The malicious attack on the Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium Professor Kim Walker and the NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir, reported by Nicholas Pickard in yesterday’s Crikey, marks a new low in academic intrigue and skulduggery.

The fact is that Walker was last year cleared of allegations against her and reinstated, following a thorough investigation by the authorities of the University of Sydney of which the Con is a part.

The anonymous authors of the letter reported by Pickard are trying to have the reforming dean tried a second time – through the media. They don’t even have the guts to raise accusations against her in their own name.

Particularly revealing is the timing of their attack on the highly respected Bashir, who is also Chancellor of Sydney University. They didn’t come out against her at the time of the hearings of the allegations last year and their renewed assault seems timed to ambush the new Vice Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, when he starts in a couple of months’ time.

There’s nothing that conservative, tenured academics hate so much as change. Especially when it’s brought about by talented women i.e. Walker and Bashir.

The anti-Walker cabal have reached new depths in malevolence by threatening Bashir with blackmail in an unsigned letter sent widely to gullible hacks in the media:

If you do not reconsider your position and withdraw to a neutral place and allow the university to conduct its business, details of your conduct, including your financial support of Walker’s legal costs, will be put into the hands of the press where it will be open to public debate.

Who do the members of this sick-minded academic mafiosi think they are? Their very words should be sufficient to condemn them in the court of fair play, decency and scholarship.

As for Walker’s lectures at the Art Gallery – apparently the mole of this ivory tower clique had to sit through five lectures before finding one tiny error, a misnaming in notes of a source, which she corrected in speaking to the audience. The Herald’s Harriet Alexander stretched this footnote error into a shock-horror story, raising the word “plagiarism”, something which will always raise a headline among the cut-and-pasters at Fairfax.

Oddly, the latest brouhaha reported by Pickard had little effect on the lecture audience last Friday: they gave Walker the warmest reception – and flowers.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey