UT social sciences council puts Eamets vote of no confidence on the agenda

University of Tartu
University of Tartu Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Council of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Tartu decided on Tuesday to add a vote of no confidence in Dean Raul Eamets to the agenda of its regular meeting, which is due to be held on Thursday. Eamets has decided not to resign from his post.

While University of Tartu Rector Toomas Asser announced on Monday that he would terminate Raul Eamets' employment at the university, only the 25-member council, which will meet on Thursday to discuss the matter, has the power to recall Eamets from his post.

Eva Piirimäe, vice dean for research and development in the Faculty of Social Sciences, confirmed that one of the items on the agenda for the council's regular meeting will be the dismissal of Raul Eamets as dean. "Yes, the rector has made a referral to the Council of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the dismissal of the dean has been added to the agenda," said Piirimäe.

In order for the dean to be censured and dismissed, two-thirds of the council members present at the meeting would have to be in favor. If Eamets avoids being censured, he will remain in his role as dean until November 12, when his contract expires, explained University of Tartu legal adviser Aliis Liin. If he is censured, the rector will appoint an acting dean the same day following the end of the council meeting, Liin added.

Some members of the Council of the Faculty of Social Sciences were willing to provide comments to ERR on the situation regarding Eamets.

Eva Piirimäe said she had been happy with Eamets as dean until last Friday. "Eamets has been a committed, active and inclusive leader. His actions at the end of last week were therefore a great disappointment. The rector's statement outlined a number of serious breaches. A fictitious contract signed without the knowledge of the university and not registered in the university's database of documents is a significant part of that," said Piirimäe.

"As the initiator of the research, he did not ensure that it received the prior approval of the ethics committee," she added.

Piirimäe said, that she was concerned Eamets had still not acknowledged the seriousness of these breaches.

"I am also saddened by the impression Eamets has given, as if obtaining the approval of the ethics committee is rather a bureaucratic exercise. In fact, the ethics committee ought to be an important partner in the design of a study, helping researchers to think through all the potentially problematic aspects. Applications often go through the ethics committee several times before they are approved," said Piirimäe.

She added, that in the social sciences, the issue of research ethics has been addressed in depth. "Just last year some of the basic rules were explained and a special guide on when (and why) it is necessary to ask for ethics committee approval for a study was put up on the website," Piirimäe said.

Veronika Kalmus, professor of sociology and director of the university's sociology PhD program, also said that up to now she had been satisfied with Eamets as dean. "I have not had any complaints so far, but this current case is, of course, very regrettable," Kalmus told ERR.

Kalmus was reluctant to speculate on the outcome of Thursday's vote of no confidence, as she has not exchanged information on the subject with any other members of the council. "I really don't know, I haven't spoken to any of my colleagues on the subject. I have not been able to talk to any of my colleagues about the matter," Kalmus said.

Garri Raagmaa, director of the University of Tartu's Pärnu College and a member of the council, also said that "Eamets has been a good dean." Commenting on Eamets' problematic actions, Raagmaa said that "people make mistakes."

On Monday, University of Tartu Rector Toomas Asser decided on to terminate the employment of Raul Eamets, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and professor of macroeconomics.

Eamets told ERR that he intends to appeal the rector's decision. "I will probably start with the labor dispute committee, but before that I will consult lawyers. I made managerial mistakes, but the termination of [my] employment contract means that my work as a professor isn't deserving of continued employment either," said Eamets.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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