University of Ottawa's bad faith dismissal of tenured physics professor Denis Rancourt

On 10 December 2008, Denis Rancourt, a tenured physics professor with 22 years experience, was provided with two letters by University of Ottawa administration officials. The first letter explained that he was being placed under administrative suspension and banned from campus, while the second explained that the Dean of the Faculty of Science had recommended to the Board of Governors that Rancourt be fired.

The stated reason for the University of Ottawa's actions is Rancourt's assigning of A+ grades to all students in a fourth-year physics course (PHY 4385 - cross-listed with PHY 5100) in the Winter 2008 term. Rancourt gave out the grades, which were officially approved by the university, because he believes that rank-ordering students is at odds with effective pedagogy. Thus, to achieve a similar effect as the pass/fail system, which is not approved at U of O, Rancourt handed students the highest possible grade so that they could not try to do any "better" and thus, in his view, focus their attention on learning. Rancourt has asserted that: "Socrates did not give grades...[m]y job is to educate. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that what we've been doing with the grading system doesn't work. We are creating obedient employees, but not people who think."

At a 31 March 2009 Executive of the Board of Governors meeting, the University of Ottawa dismissed Professor Rancourt.

In July 2008, an arbitration decision declared that Rancourt's approach to grading was protected under the purview of academic freedom.

In November 2008, the Canadian Association of University Professors announced that it would launch an Independent Committee of Inquiry into Rancourt's case

In the interest of full transparency, Professor Rancourt has chosen to make all documents pertaining to his case available to the public on Please click here and explore the many menus on the site.