I read this article in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education: Yale Case Spotlights the Murky Business of Demotion by Alexander Kafka.
As a Professor of Practice, 80% of my career experience has been as an engineer in industry where doing something egregious like committing harrassment, financial improprieties, favoritism, plagiarism, substance -related misbehaviors or other serious matters led to being fired. What I’m slowly and disbelievingly learning is that similar improprieties, even breaking the law, do not have the same consequences in higher education, specifically for tenured professors.
While colleges are required to report rape or molestation charges to law enforcement, “the other vast majority of cases, those in the gray zone – alleged misbehavior that is grave but not heinous – to which committees and administrators bring their judgement to bear.” These committees and adminstrators most often consider the cases in complete confidentiality.
So if your faculty colleague committed a ‘crime’ (let’s hypothesize a gross misuse of funding or discrimination against under represented students in their lab) the arbitration of their misdeed and punishment (if any) would be kept under wraps. “Committee members are tight-lipped.” While I understand the need for fairness during the evaluation of the facts, I do not like the idea of a university not releasing information about misdeeds their faculty have been found guilty of. This is especially important for public universities.
It seems that at many institutions of higher education, the accused faculty’s,”… work is great!” and that, as Tatiana Melguizo was quoted as saying, “deans and presidents are so focused on the prestige, the money, and these start professors that bring millions in funding from NIH and NSF that they forget about their mission sometimes, and they forget about the values, and that’s when institutions start to lose the moral fabric.”