Deakin turmoil deepens with new bully claims

Professor Hisham Elkadi.


SECURITY guards escorted the architect of central Geelong’s Vision 2 revival from Deakin University amid legal wranglings with staff, according to sensational new claims.
Professor Hisham Elkadi, who took up a new post in England unexpectedly last year, is embroiled in legal action against Deakin and its vice chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander, over alleged racism and discrimination.
But Deakin is in the extraordinary situation of defending itself alongside Prof Elkadi and others in court against separate bullying and discrimination claims from senior academic Mark Webber.
Deakin and Prof den Hollander have also been involved in a third court case, alleging injury as result of bullying, discrimination and victimisation.
Deakin sources told the Independent that wranglings before and after Prof Elkadi’s departure had left morale within the university’s architecture department “toxic”.
They cited workload issues, concerns about student assessments and staff personality clashes.
Prof Elkadi was reported in national media this week as possibly responsible for the bullying of faculty members.
Deakin sources made similar allegations to the Independent.
Neither Deakin, Prof Hollander nor Prof Elkadi responded to Independent’s requests for comment.
Prof Elkadi’s allegation he was denied a promotion because of his race, colour and nationality is scheduled to go before the federal court in September. He alleges Prof den Hollander cited his accent and skin colour in professional and social dealings.
Prof Elkadi left Deakin abruptly last year, with sources claiming two security guards escorted him from his office after he failed to appear at a lecture.
He was head of Deakin’s School of Architecture, chairman of the university’s academic board and a high-profile proponent of revitalising central Geelong. He spearheaded the Vision 2 proposal, which was incorporated into a council action plan for central Geelong.
In papers lodged with the federal court, Prof Elkadi claims he was asked to withdraw his application for senior arts and education posts that were instead given to less-qualified academics. He also outlines various incidents of Prof den Hollander allegedly causing him embarrassment, offence and hurt with comments about his accent and colour.