"York University announced the appointment of a “renowned scholar of Chinese history” as dean of what is to be the largest faculty in Canada in its internal publication, Yfile, last month. However, Martin Singer, dean to-be of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, is not a renowned scholar.

David Noble, a professor of history at York University, circulated a press release accusing York president and hiring committee chair Mamdouh Shoukri of fraud after he found that Singer’s credentials were grossly exaggerated in the Yfile report.

“Prof. Singer may be a distinguished administrator, as the York Y-files describe him, but ‘renowned scholar of Chinese history’ he is not,” wrote Arif Dirlik, chair professor of Chinese Studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong, in a letter to Noble. “Indeed, his contribution to scholarship in the field is negligible to the point of being non-existent.”

“That’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, we consulted a number of historians of China. The guy has no reputation whatsoever,” said Noble. “[Singer’s appointment] should be withdrawn immediately.”

Singer has been a professor at Concordia University in Montreal since 1972. York’s press release claims, among other things, that he “has led academic planning processes which resulted in the recruitment of more than 350 tenure-track professors” and been involved with “the construction of several major academic buildings.”

Prof. Dirlik has claimed that Singer has not even published a “real” book, which he feels “would be the basis for minimal recognition in the field.” While Singer has had several publications, they mostly date back to at least 30 years ago.

“It makes York a laughing stock,” said Noble. He has founded a campaign of disaffected York faculty known as York Faculty Concerned About the Future of York University.

Shoukri, who headed the search committee for a new dean, has called Singer “a strong scholar.”

“The words ‘renowned’ were never used by the president nor by Dr. Singer,” said Alex Bilyk, director of Media Relations at York. “Those words were used as a line in our internal publication, Yfile, and their use by staff writers was an error in the circumstances.”

Singer later said that he has not called himself a renowned scholar, and that the claim was written by staff writers. Shoukri and Yfile have both said that the misstatement did not come from the president.

“As for the poor choice of words, I’m responsible for what’s written in YFile,” said Berton Woodward, York’s publication director. “Concordia consistently described him as a leader in his field.”

“Dr. Singer’s qualifications and experience were carefully examined in the interview and search process, and he emerged as the most suitable candidate on the basis of his entire professional record—including his administrative experience, teaching, and scholarship,” said Shoukri in a public message in response to the backlash.

Noble said he received “letters of intimidation” from York’s governing council, one of which asked him to identify the names of anyone else involved in denouncing Shoukri and Singer.

“It indicates to me that the criticism was right on target,” said Noble about York’s actions.

York has since modified its YFile story, removing the word “renowned” after The Varsity asked why it was still there after all the outcry.

“You’re right—we should take the word out now that everyone has expressed their opinion about it, and we have done so,” Woodward said.

Noble remains determined to find a way to stop Singer’s appointment, citing that for a dean who deals with academic achievement, “it would certainly help if you knew what that means.”"