Hot off the press - Adelaide University has sent this message to all staff (including volunteers, titleholders, visitors and contractors). Now, all staff have mandatory reporting obligations for corruption, misconduct and maladministration.

ICAC Resources for Public Officers

"The University has developed a new ICAC webpage to support you to confidently manage your obligations as a Public Officer under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012. The page explains your mandatory reporting obligations, provides links to online training offered by ICAC and other relevant information including FAQs."

"If you become aware of conduct that should be reported under an internal University policy or procedure - for example, research misconduct, academic integrity issues, non-compliance with a law, workplace conflict, bullying or harassment, a workplace health and safety issue, or a data breach – you must also consider whether the nature of the conduct is something that should be reported to OPI."
Anonymous said…
The current ICAC commissioner's term is almost up, and his replacement has just been announced as Ann Vanstone.
Anonymous said…
The private school influence running the University - look to Education.
Appointments from private schools. Bentley, ex Catholic Schools, a former colleague of the Head. A problematic time at Uni SA but appointed in place of the current position holder disliked by Head. White appointed level D direct from St Peters. Thrice denied appointment previously and denied salaried appointments to the University of Melbourne. Never held academic appointments, publications for the Research Excellence Submission 2 publications (less than demanded from others), unable to be on the higher degree supervision register as principal supervisor, no grants from the premier funding bodies. Appointment queried, reply White ‘showed promise’. Strange essential appointment criteria. More qualified not interviewed, denied promotion. White misleads as to his salary to increase the university one. White’s colleague, Barbieri, appointed without any advertisement. His fame -inveterate blogging against exams and advocate for ephemeral approaches to teaching and outraging the Singaporean Education Ministry. No qualifications relevant to the school – his doctorate in Italian drama. His Distinguished Apple Educator status a perverse reason for appointment as others had same and could be utilised for the role that was created for Barbieri. Barbieri mandated all students purchase Apple Ipads. When student representatives complained, they were ignored. Why must purchase a computer and an expensive and niche brand used in expensive private schools of Adelaide. Bentley and Barbieri changed the school experience placements in the education degree to focus on private schools. The country placement important for country schools abandoned. Teaching requirements changed so that one cohort had 20 days of teaching and another cohort 80. Students not informed of these changes.
All these appointments further enhanced without any advertisement. Bentley made Director of School Partnerships, White Deputy Head of School, Barbieri Director of E Learning. These posts carry increased status, reduced teaching load and likelihood of further promotion. The lack of White’s research outputs commensurate with D status came up at School and Research Committee Meetings met the response that there were no relevant journals he could publish in. There followed a campaign to change the rules to benefit him. Others not so fortunate were punished by not publishing in the Faculty’s Ranked Journals. Other internal appointments made without any advertisement went to McCallum’s favourites. Notable the appointment of Westphalen to Deputy Head of Teaching and Learning. Her fame- avoiding teaching and undermining colleagues. Previously, relieved of all leadership roles.

The School Advisory Board is private school focused. One member the former Head of St Peters College and friend of White and Barbieri. The Dean of Arts child and the Faculty Manager’s go to St Peters College. The former Principal of St Peters College is close friends with the Head of the School. Highly opinionated, retired, operated in the most privileged and rarefied education circle.
The Arts Dean noted the university would not be responding to Balter’s Blog. A ‘culture check’ of the School sanctioned by an useless NTEU failed to achieve anything. When 2 female staffers met with the head of school to discuss bullying she responded that such was from one staff member who had left. Dean of Arts met with staff and defended the appointment of White saying he had good Google Scholar Citations. These are not what count for the research assessment exercise. Now White to amass publications places his name on publications authored by higher degree students. Shaw, reappointed McCallum as Head and gave her sabbatical leave. This occurred after White and Bentley nominated McCallum for low status educational awards and Telstar Business Woman of the Year and lobbied for her. With respect to study leave other more deserving members of staff were denied this.
Anonymous said…
Yes, because it's wanting to imply (to ICAC) that the responsibility is shared with staff, i.e. "we wouldn't be in this situation if staff had reported things through official channels, so it's not our fault". Sure, staff members are going to paint targets on themselves everytime management bullies, harasses and manipulates administrative process to suit its agenda.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Anonymous July 27, 2020 at 4:23 AM. Ann Vanstone is a Uni Adelaide alumnus and appointed to SA Supreme Court in 2003. So the question is she going to be ruthless with her alma mater?
Anonymous said…
Do not trust HR or senior leaders - gaslighting at its worst. There is a useless uni website that states the process of formal complaint process. When you follow that process, they do their best not to register it in their system so that they have a squeaky clean record. Even when some complaints were recorded into the system - before the university worked out the best way was not to record the complaints - the system managed to break complainants down until they just gave up. An anonymous complaint from July 2020 sums it all, "... Nobody seems to know what happened to that complaint, but there is a story circulating that somebody did overhear a private discussion between university HR staff in which one person, referring to this case, seemed pleased with the fact that the University had recently successfully “defended” its 40th consecutive code of conduct complaint. That alone is evidence of the sort of culture that pervades the organisation." Senior managers will only cough up if lawyers interrogated them.
Anonymous said…
Government ministers lose their jobs when caught lying and misleading public but university senior managers get away with just about anything. Some people's careers have been built on web of lies and cover ups. And they continue to prosper and protect each other.
Anonymous said…
But the question is who pays to be private?
Mention is made above to the mandating of Apple Ipads under Barbieri in the School of Education. What needs noting is that Barbieri’s St Peters College was once a pc computer school. Only Art and CAD led the push to Apple. The Head of IT left the school after being undermined. Is it the case that the then Headmaster (now on the Education School Board?) led the push for Apple and did/does his brother work for Apple or an Apple Supplier? And what is Barbieri’s relationship with Compnow. 

Years ago, the then William Hall Head of CAULT at Adelaide wrote a classic book University Teaching. He noted that in university teaching there was often not one way but a variety of alternatives. Seems this sage advice has been forgotten as now in the School of Education, aided and abetted by the bullies in Learning Enhancement and Engagement, there is one way only. Ipads and the play way and certainly nothing as rigorous as examinations. The Dean of Arts having forbidden any exams in a recent Faculty Board Meeting. Let us hope medicine, dentistry and engineering still examine students or else we will all end up paying the price in pain, death and destruction.
Anonymous said…
Sounds like nepotism and maladministration in which case Adelaide university staff as public officers have the obligation to report the matter to ICAC. "The obligation to report corruption, misconduct and malad-ministration applies to all matters that occurred on or after 1 September 2013, or that have come to the attention of the public authority or public officer on or after 1 September 2013."
Anonymous said…
One can only hope that endless budget squeeze, bullying and maladministration have not infiltrated into medicine, dentistry or engineering. Hope the administrators have not put the public at risk.
Anonymous said…
Been there and done that. Official complaints were made to the head of the department itself PROFESSOR MICHAEL KELLER. No action was taken or no outcome. The worst thing about making a complaint is life’s disappointment. Either take action in your own hands or forget and move on in life. The management is itself to be blamed for staffs behaviour at this organisation.
Anonymous said…
If only the management is that strict we don’t need HR or employee union or safe work Aus. Haha
Anonymous said…
Finally a feather of truth has dropped from heaven like a bomb on the disreputable career of Peter Rathjen and along with that impact, it also exposes the many stupid and easily conned people in positions of power who failed miserably to do the due diligence that their positions demand on this man and his actions.
In particular I refer to his time in Tasmania where his intimidation of staff and detrimental influence on morale was only part of the insidious trail of negativity he left in his wake. What is it about VC’s? They are an untouchable, ego-driven, unethical (despite so-called qualifications), de-humanising bunch who have long forgotten that the institutions they rule are meant to be about education rather than driving a push for income and assets.
The “misbehaviour” that caused Rathjen’s “illness” and forced his early retirement in SA was in fact a carbon copy of his behaviour within UTAS however, the big difference in Tasmania is that no-one here was either aware of it (highly unlikely amongst board members etc when staff knew of it), and no-one, not one person of moral fibre did anything about it. One has to ask “Who is guilty of the biggest sin?” The current VC, one Rufus Black, acted as an innocent on ABC radio when asked if there was any connection of Rathjen’s behaviour back to Tasmania. His comment was that there was none and all he knew was what was in the media. That response leaves one to ponder where the truth lies and whether the required due diligence was done.
For mine, the major aspect of Rathjen’s deplorable time in Tasmania, as mentioned in a previous post, is the dirty deal done in cahoots with the complicit GM of Launceston City Council at that time, Robert Dobryzinsky, and that is the plan to unnecessarily relocate the University Campus from Newnham to a flood zone in Inveresk. I see Rathjen’s actions in this scheme as being more damaging than his on-campus activities because the move will have a detrimental effect on the whole community for years to come. Meanwhile, the Launceston Councillors, always bereft of any intelligent, transparent or truly altruistic behaviour, continue to be conned by the idea.
Let it be said LOUD AND CLEAR, all brands of politics, both in Tasmania and Federally (even the Greens, who you would think might be a bit interested, only demonstrated that they have about as much relevance as the now defunct Democrats), have failed miserably to do any due diligence on either the motivation of the main Players (Rathjen and Dobryzinski), the need or viability of the project and the terrible waste of funds which now, given the massive debt we have accrued due to the Covid 19 shutdown, is even more obscene. Also it has to be said that the current VC Rufus Black, no doubt in his guise as a self-confessed “Thought Leader”, has chosen to run with the whole dubious scheme despite his “expertise” in the field of ethics. One can only presume that the cold, business focus of universities prevents them from letting an easy land-grab go. And complicit in this was the stupid Council that made it easy by handing over millions of dollars of free land, without community consultation and without the potential for the collection of rates.
Instead of leaving behind the footprints of fine achievement, ethical decision making, unquestionable integrity and a better educational experience, it would appear that VC’s are willing to trade this off for financial gain thereby leaving a muddied bog which future communities will have to clean up.
Thanks for that!
Anonymous said…
Part of the syndrome is the recent trend of Vice-Chancellors being re-branded as Presidents. First it is the dual title 'Vice-Chancellor and President'. Then comes the reversal, 'President and Vice-Chancellor'. There's only one stop after that: 'President'. Where has this idea come from and who benefits from it? Senior leaders who can then easily side-step into the business world? Time to get back to an ethos of service, not self-service.
Anonymous said…
Staff and students can not dare or consider risking their career making complaints or standing as witness. Which is fare and understandable. I see lots of people come forward and express them selves here on the blog. The big question now, is the ICAC reading or considering any of this comments into their investigation? Or it it just a waste of time? ...............
Anonymous said…
The only hope for university administrators is that their prey will be answered in the form of government funding squeeze to ICAC. ICAC in South Australia was refused funding request of $2 million last year. ICAC NSW is in the same boat. That is why people have come to this blog....
Anonymous said…
From Twitter:

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Anonymous said…
Rathjen's replacement may be Peter Hoj, outgoing VC of University of Queensland, and former VC of UniSA:

Hoj is notably pro-China:

A year ago Hoj announced he would be stepping down from UQ in mid-2020. Just in time to slot into the vacancy recently voided by Rathjen.

Within a couple of days of the Adelaide Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor stepping down recently there were renewed calls for a merger between Adelaide and UniSA. Former Senator Chris Schacht was particularly vocal about this. Schacht is a registered political lobbiest and according to Wikipedia is chair of The Australia China Development Company, whatever that is (their website is not currently working:

So, Hoj has links to UniSA (perfect person to broker a merger between Adelaide and UniSA), and links to China. People with strong links to China have spoken up in favour of a merger.

If this isn't a bunch of coincidences, it must have involved quite some stage-managing over a considerable period of time. Wonder who could have stiffed Rathjen? Someone who has wanted a merger for a very long time and was thwarted?
Anonymous said…
Firstly, if Adelaide were remotely considering revisiting a merger with U of SA, they would not be appointing a new VC. Secondly, apponting a pro-China VC will turn U of SA completely away from a merger. Adelaide has a Confucius Institute. Does not bode well. Adelaide has dozens of Drew Pavlous (sraff and students) who will have Adelaide constantly under investigation by one agency or another. They wouldn't be that stupid. Or would they?
Anonymous said…
Peter Hoj is trying to come back through the revolving door? This is terrible news. Just look at 60 minutes about a week ago.

"In case you missed it, make sure that you watch 60 Minutes’ explosive report on Chinese corruption at the University of Queensland (UQ) and its persecution of 21 year-old pro-Hong Kong student, Drew Pavlou."

"The management of the University of Queensland, and in particular Peter Hoj and Peter Varghese, stand condemned today by the international media, by both Labor and Liberal politicians, by both left-wing and right-wing Australians, by its own students, and by the powerful pro-American lobby. That management unleashed a shit-storm on itself today by its decision (via a kangaroo court) to suspend Drew Pavlou for 2 years and thus oust him as student representative on the UQ Senate, as well as make it impossible for him to finish his studies."

"Maverick Queensland MP Bob Katter has vowed to go after Australia’s universities, saying they are beholden to the Chinese Government. "

"University of Queensland vice-chancellor Peter Høj has written to students defending the university's commitment to free speech, while warning a "shift" in perception around its links to China "could have significant implications" for Australia's economy."

"Professor Høj will retire soon, to be replaced by the chairwoman of Universities Australia, Curtin University vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry."

When we hoped the rot could end with Rathjen.............................
Anonymous said…
UQ reputational wrecker, Peter Hoj, headed to Uni of Adelaide? By Leith van Onselen in Australian Politics, International Students at 1:00 pm on July 30, 2020

Readers will know well that over the past twelve months the University of Queensland (UQ) has been plunged into local and international infamy by its corrupt relationship with the local Confucius Institute and Chinese Consulate. Most pointedly, the universities’ reputation has been destroyed by its treatment of Hong Kong protestors (and one formerly obscure student named Drew Pavlou). A scandal that has reverberated worldwide, with condemnation ranging from the Australian Parliament and Supreme Court to the cover of the Wall Street Journal and just about everywhere in between.

The key (mis)manager of this debacle is UQ vice-chancellor, Peter Hoj, who should long ago have been brought to account for bringing the university into global disrepute, ironically the very charge brought unfairly against Drew Pavlou, who’s only crime was to arrange a full 13-person strong protest in support of HK freedom.

But, today, The Australian reveals that instead, Professor Hoj is the frontrunner to head the University of Adelaide (UA) as it reels from a collapse in overseas enrolments and its own corruption inquiry.

We are quite lost for words.

More at
Anonymous said…

On July 22, 2020 at 7:36 PM, Anonymous said...

"Well thats enough for now but more to follow - his personal life - well only if anyone is interested in that?"

Yes - certainly interested, where it bears on issues related to inappropriate work-place behaviour like bullying, manipulating, lying, inappropriate interactions with staff and students, chauvinism, etc.
Anonymous said…
On July 22, 2020 at 7:36 PM, Anonymous said...
"Well thats enough for now but more to follow - his personal life - well only if anyone is interested in that?"

We are very interested in everything you know. You may as well
tell us, while the internet is still a free and open platform to share information.
Anonymous said…
What is 'Adelaide Research' and what is Mike Brooks's and the University of Adelaide's connection with it?

Why does a 'personal loans' company feature only pictures of medical staff and equipment?

What do you find if you google its phone number?

Is this a real business?

