Sunday, March 17, 2013
Ind. Law - "Purdue misconduct policies questioned: National professors group claims process gives too much power to administration"
Eric Weddle reports today in a long story for the Lafayette Courier & Press. Here are a few quotes:
Crippling legal costs, banishment from campus and a muddled path to appeal.
That’s what some Purdue University professors faced during investigations or sanctions for alleged wrongdoings during the past two years, according to faculty leaders and an outside academic organization.
The cause, they say, is university policies that have limited faculty input and in some cases effectively made administrators judge and jury.
A series of nonpublic disciplinary cases led the American Association of University Professors to issue a string of letters in the past year criticizing the university’s due process and asking President Mitch Daniels to institute changes.
“If the administration wishes to impose a severe sanction on a faculty member, or a dismissal of a faculty in one instance — it should prove them all in a hearing in front of a faculty body and demonstrate body of proof for the cause of the severe sanction,” B. Robert Kreiser, the association’s national associate secretary, told the Journal & Courier this month. “It is remarkable, given that Purdue is a major university, that they have such deficient policies when it comes to affording faculty members due process.
“The way in which Purdue regulations operate, it appears that Purdue faculty members are guilty, then need to prove they are not.” * * *
While the administration and faculty advocates may not see eye to eye, those involved say common ground is emerging.
Marcus Rogers, president of the AAUP Purdue chapter and a cyber forensics professor, said Daniels and [Provost Tim] Sands are listening to concerns and expects some changes in the next year. Daniels, who began reaching out last year after his selection as Purdue’s 12th president, wants to understand the disagreements, Rogers said. * * *
Rogers is hopeful that Daniels’ recent decision to hire in-house counsel and reduce the university’s historic relationship with Stuart & Branigin, a Lafayette firm, will create cooler heads when questions or accusations over conduct arise. Rogers and other believe that until now administrators had too-easy access to lawyers on retainer, which led to undue and costly legal actions against faculty.
Between April 2011 and December 2012, $1.58 million was paid to Stuart & Branigin for “legal issues resulting from administration action against any staff or faculty member,” according to documents obtained through an open records request and provided to the Journal & Courier.
An additional $330,000 was identified in additional expenses related to these cases. Specifics of the legal issues were not included in the records request.
In the past three years, Purdue paid Stuart & Branigin $6.77 million for services, in addition to hiring other law firms.
For Rogers, at least two other policies raise concerns, persona non grata orders and an executive committee that creates policy.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 17, 2013 04:25 PM
Posted to Indiana Law