Computer science professor speaks out after incident

Nearly a week after an incident that saw him removed from campus and subjected to a disciplinary investigation, Jianping Pan has spoken out to give his side of the story that inspired widespread controversy both on campus and within the local community.

In several emails to the Martlet between Sept. 12 and Sept. 15, Pan reiterated his claim that the university selected him to teach a third-year Computer Science course even though they were fully aware of his concerns that he wasn’t the best professor to do so.

The Martlet reported on Sept. 12 that Pan had been suspended from the university following comments he made during the first day of class that he was not qualified to teach a Computer Science course on numerical analysis. After students emailed the chair of the department with their concerns, UVic administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to halt a lecture on the morning of Sept. 9.

The university later clarified that Pan had not been suspended, as he claimed to the Martlet on Sept. 9, but was instead “relieved of his obligation to teach the course.”

In his email, Pan said that he was first assigned CSC 349A in the fall of 2015. Fearing that he was not the best candidate for the course, Pan said he spoke to Venkatesh Srinivasan, director of undergraduate studies in the Computer Science department, and suggested having fellow professor Richard Little teach CSC 349A. Pan would then teach Little’s course, CSC 226. This is what he told students at the beginning of his class on Sept. 7.

“I said [to my students], ‘That’s what we proposed but [it was] rejected by the chair,’” Pan wrote. “I cannot lie to students [when asked].”

Pan did not provide an explanation for why the university refused any alternatives.

Pan said that he was “shocked” that the university responded by calling campus security and the police to stop him giving his lecture on Friday. He attributed their response to their being misinformed that he had interrupted an ongoing class, rather than just shown up to a cancelled class to make sure the students received a lecture, as he claimed.

In response to Pan’s claims, UVic spokesperson Paul Marck reiterated on Sept. 15 that Pan was qualified to teach the course, but that the matter was now a “personnel issue and [was] being investigated.”

Finally, Pan said that, barring some changes, there was little chance he would want to continue as a professor at UVic.

“Unless there are positive changes on quality control and priorities for students’ learning interests,” Pan said, “there is no future [for me] here.”

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