Why doesn't Mike Brooks' staff profile on the uni website contain a link to the Adelaide Research website anymore?
Anonymous said…
Shell company? Phone number is a plumber. Can't find any information anywhere. Is it even registered? No ABN listed on the website. I thoughf that was illegal?
Anonymous said…
Not on the government's Australian Business Register.
Anonymous said…
And it is not located at 101 Morphett Road.
Anonymous said…
Sure it's not Adelaide Research and Innovation? That's above board, but this Adelaide Research is something different. No such company registered with ABR, don't exust at the stated address. Phone number seems to be a bona fide central coast plumbing company (wonder if they are aware and gave been getting weird calls). Then again it's a 1300 number so may have had many previous users. Still should be looked at.
Anonymous said…
It is somehow connected with Adelaide Research and Innovation, but the question is how? Mike Brooks's staff page used to contain a link to 'Adelaide Research and Innovation', of which he was listed as a Director. But when you clicked the link it took you to the 'Adelaide Research' personal loans website. Adelaide Research is not, and was not, a trading name of Adelaide Research and Innovation. The Adelaide Research loans website used to contain a link to the MoneyMe website but doesn't anymore. It's all quite strange, and agree it should be looked into. Why would a senior university executive offer personal loans, and to whom would they offer them? Further, why would they do so via a website for a non-existent company that claims to be a 'financial institution' that has existed since the early 2000s?
Anonymous said…
Someone should ask Mike Brooks to clarify this. Did he have conflict of interest? Bring it to the attention of the union @NTEUSA and ICAC @ICAC_SA.
Anonymous said…
Adelaide cannot be serious in contemplating Hoj. To replace one problem with another is courting disaster. The only possible reason is Hoj's purely economic performance at UQ, relying on the Chinese overseas enrolments and bending to CCP influence via the Conficius Institute (CI) and his "buddy" the Chinese consul. That is now not available - at least for years to come. Adelaide has a CI and I'm sure they're lobbying for him like crazy. There will be a massive backlash if they appoint Hoj. Be ready for big protests and a very, very circumspect tech industry. IP leakage everywhere. Many universities are asking staff to declare shareholdings, ensuring disclosure of interests in Chinese-owned companies.
Anonymous said…
A lot of discussion pieces about Professor Alastair Burt here, particularly around the PSR. It's important to note the puppet strings that were pulled tightly by Natalia Hubzcenko and Alex Sabharwal during this time. The Faculty culture was crippled when they were employed. Middle Management bullies at their finest.
Anonymous said…
> A lot of discussion pieces about Professor Alastair Burt here, particularly around the PSR.
> It's important to note the puppet strings that were pulled tightly by Natalia Hubzcenko and
> Alex Sabharwal during this time. The Faculty culture was crippled when they were employed.
> Middle Management bullies at their finest

Lets not forget Tony Cambareri...
Anonymous said…
Many people brought by Burt are still in powerful positions in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Just look at Richard Logan. Lesley Steel pulled strings on him and he followed her instructions blindly. His incompetence is also evident in his handling of Gue's abuse on postgraduate students. Did Logan know some dark secrets before 2019? What about 2018, 2017 or earlier?? The devil is in the detail - just track down emails in the university server. Time will tell what will happen with Logan and people who are protecting him. Well, Ben Kile fully supports Logan knowing that he could be covering up for those dark secrets.
Anonymous said…
I am retired but have worked under Hoy at UA. Hope he gets the job.
Anonymous said…
Re Adelaide Research: I'll bet this is a typo caused by whoever filled out the DVCR's Researcher Profile: Board Memberships section. It is still there. Why not just send him an email and tell him you noticed it.
Anonymous said…
This should happen in University of Adelaide and Queensland as a starter.

Minister to Charles Sturt U: let the sun shine on the books

Excerpts from this website below.

A federal minister is cross with Charles Sturt U's $80m deficit. ... saying the statement (made by the university yesterday) is “silent on key points.”

“Now is the time for the university to open up the books and to shine some light on its finances, management and operations. Sunlight is the best form of disinfectant.“

... for CSU, it needs to “audit in full.”

“Only then will students, staff and the communities which CSU serves have a clear picture about its sustainability and how the university will navigate the future which is vital in maintaining community confidence and government trust,” he warned.
Anonymous said…
Quite a few unis need auditing and broader ICAC scrutiny. I'm sure if the ICAC staff survey that triggered the ICAC investigation at Adelaide, were to be rolled out nationally, there'd be dozens of investigations. The big one is lack of transparency in HR practices around bullying/harassment and appointment processes. I'm very surprised that the other two SA unis are not also being investigated from the stories I've heard over recent years.
Anonymous said…
Curious to hear about how other people have gone with trying to report research misconduct inside the uni. Was it investigated properly, or got covered over? I tried to report once to no avail, almost sorry I bothered. I would like to know if mine was an isolated bad experience or if other researchers have run up against the same brick wall.
Anonymous said…
You'll find the more senior they are, the more protected they are - and the less protected you are.
Anonymous said…
Almost sounds threatening. That you, Malware Mike?
Anonymous said…
Yes, AnonymousAugust 11, 2020 at 12:07 AM, the chances are that more junior people are on contract. A contract that will not be renewed if they expose misconduct. It would seem like they blame the whistle blower for bringing the institution into disripute, rather than the exposed behaviour.
Anonymous said…
Why are senior staff at the University so worried about 'protection'? What do they need to be proteced from? If people obtained their position's though legitimate and fair means, are performing well, are not involved in misconduct and are treating colleagues and students well, they should not need any 'protection'.
Anonymous said…
To Anonymous August 12, 2020 at 9:46 PM:

This is dictatorship, isn't it? Adelaide management has turned into dictators? They can get rid of tenured staff without too much difficulty these days.
Anonymous said…
Adelaide Dental School again - the letter written by late Professor Grant Townsend to Acting VC Mike Brooks:

The School’s budget – the lack of progress in developing a budget model that is more transparent and based on real costs rather than the present opaque formulaic approach applied in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Despite growing our revenue and reducing our operating costs, the School has been required to return more and more to the Faculty.

1. The graph and data below show the increasing revenue and reduced operating costs in the School but the ever-increasing cut of the School’s income being taken by the Faculty (gross margin).

Income - [The graph cannot be pasted on this blog]
o Fee income has grown steadily since 2014
o Block grants have declined slightly as RIBG retained by Faculty for 2017 –
o Other will fall from 2018 as Colgate income $1.2M) and CPD income ($500k) will terminate
o Overall revenue has grown at about $1.2M (5%) per year

o Significant reduction in salaries (especially 2015-16) due to delayed replacement of staff and limits on casual teaching
o Almost no non-salary expenditure to support research, invest in infrastructure etc
o Almost $6M reduction in expenditure and investment 2015-17

• Final result is a $7M per year increase in the return to the Faculty in 2017 compared with 2014 and a total of almost $15M more returned over that period compared with 2014 expectations. This is reflected in an increase in the gross margin from 32% in 2013 to 54% in 2017

2. Decisions emanating from the Faculty to increase the student:tutor ratios in the clinic for 1st and 2nd years (from 6:1 to 9:1) and in the simulation clinic (from 8:1 to 12:1) are reducing the opportunity for providing feedback to students and reducing the quality of the learning environment.

Anonymous said…
Ben Kile, as the Executive Dean of Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, has continued to cut funding from the dental school prior to Covid-19. No reasons provided - just tell the school that your budget is lower than last year. He does not know, or bother to know about how dental teaching clinics should be run where students treat patients. He does not care about patient care or putting the public at risk. He fully support Richard Logan, the Dean and Head of School of Dentistry, who blindly follows the directions from his superiors so that he can keep this job. Everything comes down to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)! Now that Rathjen is gone, Mike Brooks has failed to act on all the wrongdoings. Well, he has been supporting Alan Cooper and many Executive Deans who were bullies so what can you expect from him? These will go down as DARK, SHOCKING moments in the history of the Adelaide Dentistry School.
Anonymous said…
Wow if only it were that easy- as a high performing senior staff with no skeletons in my closet who definitely obtained my position legitimately, I can say that I am terribly concerned about speaking out- it is quite easy to cut people even if they have been productive and done everything right - no one wants to deal with people who rock the boat here. That’s been proven time and again. Particularly if you’re of the female gender- how many female senior staff have left in the last 5 years? Basically left feeling hopeless -secured good jobs at institutions that valued them. Please don’t pretend that those people who are raising concerns have somehow obtained their roles in some inappropriate manner.
Anonymous said…
To Anonymous August 13, 2020 at 6:21 AM,

I understand your point, I'm not suggesting that only people who have behaved inappropriately are concerned about needing
protection. I raised the question because in an ideal and fair work place, people who have not done anything wrong, would have little to fear and be open to questions and transparent about their record. I found it strange that their were many comments about people being protected by superiors rather then defending their actions through clear explanations and support from colleagues and students.

