The bill outlining the costs associated with the Dalhousie dental school scandal has arrived – and it’s a big deal.
The university spent nearly $ 650,000 to defend its reputation after a Facebook group known as the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen exposed sexism and homophobia within the dentistry department last December.
An email from Dalhousie University says most of the total bill – $ 344,669 – was spent on hiring outside public relations experts as the scandal unfolded.
Additional public relations costs included:
- Support and advice in strategic communication.
- Media watch and media training.
- The drafting of certain documents.
The cost of outside lawyers, in addition to legal staff already on the university’s payroll, exceeded $ 118,000.
Dalhousie says $ 58,181.34 was spent on the university’s “response and handling” of the scandal. Another $ 57,771.80 went to support the Faculty of Dentistry as part of the Academic Class Standards Committee process.
Professors on that committee determined that the 13 members of the Facebook group had “corrected” their behavior in time to graduate from dental medicine in May.
“The university has a very knowledgeable staff who have provided support, advice and guidance on this issue,” said Janet Bryson, Dalhousie communications advisor.
“However, the problem was very complicated, enduring and evolving. Additional legal and communications resources were needed.”
Cost of the working group
Dalhousie University President Richard Florizone has appointed an external task force to allay the concerns of students and faculty worried about the potential for cover-up.
The task force was also asked to address the fallout from the Facebook group and previous allegations of sexist behavior by faculty members.
“We believe the dental school culture is paternalistic,” said task force chair Constance Backhouse, a lawyer from the University of Ottawa.
“There has been a certain degree of ignorance of the evolution of mores.”
The working group made 39 recommendations aimed at improving the learning and working environments within the clinic and school.
According to information provided by the university, the task force report cost $ 183,100, including the costs of interviewing, discussing, writing and revising the document. It also included the travel expenses of the three members.
The cost of implementing the task force recommendations is still unknown. They include hiring an ombudsman to investigate all complaints.
It is not known if the $ 646,217 represents the final tally associated with the scandal. The invoice will be paid from the provident fund of the university.