ONE of Winnipeg's top litigators has taken on the case of embattled University of Manitoba Prof. Gábor Lukács -- and he's doing it without charge.
Robert Tapper said Lukács, 27, is one of the smartest individuals he's ever met, but the professor will still need help making his case before a judge.
The lawyer said he was impressed with the quality of Lukács' legal research, but that can only carry the young mathematics professor so far.
"I felt bad that the kid had a very legitimate point to make and he was going to run it himself, and I just felt he needed a hand."
Lukács filed an application in court at the end of September challenging U of M's right to award a PhD to a student in the mathematics program who didn't meet all the requirements -- the student had failed a comprehensive exam twice.
Lukács said the dean overstepped his authority by waiving academic requirements -- which Lukács said is solely the jurisdiction of the university senate.
The university has subsequently suspended Lukács for three months without pay.
A group of students recently began an online petition to support Lukács (www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-dr-gabor-lukacs) and others have given him cash. Lukács is a one-time child math prodigy who began university at the age of 12, received his master's degree at 16, and earned his PhD from York University in Toronto at 20.
The U of M Faculty Association is challenging the suspension without pay, but Lukács was on his own in the legal challenge and he couldn't afford to hire a lawyer.
"I got a call from someone who's in the (U of M) administration who felt this guy (Lukács) needed some assistance," Tapper said.
He said the university was established by an act of the legislature that clearly spells out the responsibilities of deans and the university senate.
"I think Lukács has a very legitimate point and I think it's worth advancing."
Tapper said it was clear Lukács couldn't afford his fees, especially now that he has been suspended without pay.
"Sometimes you just have to turn the meter off and do what's right."
The hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20.
Prof. Lukacs' response to recent U of M media release (pdf)
Contains links to various other documents.