Perevz Hoodbhoy’s Scathing Resignation Letter To FC College Goes Viral
Nuclear physicist and activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s resignation letter to Forman Christian (FC) College has gone viral on social media. In the letter, Hoodbhoy said that he was denied the respect that every academic is entitled to.
Below is the full text of the letter.
Ms. Sameen Sarah McAuley dated: 3 July
Human Resources Office, FCC.
Dear Ms. McAuley,
Apropos your email of 11 June 2020 containing the contract offer, 2020-2021.
Therein my contract duration is reduced from three years (as in past years) to a
single year and is further specified as non-renewable.
While recording my protest, I hereby accept the above contract. I also
simultaneously announce herewith my intent to resign as Distinguished Professor
of Physics and Mathematics from Forman Christian College with my resignation to
take effect 120 days from today. Upon acceptance of my resignation I shall
proceed to vacate my office in the physics department and my on-campus
And now for the reasons behind my decision to resign:
I am resigning because the Rector claims I do not meet
FCC’s academic standards or its teaching requirements. In his email to me, on
June 20 he stated that the Academic Standards Committee had recommended
against my continuation at FCC, a decision he agrees with. Whether such a
meeting actually took place, I cannot say. But if it did then I had been tried and
sentenced in absentia without a chance given to defend myself. I cannot recall
any individual or committee seeking to contact me on any such matter during my
8 years at FCC. I have never been informed either verbally or in writing about my
alleged shortcomings, nor have I seen minutes of any meeting where my role at
FCC was discussed. On the contrary, upon being requested by FCC, just months
ago I had given a lengthy profile interview to a mid-level employee from HR/PR.
Via paid advertisements in newspapers, FCC projects its star faculty members as
part of institutional advertising and self-promotion. Therefore, astonished by the
sudden turnaround and the Committee’s recommendation, I requested the Rector
to form a review committee before which I could defend my credentials and
performance. He rejected the request asserting that all powers are vested in the
Rector in dealing with faculty members over 65 years of age. Drawing upon quotes
from the FCC Faculty Manual, he wrote that I have no rights other than what he
may choose to gift me or anyone else.
I am resigning because I am denied the respect that every academic is entitled
to, especially one who bears the title of Distinguished Professor. If someone in
this category can be dealt with so whimsically, arbitrarily and high-handedly, then
what hope can there be for FCC’s lecturers, assistant professors, associate
professors, and even full professors? Such absolute arrogance of power and
arbitrary diktat is intolerable in any institution, but particularly in an academic
institution where successful functioning demands collegiality, fair-play and
transparency. By violating these fundamental principles, Forman Christian College
is spiraling into academic degeneration with no visible end point.
I am resigning because I am deeply hurt that FCC administration is
unappreciative of my efforts to uplift the intellectual environment at FCC. On the
other side, I am pleased that the broad FCC community of students and teachers
showed its interest and appreciation year after year by packing auditoriums and
lecture halls when I gave well over three dozen colloquia and lectures on a variety
of topics, both in the sciences and the humanities. To improve themselves, some
physics teachers have regularly attended my classroom lectures. When requested
by a former physics chairman, and by FCC students hoping to study in the United
States, I conducted GRE physics coaching classes in the evenings. I will not list
here other such efforts where I went beyond the call of duty.
I am resigning because the Rector says in his email of June 23 that in 2020-
2021 I will henceforth bear the ridiculous teaching load of 7 courses. I remind him
here of the formal offer letter issued to me by FCC on 29 January 2013. This is
After successfully raising the above mentioned funds from my own sources in the
United States, I set up a studio at my residence in Islamabad with all necessary
equipment. This enabled me to create the only undergraduate level physics/math
distance learning video courses ever developed in Pakistan. There are over 150
episodes. Put into the google search bar: “Hoodbhoy – calculus”, “Hoodbhoy –
quantum mechanics”, etc. etc. Then click on any one episode of my “Teach
Yourself” series – it opens with a grand (officially provided) picture of the Armacost
Building and the FCC logo. Viewers from New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, and all
across Pakistan regularly ask me questions to which I duly respond. These video
courses shall stay as my permanent contribution to FCC. Quite apart from this, I
taught a full set of four courses per year, exceeding the absolute maximum of
three courses stipulated in the above quoted 2013 contract. This includes a
sociology course which I introduced and which was often oversubscribed.
Contracts awarded to me after 2013 did not mention any specific teaching
I am resigning because the Rector agrees with the Academic Standards
Committee that I do not meet FCC’s academic requirements. He has chosen to
deliberately blind himself to all contrary indicators:
– Education: 4 degrees from MIT, including PhD from MIT in nuclear
– Postdoctoral position at UW (Seattle); short-term visiting
professorships at Carnegie-Mellon University, MIT, University of Maryland;
summer appointments at CERN and Stanford Linear Accelerator.
– Standing invitations for summer research at Princeton University and
UMD – this summer disrupted by Covid-19.
– Baker Award for Electronics; Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics;
UNESCO Kalinga Prize; Joseph E. Burton Award from the American Physical
Society; Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University; Faiz
Ahmad Faiz Award; Selma V. Forkosch Award; Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
Lifetime Achievement Award; listed among top 100 global thinkers by
Foreign Policy magazine.
– Advised the Secretary General of the United Nations on matters
related to global disarmament from 2013 to 2017 with twice-yearly
– Honorary doctorate from the University of British Columbia, awarded
just months ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3d1HoEOXqg
– Honored locally as
The very next
week after this event, I was to receive a cash prize and award at the Qaddafi
Stadium after a PSL match for being among “Pakistan’s 35 heroes”. The
event was cancelled, however, because of Covid-19.
