Public statement of USAP Council in response to the termination of our President, Professor Manuel Graeber

The University of Sydney Association of Professors (USAP) affirms traditional academic values including freedom of speech and commitment to the truth. We absolutely reject wilful authoritarian improbity at The University of Sydney, most recently manifested in the dismissal of Professor Manuel Graeber.

Professor Graeber is an eminent scholar who in his field, is in the top 2% internationally (h-Index 77).

As president of the USAP and a committed academic, he has made public interest disclosures of alleged misconduct and corruption at The University of Sydney. The USAP council recently expressed alarm at his suspension by University management, in apparent retribution for these disclosures.

We now unequivocally condemn Professor Graeber’s subsequent dismissal from employment by a committee of three, comprising two senior management figures and one academic representative. USAP understands that the single academic representative did not support Professor Graeber’s termination.

To achieve what we believe to be this wrongful dismissal, the University’s management abused internal mechanisms otherwise intended to guarantee proper process. We note management has previously used this strategy to create an impression of probity, despite its absence.

University of Sydney management has not credibly addressed nor refuted the concerns Professor Graeber raised in his public interest disclosures, and this is typical of other separate similar instances involving other academics. Management has become fundamentally unaccountable not only to the University’s academics, but also to the students and public who fund the University.

We alert that the public good normally delivered by academics and students working together, is now undermined by a self-serving management that lacks commitment to academic values and the academic mission. According to a recent survey conducted by University corporate management, 73% of academics have lost confidence in the University Executive. That damning outcome is to be expected where academics are refused participation in management and abused for speaking the truth. The managers have failed to respond sensibly to their own survey, and in this case have continued with unjustified authoritarianism.

We express full support for our colleague, the eminent scholar and teacher Professor Graeber, and call for his full reinstatement to the Barnet-Cropper Chair of Brain Tumor Research.

USAP challenges Vice Chancellor Mark Scott, Provost Professor Jagose and all other University managers involved, to make fully clear their reasoning and justifications for their actions, dismissing Professor Graeber and for similar mistreatment of others.

We call for an open and public review of the process that has victimised Professor Graeber and others, and also call for a wider enquiry into the governance and management of the University of Sydney.

We urge State and the Federal governments to consider and confront the wilful and negligent destruction of the public good by University of Sydney managers.

USAP Council, 13 November 2023

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