I agree with you, unfortunately it is easy for institutions to cut people, if they do not like them speaking out about impropriety. When the university's primary concern is protecting its reputation - and the leader's position - over adressing individual's concerns about mismanagement and injustice or protecting victims, who have experienced harrassment and bullying at work, it becomes a more authoritarian, less democratic, less diverse and less transparent place. This in turn breeds a culture of silence and fear, that benefits those at the very top but lowers morale and increases resentment for the majority.
As you mentioned, this leads to many good people leaving, ending their careers or moving to other universities because they are forced out or are unable to tolerate a work environment, where they cannot express themselves freely or receive adequate support. This effects women and other minority staff in particulars, as they often experience more challenges during their career's.

As an institution becomes more authoritarian and power is concentrated at the top, you will notice a shift in the types of individuals who gain leadership positions. To survive in the job, they learn not to "rock the boat" and put their personal integrity, values aside, only saying and doing things that please their superiors. These individuals receive the status and salaries they crave but lose their autonomy and decision making power, as they only remain in their postion through servitude to superiors and tightly controlling subordinates.

Fear and silencing tactics only work when people have something to lose. If there are mass job cuts, many will have nothing to lose. I imagine there will be many smart people with plenty of time on their hands, willing to research and expose the truth about those who treated them unjustly.

As I mentioned before, I realise no system is ideal but I raised the question, why do people need protection - from accusations and criticism - if the system is fair and working well?
Someone may need protection, if they are subject to false accusations motivated by personal or professional rivalry. However if somone, who treats others fairly, has good ethics, values and character, works in an environment with colleagues who have the share the same attributes, they would not be concerned about needing protection.
Anonymous said…
Adelaide senior management will say that they have no or very few formal complaints in their system. That is because the flawed system deters people from raising their voice and protects the bullies and harassers. They hide in many layers of web of lies that they have weaved. External organizations should be very aware of this.

There are many senior academics and managers who have integrity and are pure - no doubt about that. But those in big boys' club lack integrity and have lost touch with reality. They are the ones who protect bullies under them. Hasn't someone made a comment about Mike Brooks protecting Alan Cooper and did nothing about all the bullying complaints for years. Hasn't someone also made a comment that Mike Brooks was the supervisor of some of the previous Executive Dean who has destroyed the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences? Brooks well knew about those problems - bullying and harassment - but just let them happen under his watch. Many people continue to suffer from the trauma and some will carry it forever.

See how Mike Brook's inaction turned out with Cooper? The university has made a settlement with him. That is the amount that could have helped support some staff's job. And Brooks continues to enjoy his privileges. No consequence for him or others in the big boys' club. Someone please tell me if the institution is not protecting them??

The Anonymous from August 13, 2020 at 6:21 AM correctly writes that many capable staff have left the godforsaken place for better jobs. Some were pushed towards resigning or taking early retirement package. This is incompetent management operating at its worst, and it is hiring more incompetent managers to run the place down. This needs to change. Those managers need to go, following footsteps of Rathjen and Scarce. Staff should no longer have to be led by incompetent people who lack integrity.
Anonymous said…
Many can still recall how the Faculty of Health Sciences misused about $10 million bequest funds in the medical school some years ago. This very serious matter was dealt in secrecy. The senior management forced the Executive Dean at the time to resign but they recovered the funds partly by cutting other school's budget. Dental school's budget was cut severely to make up for the medical school's stuff up. This all happened when Mike Brooks was Deputy Vice Chancellor & Vice President (Research). When government bodies make such mistakes, heads roll with ministers. At the university, Mike Brooks got promoted. The buck always stops with people below Mike Brooks.

Someone should open this investigation. The public deserves to know how the university mismanaged their bequest and what did they do to recover the funds.
Anonymous said…
University of Adelaide is a public service organization, according to ICAC. All those major stuff-ups must be publicized. The schools should have the right to know what is really behind endless budget squeeze (pre-COVID). Talk about transparency!

How did this committee end up appointing Rathjen as the VC? Can they be trusted again?

Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), Previous Chancellor
Professor Ian Young AO, ANU
Professor John Williams, Chair, Academic Board
The Hon Catherine Branson QC, Chair, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee
Ms Christine Locher, Chair, People and Culture Committee
Mr David Hill, Member, University Council
Anonymous said…
Very much agree about the Alan Cooper payout. He got (how much?) and his victims didn't even receive an apology. Nobody has accepted responsibility for that entire situation.

He was recruited in 2005, even though irregularities on a research grant he submitted to the Natural Environment Research Council while at Uni of Oxford were indicated in the admittedly obscure journals Nature and Science. His boss from Oxford is now on the record as saying Cooper forged his signature and lied.

There's a lack of due diligence and then there's the calculated recruitment of shady characters who managers figure are made of the right stuff. Are there others?

It's a real pity the case settled through mediation instead of going to a hearing in the Fair Work Commission. This way university top brass get to have their cake and eat it too. Get rid of the source of public embarrassment (Cooper) while not having all the gory details aired in public - and there are many more gory details than have been published on Michael Balter's blog.

Cooper was dismissed for serious personal misconduct (bullying/harassment/sexual harassment). What he was NOT sacked for, and what the university lawyers did NOT include as grounds for his dismissal, says a lot about the priorities of people higher up the chain of command. Basically nothing that would need to be investigated under the Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. A guide which Mike Brooks helped develop and fully understands. I'm aware of allegations of breaches that would fit under definitions 2.1 i, ii, v, vi, and viii of the guide. And I'm only one person.

One way or another the university is sitting on a lot of liabilities, and I hope UniSA and the SA Government realize what they are taking on if the two unis do merge.
Anonymous said…
I hope someone has a freedom of info application in. Being a public institution, in existence through an act of parliament, the public have a right to know what tax payers' money is getting - or not getting.
Regarding mergers, it would be financial suicide for UniSA at present. What? Merge with a debt-ridden institution under ICAC investigation, a council that appoints a Chancellor from within to protect secrecy and is courting potential foreign influence by considering Hoj for VC, and still with the ICAC corruption survey report due this month? More to come from that I bet.
Mergers are best when both institutions are stable in all aspects.
I note UoA has just withdrawn support for The Conversation.
Anonymous said…
It is time to request whole lot of documents under Freedom of Information. For the long-term benefit of the university, while paying due respect for the founders of the university, we must bring all the corruption, misconduct and incompetence out into the open and deal with them. clean up the system. The university's donors from 1874, Walter Watson Hughes and Thomas Elder, and other key figures (the first Chancellor, Sir Richard Hanson and the first vice-chancellor, Augustus Short) would have been horrified by the current management style and would have wished to see the rot cleaned inside out.
Anonymous said…
Under Freedom of Information, potential documents on cover ups and malpractice should be requested for:

Peter Rathjen's appointment - how did the committee fail so terribly?