I am resigning because the Administration is not just tolerating academic
mediocrity but is actively soliciting and promoting it. It appears to have only one
interest at heart – that to have grand graduation ceremonies, mortar boards,
pomp, pageantry, processions and parades. A PhD program is being pursued in
physics/math even though undergraduate teaching is in utter shambles in both
departments. But nothing speaks louder of the Administration’s outright contempt
for academic values than the episode of 4-5 years ago. The current Administration,
headed by the current Rector, sought to convert a part of the campus gardens
into a shadi hall. The still standing concrete pillars from this bizarre, failed venture
can be seen at the intersection of Zahoor Elahi Road and Canal Road. One is
grateful to Lahore’s environmentalists and proactive members of the Christian
community who mounted legal challenges and forced the Administration into a
messy and expensive abortion.
Through this letter of resignation I am bringing to the attention of FCC’s
Board of Governors the chronology of events which led to the
Administration suddenly closing ranks against me and chasing me out in
less than a month.
– In mid-March, soon after Covid-19 struck and FCC closed down,
teachers were asked to prepare themselves for going online in the coming
weeks. I informed the Administration on March 20 that in fact I had already
restarted my courses. At that time I was in extensive, perfectly cordial
correspondence with the Rector and wrote to him that although I am a
strong proponent of distance-learning, I am “deeply apprehensive of what
DL might bring not just to FCC but, even more widely, to other universities
in Pakistan”. My proposal for controlling abuse was simple: require
that each teacher deposits his/her weekly teaching materials at a central
electronic repository at FCC so that any student or teacher can see the
contents of a particular course (at COMSATS University this is now being
done on at least one campus). There was stony silence. At a physics
department Zoom meeting my proposal was brushed aside.
– My worst fears were soon realized. Anguished students, although
fearful of consequences, nevertheless wrote to me of the online
materials/lectures they were receiving. Just a glance sufficed to see how
utterly worthless some were. Among the worst teaching materials were
those sent out by Dr. Hassan Amir Shah. More politician than professor,
he is currently under investigation for abuse of authority and corruption
during his tenure as VC of Government College. Though past retirement
age, he was hired months ago by FCC as Dean of Sciences. He is one of
the two senior professors in the physics department who have engineered
my removal. The other is Dr. Sufian Aslam, unknown to the world of
science but well known for pleasing those in power and currently acting as
Vice-Rector. Both professors are known to be close confidantes of the
Faced with the challenge of e-lectures, Dr. Hassan Amir Shah simply took
smartphone snaps of decades old, hastily scrawled hand-written lecture
notes. These can be seen to have yellowed with age and have 1976
scrawled on the first page. To have palmed off this collection of snaps as
a genuine e-lecture shocked me. I wrote to the Rector that because of size
limits on e-attachments I could not append the various materials sent to
me by agitated students, including that of Dr. Shah. I further wrote that if
the Rector should so desire, I could use an internet service for large file
size transfer. There was no response. The Rector’s disinterest in seeing
evidence became still starker after he sent out copious messages of
congratulations to the FCC faculty, lavishing praise on all for meeting the
challenge of e-learning!
– Subsequently, being a regular columnist for Dawn, I wrote the
following essay: https://www.dawn.com/news/1552055/hec-seize-thecorona-moment. This contains absolutely no reference to FCC or any
individual. Indeed, as a matter of policy, to shield FCC from any
controversy I declare my FCC association only in my academic
publications. Nevertheless the article made waves and led to a one-hour
televised discussion between the HEC chairman and myself. I was aware
that this article on online learning would have consequences for me at FCC
and the reference to “yellowed lecture notes” would be understood.
Indeed, from that very day I have become persona non grata for the
I am being punished for being a whistleblower. But this is a price that I have paid
willingly for protecting the interests of the larger FCC community. I have safely
archived all materials and emails on a non-FCC server in the hope that someday
there will be an inquiry against the present Rector and his coterie of academic
hucksters and hanger-ons. They have seriously damaged FCC’s academic integrity
and standards. It is my sincere hope that once this rector leaves, FCC will cease
to falsely project itself through clever cosmetics and, instead, begin the arduous
task of establishing a reputation based upon academic rigor and honesty.
My affection for the Pakistani Christian community remains undiminished in spite
of my sacking. The debt I owe to my Christian teachers from my childhood days
at Karachi Grammar School can never be fully repaid. I will, as I have for many
decades, continue to publicly and vocally defend the rights of Pakistan’s embattled
minorities and will work as before for the day when the very concept of minority
is eliminated from Pakistan’s political lexicon.
I wish that my association with FCC had not ended so unpleasantly but this was
not of my choosing. Indeed, I had explored every avenue to prevent this from
happening but eventually decided that it is truth that shall set me free. I am
grateful to several of my colleagues and students from multiple departments who
have expressed their shock, sorrow, and support. Many are pleading with me to
stay on but this is no longer possible now.
By giving due notice of 120 days for my resignation to take effect, I am satisfying
all legal contractual requirements. I state here that any attempt to deduct any
part of my provident fund on any pretext, or hurt me financially in whatever way,
will be met with full legal force as some of Pakistan’s most well-known and highly
paid lawyers have contacted me spontaneously with offers to defend my rights
Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy
Distinguished Professor of Physics and Mathematics
Forman Christian College.