By NOEL MURPHY
DEAKIN University and its vice chancellor Jane den Hollander face discrimination claims by former head of architecture Hisham Elkadi.
A federal court hearing is scheduled for September after papers filed with the court alleged Professor Elkadi was denied a promotion because of his race, colour and national extraction.
Prof Elkadi alleged Professor den Hollander had cited his accent and skin colour in professional and social dealings.
Deakin declined to discuss the matter publically.
“We will not be commenting on individual claims on a detailed matter that is currently before the court,” a spokesperson told the Independent.
Defence documents reportedly cite the work of Prof den Hollander, who was born in Zambia, as a volunteer English instructor in apartheid-era South Africa and in promoting racial diversity.
Prof Elkadi left Deakin abruptly last year, taking up a post as head of the School of the Built Environment with Britain’s University of Salford, in Manchester.
He had been head of Deakin’s School of Architecture, chairman of the university’s academic board and a high-profile proponent of revitalising central Geelong. Prof Elkadi spearheaded a Vision Two proposal, much of which was incorporated into City Hall’s 15-year action plan for central Geelong.
In papers lodged with the federal court Prof Elkadi reportedly claimed he was asked to withdraw his application for senior arts and education posts that were instead given to less-qualified academics.
He outlined various incidents of Prof den Hollander causing him embarrassment, offence and hurt with comments about his accent and colour.
He reportedly said he felt marginalised and uncomfortable that she might have considered his colour when assessing his competence.
Prof Elkadi was born in Egypt but lived in Britain from 1985 to his appointment at Deakin seven years ago. He holds a prodigious CV: honorary fellow at the University College London, honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, member of Institute of Egyptian Architects, affiliate of the Royal Institute of British Architects and fellow of the Australia Institute of Buildings.
He has written five books, more than 100 refereed publications and graduated 18 PhD students. He is a member of the Australian Association of Heads of Schools of Architecture, the Association of the Australian Deans of the Built Environment and of the Board of Examiners, ARB-Victoria.
He did not respond to Independent requests for comment before going to print.