Mike Brooks' roles in - managing Alan Cooper's complaints and departure/financial settlement; role in handling bullying complaints that hardly ever favored the complainants

Faye McCallum (Head of School of Education) - nepotism implicated in staff appointments; allegations of bullying; handling of bullying complaints by Jenny Shaw

Justin Beilby (previous Executive Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences) - mismanagement of bequest funds on research (under Mike Brooks' appointment as Deputy Vice Chancellor & Vice President (Research); lack of transparency with schools' budgets

Alastair Burt (previous Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) - handling of Professional Staff Review; bullying complaints; circumstances under which many competent deans left or were removed and incompetent deans (bullies) were appointed; circumstances under which Colgate Center was closed; circumstances under which schools had to suffer endless budget squeeze; lack of transparency with schools' budgets

Richard Logan (Dean and Head of School of Dentistry School) - bullying by him and his school manager; malpractice with (unsuccessful) attempt to close the BOH Program; failure to prevent bullying and harassment by Gue (documents/ emails from 2019 and earlier), lack of transparency with schools' budget; incompetence with staff appointments (which has seen 2 bullies already being fired by the university)

Ben Kile (Executive Dean of Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) - what he knew about bullying and harassment in dentistry and what he has done about it; lack of transparency with schools' budgets

There are probably many more cases like these!
Anonymous said…
Agree. Perhaps a collective and concerted FOI effort is what is called for. The ICAC survey may reveal some things of concern, but what is investigated is at the discretion of the Commission, and will not necessarily align with what the community wants or deserves to know. A starting point could be to ask for some figures on how many FOI requests have been made to the university over the last (5? 10?) years, with a break down of how many of those requests have actually been granted versus how many have been denied.
Anonymous said…
If anyone has a bit of spare time on their hands this weekend, perhaps they could create a Wikipedia entry for Mike Brooks. Any Wikepdedians out there with the skills and permissions to create new pages? Most past Vice Chancellors of the uni have entries so he is noteworthy enough.
A. said…
the new Chancellor of UA says Rathjen has received a payout "in lieu of an abbreviated notice period", but did not say how much. (in a lengthy interview in last Saturday's Advertiser) Given that his salary is >$1m, the payout is probably $500k or so 😮 This looks like a uni payout/payoff so it could draw a line in the sand on the issue and move on. Any payout while an ICAC inquiry is underway into his behaviour is unethical and contrary to good governance. And doubly unconscionable at a time when the uni is cutting staff salaries and looking at retrenching staff.
Anonymous said…
Wow fuckers always win........ the uni could not admit the their fault and fire the ........
Anonymous said…
Totally agree, the number one commandment at workplace HR follow Person who speaks out is the number one enemy to the organisation the second is the staff who supports them. Many people just keep a blind eye for this reason.
Adrian said…
History shows that when people are told to 'eat cake', the city burns down. I don't want to see Adelaide go up in flames but the ruling class are setting up the conditions for the place to ignite by gobbling up any money that is left.
Many people have had no meaningful representation for years and soon will be out of work, the frustration is going to boil over and they will have no other option.
Anonymous said…
@ At the Adelaide Dental School Staff Forum held on Tuesday 26th May, 2020 - a rare event - Benjamin Kile (Richard Logan's supervisor) said he fully supported Logan. Logan is invincible......

The Adelaide Dental School Staff Forum, was a rare chance for all members of staff to share their ideas and concerns with the senior staff and receive reassurance regarding the future of the dentistry school.

Instead, it turned into a support rally for Richard Logan, where Ben Kile had to chest-thump for him. Logan is not 'invincible', he is a weak leader, not only because he is a lapdog to the Executive Dean but because his incompetent decisions have degraded conditions, standards and the reputation of the Dental School.

Ben Kile will learn that no one is 'invincible', especially when he realises, he is himself, only a spear-carrier for Mike Brooks.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
It's so frustrating that FoI takes so long. We only find out long after the damage has been done. That level of spending is approx two annual Prof salaries!! More infuriating is that UTas did not notice and pull in the spending, and that this issue never figured in the "due negligence" that is UoA. What was his spending like at UMelb before UTas?
Anonymous said…
Interesting the article about the new University Chancellor in the Advertiser (SA Weekend) on Sat 14 August. It is excellent to read of her understanding of issues related to gender. The subheading says "...and why everyone has the right to feel respected in the workplace"
I do wonder how staff can feel as though they are respected in the UA workplace when there are significant leadership issues such as those outlined in the comments above...
When leaders are hired with known track records of having no respect for women. Hmm...
Anonymous said…
Yes, and Branson was on the panel that appointed Rathjen, and now we'll see who will be appointed VC.
Anonymous said…
When actions don't match words ...... the words just look good on paper. Well, Branson would still say Adelaide uni has created an environment where everyone feels respected in the workplace. Just wait and see if the ICAC report to either validate or negate it.
Anonymous said…
@ Anonymous, August 18,2020 at 8.04am,

Thanks for posting your comment.
"Interesting the article about the new University Chancellor in the Advertiser (SA Weekend) on Sat 14 August. It is excellent to read of her understanding of issues related to gender."

Could you or anyone, post a copy, on this blog, of the article from The Advertiser (SA), subheading "...and why everyone has the right to feel respected in the workplace", Sat 14th August?

It would also be nice, if anyone could copy and post, to the blog, The Advertiser article with the heading:

"Uni hierarchies can allow harassment, warns new Adelaide Uni Chancellor Cathy Branson, QC"
4 days ago, The Adevertiser (SA) (15th August?).

I am curious to know what she means by "allowing harassment" and who is she warning?
As a high-ranking member of the uni's hierarchy, does she take some responsibility for the many cases of harrassment reported at UofA? Does she have any agency in preventing future harrassment?

Would she like an improved university culture, with zero tolerance for any kind of harrassment, as most Australians do? If so, how is she working towards this goal?

If uni hierarchies can still allow and tolerate harrassment, it might be time to change how university council members are appointed and disciplined.

The formation of a new, independent body to oversee the University Council and guide policy decisions, may prevent future incidents of harrassment.
Anonymous said…
From The Advertiser 15 August 2020:

"Culture of respect

Universities must recognise the potential for abuse of power made possible by their hierarchical nature, the new Adelaide University chancellor has warned.

Cathy Branson, QC, a former Federal Court judge, said allegations of sexual harassment against former High Court judge Dyson Heydon were also a warning for universities.

“I think we have to accept that hierarchical places are places where very poor conduct can be tolerated, that you wouldn’t expect to be tolerated,” she told SAWeekendmagazine.

“The protection we place around really senior people in hierarchies – the judiciary and the legal profession … universities have their strong hierarchies as well – we’ve got to be alert to the danger that comes from that.” Adelaide University was not exempt.

“There are almost certainly pockets of this university where the culture is not what we want,” she said, adding that such attitudes could stop talented people working there.

Ms Branson called for a “renewed and refreshed” culture of respect at the university, because “no one harasses a person that they truly respect”. She was appointed to head the university council in July after the resignations of senior leaders, vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen and previous chancellor and ex-governor, Rear-Admiral Kevin Scarce.

Professor Rathjen announced last month he was quitting because of ill health; Mr Scarce left without explanation in May.

On the Heydon allegations, Ms Branson said she was appalled that some of the most talented young women in the legal profession had left it because of the alleged behaviour. The case showed that “we need to think more deeply” about the problem.

“Sexual harassment, particularly sexual harassment of young women in their workplace, is a complex problem deeply rooted in societal attitudes towards women,” she said.

Ms Branson last month said robust, respectful debate was welcome but “freedom of speech is not just about being able to say nasty things about other people”.

She said people did their best work when they felt welcomed and respected – a view founded on her experience as a trailblazing woman and human rights’ advocate.

