As a former student of Dr. Vesselin Petkov’s, I was deeply disappointed to read about his recent suspension in last week’s issue of the Concordian. Last year, I was lucky enough to have been enrolled in Dr. Petkov’s course The Sciences and Society. This course, and its counterpart in the philosophy department, are basic introductions to some of the most important scientific developments in history, especially Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Coming into the course, I had little background in the subject. I found Dr. Petkov’s course by far the most eye-opening and important class I have ever taken at Concordia. Unfortunately, the future of this course is now uncertain.
An accomplished and qualified mathematician, Professor Petkov designed the course from the ground up and wrote the textbook. For this reason, it’s safe to say there is no other professor at Concordia qualified to teach his class.
Petkov’s suspension is a potentially huge loss for students studying with him this semester, and for Concordia as an academic institution. Yet the real story behind his suspension remains unclear. The article in last week’s Concordian, as well as a recent CTV news report, focused on Petkov’s correspondence with the administration referencing shooter Valery Fabrikant.
But both last week’s article and CTV’s coverage neglected to investigate the context of these remarks, and instead focused on the all-too-obvious implication that Petkov is another potential Fabrikant.
With Montrealers still stinging from the recent shootings at Dawson College, the professor is effectively demonized.
Petkov claims this controversy is only the most recent manifestation of a prolonged campaign of academic mobbing. But why is he the target of such a campaign? More information needs to be made public in order to determine if there is any truth to Petkov’s allegation of academic mobbing or the department’s claim that Petkov’s references were actually threatening. The relevant correspondence should be published alongside Petkov’s explanation for the philosophy department’s motive for academic mobbing. Only then will we have a clear view of the issue.
Ironically, one of Dr. Petkov’s key lessons in the history of science is that the academic world is always resistant to new and radical ideas, a lesson that may prove to be tragically prescient.