Rick Halpern, the dean and vice-principal academic at UTSC, has resigned from his position, effective August 1 of this year.
In a press release issued by vice-president and provost Cheryl Regehr and U of T vice-president and principal of UTSC Bruce Kidd, the university praised Halpern for spearheading growth and the expansion of academic departments, as well as launching the Green Path program.
Professor Halpern first joined the University of Toronto as a history professor in 2001. In 2006, he became principal of New College until 2009, when he was appointed as dean and vice-principal academic of the Scarborough Campus. He was one year into his second consecutive five-year term, which began in 2014.
Halpern’s wife, homeopath Beth Landau-Halpern, taught a course offered by UTSC’s Anthropology Department called “Alternative Health: Practice and Theory” which has generated significant controversy in recent months. Much of the course’s syllabus presented scientifically unsupported alternative medical treatments, but the course garnered particular controversy for its anti-vaccination material and concerns were raised over its alleged lack of balance.
However, in a three-page report written by Dr. Vivek Goel, vice-president of research and innovation for the University of Toronto and president and CEO of Public Health Ontario, the university concluded that the course was not unbalanced because the majority of students enrolling in the course already have a prior understanding of vaccines and immunization from studies.
Despite this report, the University of Toronto no longer employs Landau-Halpern, and the course will not be offered for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Althea Blackburn-Evans, director of news and media relations, told The Varsity that decisions around resignations are confidential and did not confirm the reasoning behind Halpern’s resignation.
The university is now looking for an interim dean and is asking UTSC faculty, staff, and students to send nominations to the provost’s office via email.