Her first priority was the uni’s projected $250m shortfall over two years from the effects of COVID-19. PAGE 40: EDITORIAL"

Anonymous said…
No doubt all the above has been planned as a PR offensive within media, marketing and HR at Adelaide Uni with a bevy of advisors getting ready for the release of the ICAC report. We were told in one departmental meeting that the Uni had the Advertiser where they wanted it and that any stories on the uni that the Advertiser ran were always cleared with the media dept at the Uni. One guy joked his wife worked there. Even the student newspaper was run by St Peter's private school exies. On Dit never ran any forwarded stories on the appointment of White and Barberi and co and the fact that the School of Ed is run for the private school sector by private school types.
Don't hold your breath thinking things are going to change. Well unless there is some major revolution.
Anonymous said…
There's a much longer article/interview, entitled "A LITTLE MORE R-E-S-P-E-C-T", but too long to post in one go.
Anonymous said…
From past history, one just cannot trust the senior management. Hope the chancellor does something to improve the culture. I fear it is just PR stunt. Senior managers have failed and hurt staff many many times. How can they trust these empty words?Word of advice - do not hold high hopes, otherwise you will get very disappointed. The chancellor would not have criticized the university's system if it was not for the ICAC survey. If the chancellor is conscientious, she should resign because of the abuses that have happened under her care (in earlier positions). Mental health problems are very rife among staff. I contemplate contemplate suicide - what the university has done to me and my colleagues. Students should know this - some staff are just trying to live and do their best, not knowing what is around the corner.
Anonymous said…
So let’s see, Chancellor Branson is on record in the Advertiser article above as saying “no one harasses a person that they truly respect”.
They will if they are allowed to! Ms Branson, as a member of the hiring committee, hired a VC who had a known long history, of sexual harassment and bullying.” So I find her quotes and story in the Advertiser very disheartening - I’d like to ask her, point blank, Chancellor Branson, if you believe this, then why did you, as a committee member on Rathjen’s hiring committee, allow him to be hired?
If you feel women deserve better, then why would you knowingly agree to hiring him? You supported employment of a known sexual harasser! So have you changed overnight? Change comes through an apology and an acknowledgement of bad decision-making. Hiring a woman Chancellor does not address the problem if the woman has contributed towards the problem through poor decision-making. Rathjen should not have been hired at UofA with his well-known history. Enough is enough!
Anonymous said…
It gets better (or worse)!! Inga Davis has now gone.

Brooks cites she "decided to take voluntary separation in order to contribute to the university's savings target". Really? What a load of ...... and very convenient. Could she be the "inappropriate relationship" referred to by ICAC?
Anonymous said…
Rathjen's payout is rumoured to be ~2 years salary. That's close to $1.7M!! That payout plus the settlement over Cooper could have saved many jobs at UoA. The staff are taking pay cuts now and paying for this crap as well as the covid downturn. Surely Branson, Brooks and the rest of their cronies cannot last!! It's Putinesque!
Anonymous said…
Did Inga Davis get a payout too?
Anonymous said…
Probably. One by one, pay off the problems and, before you know it, nothing ever happened. Except many people losing jobs, being forced out because of the bullying and toxic culture, careers ruined and ongoing mental anguish. Psychopaths don't care or empathise. Monro was like that. Wonder what mess she left at uni of SA before going to defence?
Anonymous said…
The latest developments are so disappointing. Why is Rathjen getting a payout for 2 years?? What is Mike Brooks thinking and does Branson feel bad about this (if the reporting is true)?

Cooper was never disciplined for misconduct. When Nature started the investigation and published the report, Adelaide had to terminate his contract. The uni breached HR regulations, and was forced to payout Cooper. If Mike Brooks had done his job properly, the uni would not have lost money on Cooper. And is Brooks telling the truth about Inga Davis' departure? If she is really the "inappropriate conduct" reported by ICAC, why not tell the truth?

It seems Adelaide has no shortage of pathological liars in senior management.
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately, the ICAC integrity survey report will have names redacted as was the case for the one on SA govt departments. However, when you see the complaints about appointments or promotions without due process, the context will make it obvious who was appointed/promoted/tenured/bullied/harassed and by whom.
Anonymous said…
People should read the ICAC report with comments on this blog. It will all make sense then. The ICAC report will probably make South Australia (University of Adelaide) the bullying academic capital.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone closely associated with the university (or anyone connected to anyone closely associated with the university) happen to drive a black Lexus? Has anyone had a vehicle of that description park up outside their house after they engage with Balter's Blog or any of the issues discussed in it?
Anonymous said…

The problem with stories like this is they don't actually dig into the heart of the issue. Did he break any rules here or was his travel in line with university policy at the time? My guess is that he didn't break any rules, and the individual or committee responsible for setting travel guidelines for uni staff should be held equally accountable.

I bet those rules have been changed since the new UTas VC came into position though...
Anonymous said…
@ Anonymous August 22, 2020 at 10:40 PM

Regarding the black Lexus car, I drive a late model one and I got mine for a good price, as they lose resale value quickly.
That was probably me, you or someone noticed. I only did it as a practical joke, I know it was immature but I was doing it in the spirit of good fun -- it's how I get my kicks. I will stop, if it is bothering you or any other blog commenters.
Then again, I also drive a white van, so be on the look out for them.
Anonymous said…
What was the appointment process for the Science Director of the Basil Hetzel Institute?
Anonymous said…
AnonymousAugust 24, 2020 at 12:42 AM asks about the BHI Science Director. Isn't that Joy Rathjen?
Anonymous said…
Joy Rathjen's appointment as Science Directer at BHI, is very odd because she is far less experienced than the other directors and her academic background is in stem cell research and zoology.

The Basil Hetzel Institute has two Science Directors, Joy Rathjen and Mike Roberts and is headed by the Director of Research, Guy Maddern.

"In August 2019 Associate Professor Joy Rathjen was appointed as Scientific Director in a position supported by The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF)."
The THRF is an NGO that receives funds for donatioms and lotteries.

Mike Roberts, is Professor Pharmaceutical Science at the UniSA and Professor of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics at UQ. He has had a 40 year research career and 25 years experience as as a tenured professor. He also holds master's degrees in business administration and science.
He has produced over 200 peer reviewed papers and is currently supervising 10 research students.

Guy Maddern, is a Professor of Surgery, at UA and has published over 400 peer reviewed papers and received $20 million in grant funding.

Joy Rathjen has a Bachelor's Degree in Science, from UA and a PhD in Science, from Oxford.
It appears that, she is currently an employee of U.Tas and has received two research grants during her30 year, career, including a $10,000 grant for studying embryonic stem cells and $671,464, for a study about fisheries management, ending in 2018.
She is currently supervising one research student and has previously supervised one other, during her career.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the info. Very odd indeed. Clearly she did not get the position on merit of research track record. If not with help from husband and VC Peter, then how? Could this also be part of the ICAC investigation?
Anonymous said…
This Inga Davis. Was she appointed via an advertised position, shortlisting and interview process, or just appointed?
Anonymous said…
Seems Joy Rathjen should have sought advice from White and Barberi and Bentley in the School of Education. Would have helped her to avoid the long hard road to academic fame and glory. A much shorter walk along Payenham Road to the academic world than via Oxford and other places. Then again interesting academic appointments were common at Nexus 10. Two interesting profs were appointed. One after leaving two other places under a cloud and who continued working at another Australian uni and hence was never there and a second to head up Education having never worked in a uni before. Both of these brought complaints to HR and the Deans which were never acted upon.The poor junior who did complain was let go. Then of course the now newly installed VC out at Hawthorn, Victoria when DVC-A rather than sack all the CLPD and Higher Ed Staff sent them to Ed where they lived the academic life of leisure that Crisp had cultivated for them for so long. Well except for Green and Guerin who were deemed troublesome and were made redundant. Then the then DVC-A hired another cohort of engagers and seize the dayers to work with the newly installed PVC to help everyone contemplate the true meaning of academic work.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous from August 25, 2020 at 1:04 AM: Thank you for the leading question. The answer is obvious. Did Rathjen just say, "What interview? I am the supreme leader and I will do whatever I want."

When that DVC-A left, we were ecstatic but felt sorry for the Vics. When someone raised problems in our school in a public forum, she said we should be run by TAFE and not by university. Always thought that person brought bad energy to the university. There must be lot more that they did..............

Adelaide's track record says the council will take that person back as VC in future. Something is grossly wrong with the council.
Anonymous said…
Re the Brooks and Adelaide Research connection, the website used to be for Adelaide research and innovation but it looks like the domain expired and it's now linked to a personal loans company so that's why it was removed. Nothing fishy there.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Finally - perhaps the start of some justice...this very long-standing sexual harasser, bully and liar might just get his come-uppance:
Anonymous said…
As to Joy Rathjen:

Yes, any appointments that Joy Rathjen has that may have been influenced by her husband Peter should be investigated. Her Scientific Director appointment at the Basil Hetzel Institute is an interesting one. It is part-time and sponsored internally by the The [Queen Elizabeth] Hospital Research Foundation (THRF). The job is about mentoring research students and their supervisors.

