June 6, 1996

Lynda Hurst
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Controversial instructor
to fight for his job

Ryerson is 'embarrassed by me,' Hannon says

TORONTO - If Ryerson thinks it has seen the last of Gerald Hannon, it better think again.

The controversial journalism instructor said the polytechnic university's decision this week not to rehire him is based on "purely whimsical," not professional reasons, and he will appeal.

"They're embarrassed by me," Hannon speculated. "They don't want the heat. But now they're guaranteeing a longer fight."

John Miller, chairman of the journalism department, refused to explain why he and two faculty members chose to hire three outside candidates to fill the two positions for which Hannon had applied.

He also refused to confirm the department had evaluated Hannon's teaching as "excellent" this spring or that he had cast the deciding vote when his colleagues were split.

"I will not discuss personnel matters," Miller said. "I will only say that we are very happy with the candidates we chose and are prepared to defend our decision."

Hannon, 51, was suspended for a month last winter after he told a Toronto newspaper he worked part-time as a homosexual prostitute to supplement his income as a teacher.

The revelation came while he was already under review - and intense media scrutiny - for allegedly using his freelance writing class to air his views on adult-child sex.

He was cleared of that charge, but a letter of reprimand was put into his personnel file citing "conduct unbefitting a professor" for publicly discussing his prostitution.

If the writing was on the wall then, Hannon said he didn't see it. He was confident his journalistic qualifications and teaching experience would match or better those of any other candidate. He still believes that's the case.

His union, CUPE local 3904, which sent an observer to Monday's confidential hiring meeting, agrees.

Union staff representative Angela Ross said Hannon was the best qualified candidate, both to teach a freelance writing course, as he has for the last two years, and to teach an advanced magazine writing class.

While his Ryerson teaching experience was no guarantee, Ross said, it should have given him considerable advantage over others. She called the decision not to rehire him a "public relations exercise.

"We analyzed the collective agreement to see what they would try to finagle, but we've been given no official reason why he was found not to be the best," said Ross.

"In our view, the winning candidates are missing comparable teaching and writing experience. We will not accept this. They're wrong if they think we'll die and go away."

The union is also grieving Hannon's mid-winter suspension. The first of five days of arbitration was held last week.

Ross said one of the three faculty members opposed the renewal of Hannon's contract because of "discomfort with his views on pedophilia. "That," she said, "brings in the issue of academic freedom."

"Ryerson had its choice," said Hannon. "It could have gone with new ideas and with diversity, but it has chosen not to. It's Jurassic Park down there."

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Created: June 9, 1996
Last modified: November 18, 1996

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