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Sunday the 13th of December 2015

2:05 AM

Demanding an apology from Prof John Fischetti, University of Newcastle

I am so frustrated with the non action of the University of Newcastle (UON) that I must make this public. I am going to publish a thread of emails and leave it for all to judge.

As background information, my name was given by the University of Newcastle to one of their PhD students (I have been an outsourced editor for this university for some years and supposedly not any more). She approached me to proofread her PhD proposal. In the emails that follow, a pseudonym will be used to protect her identity. I feel sorry for her that she is dragged into this dispute. When a university admits a student, it has an obligation to bring the student up to par.  By blaming an outsourced editor for the poor quality outcome is a blatant act to shove off the university’s duty and responsibility.  Worst of all, this university asked for a refund. By the same token, can a student who has a poor examination outcome ask the university for a refund of the tuition fees regardless of where the root cause lies?

The emails are in chronological order. They are direct cut and paste except for the pseudonym used. Names and personal email addresses of some UON staff have been removed. Added remarks are in brackets [].

This is the first email:

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From: John Fischetti
To: Cecilia Chiu
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Monday, 21 September 2015, 10:56

Subject: editing from Mega Wisdom [name of my editing/translation business] for Sheila Lewis [pseudonym]

You all have recently edited a document for Sheila Lewis, a PhD candidate here at the University of Newcastle.

Her co-supervisor and I, Professor Ron Laura, are writing to express our deep concern with the poor editing job that you did.

In fact, the editing did not enhance the document and cost us precious time in our work with Sheila.

We hope you might review the document in hindsight and issue us a full refund for the extremely poor job on this.

We will know [sic] longer be using your firm for any work whatsoever.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

John

“Every child deserves the education that is right for them.” John Fischetti

John Fischetti
Head of School/Dean
School of Education/Faculty of Education and Arts
john.fischetti@newcastle.edu.au
+61 2 4921 5979
www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/john-fischetti
Twitter: @fischettij

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: John Fischetti
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Wednesday, 23 September 2015, 21:05

Subject: Re: editing from Mega Wisdom for Sheila Lewis

Dear Prof Fischetti,

My apologies that it has taken me two days to respond as I would like first to make sure that I get all the facts right .

I suppose you are referring to Ms Tracy Sheila [pseudonym] (this is the name she addressed herself and the only name known to me) with the email address: xxxxx@xxxxx.com. I have never been approached by a student named Sheila Lewis. If your email is about Sheila Lewis, then this has nothing to do with me or Mega Wisdom and you may discard this email.

I received an email from Tracy on 30 July requesting my service to proofread her draft proposal. After sighting her draft (as attached) [attachment removed], I declined giving an excuse (which was also a fact) that I was tied up with other editing jobs. I even referred her to another editor, who also declined.  I received multiple emails and sms messages from Tracy asking for help. Being an Asian myself, I have great empathy with NESB students and having the impression that she had exhausted her avenues to obtain help, I eventually agreed to work for her.

According to the Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors Policy of your university, “professional editorial intervention should be restricted to Standard D [language and illustrations]” and “Standard E [completeness and consistency]”. I had many questions and comments in my mark-up file that was sent to Tracy. In my email to her, it was mentioned upfront that “I struggle to understand what you want to say” and that what I had done “does not necessarily improve the flow and logic of your work”. In her last email reply, she said she would “rewite (sic) again” (the email attached)  [email removed]. Since then, I received no further communication from her.

Quality management should start at source.  Your university may wish to review your student recruitment and selection criteria in hindsight. I hope this is not your university’s expectation of outsourced editors to completely rewrite for students who have difficulties in producing academic writing of basic acceptable quality.

With regard to a refund, I am sorry that this is not feasible, in part or in full, as I have never billed your university or Tracy for the time I spent, despite that one whole weekend was sacrificed in order to meet her tight time line. I offered help out of my empathy with a desperate and helpless student and admittedly I always have a soft spot for NESB students.  I can confirm that I have never received any money from the University of Newcastle or from Tracy for this.  My accounting records and bank transactions have all been checked and this is the main reason for my slow response.

