Amid controversy about one of two finalists’ involvement in military prison systems, the University of Missouri at Columbia has halted its search for a new division executive director in its College of Education.
Dan Clay, college dean, sent out an email last week saying he "decided to not fill the position at this time" after receiving a recommendation from a faculty search committee and "input from other stakeholders,” The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
The announcement followed a protest and additional community backlash related to retired Col. Larry James’ consideration for the post, after his name surfaced as a strong candidate earlier this month. Opponents cited the former Army psychologist’s work at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as disqualifying for an academic position. James, dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University, wrote about his experiences reforming both prisons’ treatment of detainees as their director of behavioral health in a memoir called Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib. He maintains that numerous independent investigations have revealed no wrongdoing on his part.
A spokeswoman for Mizzou’s College of Education, told the Tribune it was "really a decision about both candidates," which also included Matthew Burns, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Department of Educational Psychology. "Neither of the individuals was the right person at this time.”
James did not respond to a request for comment.