On the Institute's website is the following: "TQEH Director of Research, Professor Guy Maddern, says, “Joy brings a strong background in laboratory based research, is enthusiastic about gaining greater input from the universities in support of students and is keen to provide support to both supervisors and students working within the BHI. This position is supported by THRF and we are very grateful to them for their commitment to The Institute.”"

Joy Rathjen has an average research track record, a passing interest only in translational research, and has no special experience or qualifications in mentoring research students or supervisors. Perhaps she *was* the 'best candidate' for the job, perhaps neither QEH or BHI looked too hard...

...Perhaps she was given favoured treatment hanging off the coat-tails of her twice-VC husband...likely in my view.

No mention that I can find that she got the job in a competitive fashion, so perhaps the use of the word 'candidate' above is over-stating things.
Anonymous said…

Anonymous said…
This all starts at the very top - we need a Federal ICAC to look very closely at what goes on at all levels of government.
Anonymous said…
Utterly shocked to read this though I'm not sure if this post is "protecting" the victims or just seeking to glorify sordid details...

Peter Rathjen was my biochemist lecturer at the Uni of Adelaide back in the day. I remember him being young, vibrant and slated for great things in the future. He was a favourite when lecturing and students loved him. I didn't know much about him or interact with him outside lectures but I thought he was a good teacher who made biochem seem interesting etc. The last time I saw him was in Sydney in April 2019, at the function where he's accused of misconduct. It was an Adelaide uni function which I attended, I talked to him at length and did not find him inappropriate. However I thought he might have had too many glasses of wine and seemed nervous. We reminisced about biochem and old times, ironically about someone who has been rumoured to have been acting inappropriately (one of my friends had encounters with another professor at Adelaide Uni and that professor had once yelled at Rathjen in front of our class etc).

I never heard about him again until the resignation and recent chancellor's email. I am horrified and shocked. I remember the staff at the event in Sydney and they were all female. They looked after him and had to make sure he got back to his hotel etc. Some were young. I don't know how else to react at the moment.
Anonymous said…
The latest news on the ICAC enquiry into Peter Rathjen's behaviour:

The Commissioner found Rathjen guilty of serious misconduct. An inquiry into his behaviour and lies in Tasmania should be held. He has much to answer for during his time as the Vice chancellor at the University of Tasmania, 2011-2017. Lies, misuse of UTas (taxpayer) funds on travel and other matters.
Anonymous said…
The 12-page statement by the ICAC Commissioner is available for download here. It's somewhat more complex than news outlets have reported, and does not reflect well on the new Chancellor, nor on the Council:
Anonymous said…
Change won't happen at the University of Adelaide until the current Chancellor steps down and the others on the hiring committee of Rathjen. His track record was well known. He should not have been hired in the first place...
Anonymous said…
Agree that the remaining people from the hiring committee should be fired. The committee members were:

Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), Previous Chancellor
Professor Ian Young AO, ANU
Professor John Williams, Chair, Academic Board
The Hon Catherine Branson QC, Chair, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee
Ms Christine Locher, Chair, People and Culture Committee
Mr David Hill, Member, University Council

The current chancellor, who was the Deputy Chancellor earlier in the year, did some not so nice things according to the ICAC report. She was also in the hiring committee as the Chair of the Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee. How did she become Deputy Chancellor from there? Definitely looks bad on the current chancellor - comes up as a power hungry person.

The ICAC report states:

In the meantime the Convenors’ Committee formed what Ms Branson (Deputy Chancellor) said was the Rump, which she chaired and consisted only of four members.

The Rump decided that the Chancellor should be advised there would be a risk that if he did not resign a motion would be put to Council for him to be stood down during the investigation.

The Deputy Chancellor requested that the Chancellor meet with her at her home on 26 April 2020.

At that meeting the Chancellor was advised that for the good of the University and for his own good he ought to consider resigning. Otherwise a recommendation would be made to the
Council that he be stood down.

The Deputy Chancellor also advised him that she wished to become Chancellor.

The Chancellor was given a fait accompli. If he did not resign he would be stood down. That
would have been extraordinarily embarrassing for him.

On 27 April 2020 the Chancellor resigned. On 30 April 2020 the Deputy Chancellor met with
the Vice-Chancellor and told him that I was investigating his conduct and that a resolution
would be taken to Council to stand him down. He took leave.

I do not think that the Chancellor should have been put in the position in which he was put.

I do not think my investigation could have embarrassed him or the University such that he
needed to resign. However, he elected to put the University’s interests above his own by

On 4 May 2020, without further explanation it was announced that the Chancellor had
resigned and on 5 May 2020 it was announced that the Vice-Chancellor had taken an
indefinite period of leave.
Anonymous said…
The University won't change. The report indicates that the University board did not initially think Rathjen's behaviour merited stronger action, and instead pressured the Chancellor to step down. Are there any consequences for this lack of judgement? I hope Rathjen's pay-out is forfeit because of his disgrace and that the proposed staff pay-cut takes this into account. I see that the University is also planning on announcing a Behaviour Policy guide, but I doubt it'd address the many issues outlined in this blog. I am disappointed that the ICAC report focused only on Rathjen's sexual harassment. Where are the conclusions drawn from the staff survey in April? What is being done about the blatant maladministration in other sectors of University?
Anonymous said…
Replying to Anonymous @ August 25, 2020 at 9:14 PM

***"Re the Brooks and Adelaide Research connection, the website used to be for Adelaide research and innovation but it looks like the domain expired and it's now linked to a personal loans company so that's why it was removed. Nothing fishy there."***

Thanks for the link. Actually this doesn't explain the weirdness it away, if anything it only makes it worse. The Adelaide Research (bogus personal loans business) website in its current form was operational during 2019, but no captures are available on Wayback Machine for 2019/2020 here:

In addition, the Deputy Director of Adelaide Research and Innovation is/was a Jane Rathjen. Not suggesting any impropriety on her part assuming she's related - but I think it is also too early to declare a total absence of fish from this situation. Particularly as another Rathjen (Joy) is connected to the Basil Hetzel Institute (for medical research), and the Adelaide Research loans website looks dedicated to providing loans only to people dressed as medics. Has any money been inappropriately channeled into BHI or the QEH?
Anonymous said…
Donate for Michael Balter's Go Fund Me: Freedom of the Press Defense Fund Kurin v. Balter

Michael has been sued for $10 million for reporting the truth against an UCSB academic's serious misconduct - retaliating against students who reported sexual assault from her husband.

So far, $7,987 has been raised of $20,000 goal. Please support Michael and help to keep integrity in academia.
Anonymous said…
Rathjen's problem is only the tip of the iceberg. With a pathological liar as VC, other senior managers have learnt to thrive by lying as well. They get by using their favorite quotes, "I did not know" and "I cannot remember". Culture will only improve when there is serious punishment for pathological liars (as stated in many many earlier comments) and HR staff (who fail to fulfil their duty of care).
Anonymous said…
The Convenors Committee (referred to in the ICAC Report):

The Hon Catherine Branson AC QC - Chancellor (Chair)
Mr David Hill - Deputy Chancellor
Professor Mike Brooks FTSE FACS - Interim Vice-Chancellor & President
Ms Kathryn Presser - Chair, Finance and Infrastructure Committee
Ms Christine Locher - Chair, People and Culture Committee
Vacant - Chair, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee
Professor John Williams - Chair, Academic Board

Anonymous said…
"In addition, the Deputy Director of Adelaide Research and Innovation is/was a Jane Rathjen. Not suggesting any impropriety on her part assuming she's related - but I think it is also too early to declare a total absence of fish from this situation."