I am puzzled why you have come to the conclusion that I have in some way charged or provided a poor service to this student. I am also very disappointed that you have circulated this matter widely without having the courtesy to discuss this with me first or the diligence to check the facts first.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: Cecilia Chiu ; John Fischetti
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Friday, 2 October 2015, 16:03

Subject: Re: editing from Mega Wisdom for Sheila Lewis

Dear Prof Fishetti,

My email to you dated 23 September 2015 refers.

I am fairly concerned about the long silence from the University of Newcastle. As your email of 21 September copied to a number of departments in your university has been widely circulating for more than a week now and apparently nothing has been done to rectify the allegations, I have reason to believe that this has tainted my reputation as an editor.

I trust that you have had investigated into the issue and thus would request a formal response with regard to the outcome of your investigation and what actions have been taken to mitigate the damage to my reputation.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: "caroline.mcmillen@newcastle.edu.au"

Cc: John Fischetti ; Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Monday, 12 October 2015, 0:43

Subject: Request for a formal apology from Professor Fishetti

Dear Prof McMillen [Vice Chancellor of University of Newcastle],

I received an offensive email from Professor John Fishetti, Dean of Education, on 21 September 2015, copied to various parties, alleging me of having provided a poor editing service to his student, which is unfounded. I wrote to Prof Fishetti on 23 September and 2 October and have not received any response, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my emails. I hope this is not the sort of behaviour I should expect of from professors at the University of Newcastle. Below is a trail of our email correspondence.

Three weeks have passed and I am yet to be informed of what actions your university has taken to mitigate the damage to my reputation. Now I would like to ask for a written apology from the University of Newcastle, with a copy to all recipients and subsequent recipients of Prof Fishetti’s email. This incident has been upsetting and I am eager to close this as soon as possible.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu

To: "Chancellor@newcastle.edu.au"
Sent: Sunday, 25 October 2015, 19:59

Subject: Request for a formal apology from Prof John Fishetti and University of Newcastle

Dear Mr Jeans,

I received a defamatory email from Prof John Fishetti, circulated to various parties in the University of Newcastle on 21 September 2015.  In response, I sent a number of emails to Prof Fishetti and Prof McMillen requesting for a reply as to what actions the university has taken to mitigate the damage to my reputation as an editor. Hitherto, I received no response at all, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my emails.  I am thus utterly disappointed at the behaviour of the senior staff at your university.

The purpose of this communication is to advise the university that if I still receive no response from the University of Newcastle, I will seek alternative actions such as:

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  • Publicise this in the media (print and/or electronic),
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  • Share this with international student organisations,
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  • File a complaint to the Ombudsman,
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  • Take legal action for this defamatory behaviour in relation to my business.
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The University of Newcastle has a Complaints Resolution Policy stating that: “the University recognises an individual’s right to make a complaint about the conduct of University operations, services, staff, students, or people associated with the university or using university facilities, where that individual’s interests appear to have been adversely and unjustifiably impacted by such conduct”.

The university’s web page under “Governance and Leadership – Resolving Issues” also mentions that the University of Newcastle encourages “an organisational culture that responds to concerns in a receptive and constructive manner, and in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice”.

The university’s refusal to respond to my complaint seriously contravenes the policy adopted by the University of Newcastle and is contrary to the organisational culture the university intends to nurture. I am yet to see the procedural fairness and natural justice as your university advocates.

Below is a trail of my correspondence with Prof McMillen and Prof Fishetti. May I ask the university to at least have the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of this email while you take time to investigate the issue?

Kind regards,
Cecilia

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From: John Fischetti
To: Cecilia Chiu ; Caroline McMillen
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Tuesday, 27 October 2015, 17:31

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology

Cecilia, I am writing this note as a formal apology for the mistake I made in indicating that you had been paid for the editing the work for one of our PhD students, Lewis Sheila [sic].

I was told that the work had been invoiced, which was not accurate. I am sorry that I did not have the correct information prior to my email to you.

