World-renowned psychologist Professor Ian Parker has told students that he is “very sorry” about the situation they face following his resignation from Manchester Metropolitan University.
In an open letter published in full by The Mancunion addressed to students in MMU’s Psychology department, Prof Parker said: “My colleagues in the Department of Psychology tell me that you have not been told exactly why I was suspended or why I resigned.”
He continued: “I have been unable to contact you to explain what happened, and I am very sorry that I have not been able to continue teaching and supervising work for your degree courses.”
Prof Parker was suspended by MMU in October on charges of “gross professional misconduct”, but students were not informed and he was prevented from accessing his emails.
China Mills, a PhD student at the time, described how “he just disappeared overnight”.
A campaign was started calling for his reinstatement and an online petition received almost 4,000 signatures from around the world, including from American philosopher Noam Chomsky.
Following a disciplinary hearing he was allowed to return to work in December, but he resigned at the end of January, stating: “My professional work as an academic has been undermined to the point where there is now nothing left to return to in the psychology department.”
Owen Dempsey, one of Prof Parker’s PhD students, has now officially suspended his studies and plans to ask for his fees to be refunded.
He said: “I was not impressed by the lack of communication I had from MMU since Ian was suspended, which was zero until he resigned.
“My own view is that the University has lost a leading light and this reflects the University’s obsession with being a corporate business – must make money at all costs – even if this means losing a world leading academic. It is such a shame and such a loss for the students.”
Prof Parker’s letter ends: “I wish you well in your studies, and hope that through your union and by supporting the lecturers union you will find a way to address the desperate situation in your department.”
MMU have been refusing to comment on the issue but have maintained that Prof Parker’s PhD students were offered alternative supervision.
Ian Parker’s letter in full:
Dear students on the psychology programmes,
You may know that I was suspended from work and locked out of my email on 3 October last year, and that I eventually resigned from MMU at the beginning of February this year. My colleagues in the Department of Psychology tell me that you have not been told exactly why I was suspended or why I resigned. I have been unable to contact you to explain what happened, and I am very sorry that I have not been able to continue teaching and supervising work for your degree courses. A full account of what happened is available at www.parkerian.com/asylum I am not the only member of staff who has been under attack, and you may have noticed that there are no professors, apart from the head of department, now left in psychology. I was a representative of UCU the university and college union, and the local branch is now doing its best to defend our education system here at MMU. I wish you well in your studies, and hope that through your union and by supporting the lecturers union you will find a way to address the desperate situation in your department.
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