Jane Rathjen is Peter Rathjen's sister. I doubt there is anything fishy here in terms of her position at ARI...but in these tumultuous times, who can be sure?
Anonymous said…
To anonymous@ 4:59: I had him as a biochem professor too, back in the 90s. I also did grad school in the MLS and at least for us it was a well known fact that PJ was inappropriate with women. His initial leave of absence and the ICAC investigation was a surprise to none of us - I talked with some old buddies about it, we all knew what the investigation was likely about.

Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour is all too common in science. It's happened to myself with a different professor from a well known institute, where after some drinks with the group he insisted I kiss him before he would let me leave the area. I did because I was young at the time and couldn't think of a way out without making a scene and damaging my career. Many of us don't say anything because we feel we should have known better, given a person's reputation. Also, as shown in the PJ case, oftentimes reports are not taken seriously unless they are made official, even though it is common knowledge that incidents are occurring and reoccurring.
Anonymous said…
Given the release of the ICAC report Shaw and McCallum (and others if this applies to them) would be advised to do a careful audit of those they appointed to SAM roles. Libidinous Latin Lothsarios should not be the first choice for such roles- especially given their penchant for chatting up over a glass of wine attractive postgrad females. And given the formers background from the school with the famous sex tape (all hushed up by the local Adelaide private school establishment) extra caution may well be needed.
Anonymous said…
All come home to roost. Scarce appears to have acted in probity and Branson implicated in cover up. They are screwed. Some justice for all those who havd been through hell. Let's hope now Rathjen's payout is cancelled and Branson resigns immediately, together with entire council. But still a long road. A lot of complicit people throughout.
Anonymous said…
Yes there's more to come. What ICAC issued was a "statement". Full report likely. There's also the Integrity Survey due and, withe the China issue in full swing, U of Adelaide's relationship with the Confucius Institute and staff involved with CCP talent programs will be under the microscope. Hoj better be off the table.
Anonymous said…
Branson was power hungry. These comments in the ICAC statement questions her credibility.

"The Deputy Chancellor [Branson] also advised him that she wished to become Chancellor.

The Chancellor [Scarce] was given a fait accompli. If he did not resign he would be stood down. That would have been extraordinarily embarrassing for him."

Branson should resign. If Rathjen's payout is true, Mike Brooks should go immediately. He has handled many cases very poorly - see other comments in this blog. There should be a major shake up in the council. SHAME ON THE CURRENT LEADERS for failing the staff and students.
Anonymous said…
In the Chancellor's email to all staff on 26 August 2020, she criticized Rathjen heavily. But does she take any responsibility for being in the hiring committee or institutional failure that has seen the victims of bullying and harassment being gaslighted? She was the Chair of the Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee before becoming the Deputy Chancellor and then Chancellor. The legal procedure that she would have set up has failed many staff who complained against bullying. The university should be forced to publicize the data on bullying complaints and their outcomes (how many went in favor of complainants - isn't it close to zero??). The university should be investigated for not even formally recording bullying complaints. They have a fancy bullying management system but complaints do not get registered! Rathjen was guilty of that too. Those who have misused their power or subjected staff to poor treatment should be punished. Pathological liars should be prosecuted.
Anonymous said…
Branson's email to all staff on 26 August 2020:

[Alluniversity] Update from the Chancellor – ICAC findings

Dear Colleagues,

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) has today made a public statement relating to allegations of improper conduct by the University’s former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Rathjen AO, and the University’s handling of those allegations.

The Commissioner has found that the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rathjen, was guilty of serious misconduct for the purposes of the ICAC Act. No finding of misconduct or maladministration was made by the Commissioner against any other person.

It is important for you to know that the University has fully cooperated with all aspects of the ICAC inquiry, which began when the former Chancellor, Rear Admiral the Hon. Kevin Scarce AC CSC, reported the matter directly to the Commissioner.

The University of Adelaide is pleased that the Commissioner’s statement has been released as it allows us to address the understandable concern from our community about the nature of the issues under investigation and to properly inform our own staff and the broader University community.

The conduct of the former Vice-Chancellor as outlined by the Commissioner is unacceptable and does not represent our values or expectations of behaviour at the University from any staff member, especially our most senior leader.

This behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated, whether in a University, another workplace, or any part of our community.

I am particularly distressed by and apologise for the impact that the former Vice-Chancellor’s behaviour has had on others. I acknowledge that it has reflected badly on the University.

The University regrets the initial handling of this incident, which followed external legal advice given to the University. While Professor Rathjen’s actions were his own, we acknowledge that the way in which the matter was initially dealt with by the University was not appropriate.

The University accepts and will adopt all of the recommendations made by ICAC to improve our processes. We are already applying what we have learned to ensure that the University becomes a stronger, safer and more respectful place to work and study.

I am committed to maintaining and strengthening a culture and environment which allows students and staff to thrive, an environment in which individuals feel respected, safe, valued and welcome – that is our obligation as education providers and as an employer.

The University Council has already resolved to commission an appropriately qualified and experienced person to conduct an independent review of our processes and our checks and balances, in relation to the accountability of our most senior leadership.

Our new Staff Values and Behaviour Framework has recently been embraced by a large senior leadership group and will be shared with all of our staff and titleholders. This framework helps to reinforce the values of our University and to ensure that those values are reflected in the behaviour of our staff.

As Chancellor, I’m confident we will become a better institution from this experience. I firmly believe that our values and culture must be led from the very top. I am committed to ensuring this happens.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. Catherine Branson AC QC

The Hon.Catherine Branson AC QC
Office of the Chancellor and Council Secretariat
The University of Adelaide
Ph: +61 8313 5668
Fax: +61 8313 4407
Anonymous said…
Chancellor Catherine Branson wrote, "The University Council has already resolved to commission an appropriately qualified and experienced person to conduct an independent review of our processes and our checks and balances, in relation to the accountability of our most senior leadership."


The university has used external organizations for culture check in the past but then made decisions that suited management anyway. The only exception is Alan Cooper's case because Nature conducted its own investigation and started publishing the data - thanks to Balter for breaking the news. The management can have all the independent data and still make a final decision that they have decided prior to the investigation. Regardless of all the serious bullying complaints made, they got away by saying, "There is no bullying problem". Investigations were made by Executive Dean, Deputy VCs ... all the way to VC (Rathjen and Brooks). They gaslighted the victims anyway.

How do you know the university will not do the same thing with "an independent review of our processes and our checks and balances"? Their track record does not instill any confidence in staff. It will just be waste of time and money. They waste money on futile exercises and keep cutting teaching budget so they can waste more money on other exercises.

How can you trust the same administrators who have failed staff time and again?

Is the university going to apologize to the bullied victims?? Many have retired, resigned or taken early package, and the problems went away for the management.

Do not get fooled by empty talks and hollow lies from higher management. Do not believe them until you see it in action.

Things will only change if there is serious punishment for administrators for failing the staff or the system. Punish HR for failing to record complaints, and to executive deans and higher up for failing to take actions on deans who are bullies.

The whole systems needs clean up.

Rathjen would have thought he was invincible. He failed to notice two things: the effectiveness of Balter's journalism and ICAC investigation. Those things changed the tide. Others who have behaved like Rathjen and have protected bullies should be concerned because you are not invincible. Otherwise you will be held accountable for the bullies' actions. Please do the right thing by people.

You cannot teach academic integrity to students if you are a pathological liar and a political animal. The current management has too many of those. You punish students for cheating in exams or plagiarizing in their assignments, yet you cheat and lie all the time. You are not being fair. Rathjen was not being fair.
Anonymous said…
Precisely. Had a contact yesterday from a colleague in tears. 3 years of bullying by an oafish and opinionated male. Nothing has happened- the union says keep a log and of course this absolves them from doing SFA. Shaw and MacCallum do nothing. Zilch, Nothing. Staff are all fearful and are terrified to do anything. Not only does this bully target female staff but now students especially overseas one. What does it take before the University actually does anything. Perhaps the university should read the recent judgement of J. Elkaim of August 7 and see what not doing anything cost one ANU affiliated institution. Then perhaps they may act. Should not be too hard given Shaw is a lawyer and other staff have legal family connections.
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