I am copying our colleagues to whom I sent my original email to correct my error and so that they know that this was my mistake. I want those cc’d on the note that no payment was made for this work and that I incorrectly said it had been paid for. Cecilia was very professional in not seeking payment for the draft proposal that was submitted that was in need of extensive work.

There are a number of other matters indicated in your note to me that are worthy of an in-person conversation. I’d be happy to set a time for a phone or Skype conversation at your convenience to discuss these.

Please let me know if you would like to set that up.

Again, my apologies for this mistake.

John Fischetti

John Fischetti
Head of School/Dean
School of Education/Faculty of Education and Arts
john.fischetti@newcastle.edu.au
+61 2 4921 5979

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: John Fischetti ; Caroline McMillen
Cc: Research ; xxx xxx ; xxx xxx ; SoE-Research

Sent: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 18:06

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology

Dear Prof Fischetti,

I find this apology inadequate.  It only addresses the fact that I have not billed for my fees, which to me is minor. This is not the first time that I did not charge international students for my time as I understand they have limited budget in their university student accounts. Instead I have encouraged them to use their funds on professional development purposes such as attending academic conferences, but this is beyond the point.

Your first email of 21 September 2015 inferred that the quality of your student’s PhD proposal was due to the “poor editing job that [I] did”. I have edited many PhD theses before and, to my clients’ satisfaction, have adhered to the professional editors policies of various universities. Your statement should either be substantiated with evidence or should be retracted in writing.

As the issue has gone this far, I want all communication between the University of Newcastle and me documented. As mentioned in my email to Professor McMillen, “this incident has been upsetting and I am eager to close this as soon as possible”.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Chancellor
To: Cecilia Chiu

Sent: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 20:52

Subject: RE: Request for a formal apology from Prof John Fishetti and University of Newcastle

Dear Ms Chiu,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 25 October and confirm that the University of Newcastle treats all complaints seriously.

I understand that the issues you have raised are being assessed and a response will be provided in due course.

Regards,
P.E. JEANS
Chancellor

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: Chancellor

Sent: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 22:07

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology from Prof John Fishetti and University of Newcastle

Dear Mr Jeans,

Thanks for this acknowledgement and that my complaint eventually gets assessed, albeit after a month.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: "Chancellor@newcastle.edu.au"

Sent: Saturday, 5 December 2015, 16:53

Subject: Fw: Request for a formal apology

Dear Mr Jeans,

I received an email from Prof Fischetti dated 27 October and on 28 October I replied that the apology is inadequate (please see emails below). More than a month has been given to Prof Fishcetti to substantiate his claim that my editing job was poor or to retract what he has said. Again, there is no response including an acknowledgement.

I now request a letter from the University of Newcastle on the university’s letterhead to either retract Prof Fishcetti’s email of 21 September 2015 in entirety or provide evidence to substantiate his claim. My mailing address is [address removed]. A soft copy of the letter should be emailed to me within a week, that is, by 12 December 2015. If this issue cannot be settled by that day, I will have to take alternative actions without further notice.

I must say the statement “that the University of Newcastle treats all complaints seriously” is something I am yet to see.

Regards,
Cecilia

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From: M xxx
To: Cecilia Chiu

Sent: Tuesday, 8 December 2015, 17:04

Subject: RE: Request for a formal apology

Dear Ms Chiu,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email to Chancellor Paul Jeans.

The Chancellor has asked me to respond on his behalf, and advise that he has referred the matter to the Vice-Chancellor for review and response.

Kind regards,
M

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From: Cecilia Chiu
To: M xxx

Sent: Tuesday, 8 December 2015, 17:11

Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology

Dear M,

Thanks for the acknowledgement and I look forward to hearing from the Vice Chancellor.

Regards,
Cecilia

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Note: Today is 13 December 2015 and as expected silence is their response.

 

1 Comment(s).

Posted by :

I am sorry to hear the story in your article above. Hope all the affairs quickly finish.

This comment has been moderated by the blog owner

Wednesday the 8th of November 2017 @ 6:01 PM

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