Fresno State Says ‘Unauthorized Party’ Contributed to Cancellation of Faculty Search

California State University at Fresno pushed back Thursday against faculty claims that a search for an assistant professor in Middle Eastern studies was canceled earlier this spring over the Middle Eastern backgrounds and Palestinian research interests of final candidates.

“In the Edward Said Professorship search, we did not recognize improper search approvals and search committee formation in a timely manner,” the university said in a statement. “No department had actually approved the search, and the search committee was not formed by an election of the department members as is required by our policies. We admit we were too slow and should have canceled this search much earlier based on these academic policy violations.”

In addition to the election and approval issues, the university said it discovered that an “unauthorized party was participating in the search committee’s deliberations, and that this party was sharing perspectives influencing the committee, again a clear violation of our academic policy.”

Lynette Zelezny, university provost, said in an interview that the university heard nothing from and was certainly not pressured by any group or individual about the search, as has been alleged. Zelezny expressed regret that the process got so far along before she became aware it was problematic, but said Fresno State must follow policy.

She declined to comment on the identity of any unauthorized party involved in the confidential search, saying it “might” be a personnel issue. The professorship, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a private donor, was initially approved as a philosophy department search, yet there were no philosophers on the search committee, she added.

“We were way too slow in recognizing that we had an improper search committee in terms of no election and other factors,” Zelezny said. “We’ve learned from this. … This is very unusual -- typically we don’t see these kinds of issues in our searches.”

The chair of the search committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Vida Samiian, the current Middle East studies director who resigned in protest from that post last week over what she alleged was Fresno State’s buckling to political interference in the search, remained unconvinced that the university had acted out of concern for policy alone.

“As I said before, there was no problem with the search committee or the process until the list of finalists was announced,” she said via email. “This was an interdisciplinary search for an interdisciplinary program. The procedural error they claim justifies canceling the search (having a search committee that is appointed, not elected) has been in fact the norm and past practice for interdisciplinary searches. Moreover, membership of this search committee was announced in the faculty meeting of the Middle East studies program and approved by the faculty.”

Samiian guessed that she was the “unauthorized” party involved in the search, but said she was assisting the search committee in an advising capacity as founder and director of the Middle East studies program. Zelezny’s office “was aware of this and authorized me to use the software to access files,” she said. “I did not participate in the interviews or the deliberations for selecting among the finalists.”

Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

New Guide on Undergraduate STEM Education

The Association of American Universities, which works, in part, to improve math, science, engineering and technology education for undergraduates, this week released a report on “Essential Questions and Data Sources for Continuous Improvement of Undergraduate STEM Teaching and Learning.” It includes questions to aid faculty discussions on STEM education at the course, department, division and campus level on pedagogy, scaffolding and cultural change. There are key data sources and other tools to guide institutional decisions, along with information on evaluating quality and effectiveness of instruction.

Mary Sue Coleman, association president, in statement called the report a “useful resource for research universities as they continue to work at improving the effectiveness of undergraduate STEM teaching and learning.” The new document complements AAU’s earlier “Framework for Systemic Change in Undergraduate STEM Teaching and Learning.”

Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Librarian behind list of 'predatory' publishers still faces harassment online

Months after deleting controversial lists of “predatory” journals and publishers, the librarian behind them still faces anonymous harassment online.

Academics focus too much on what they should do and too little on what they've already done (essay)

Why do people in academe tend to downplay what we have achieved, asks J. E. Sumerau, for the sake of some future possibility?

Job Tags: 
Ad keywords: 
Editorial Tags: 
Show on Jobs site: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Disable left side advertisement?: 

Princeton professor who criticized Trump cancels events, saying she's received death threats

A Princeton professor who recently criticized Trump in a commencement speech cancels planned public speaking events, saying she's received death threats for her comments.

Apple app curriculum offered at six community college systems

Apple selects six community colleges to receive curriculum on creating apps. One president took the course and said it was easy to learn -- even though she hadn't taken a programming course in 30 years.

U of Utah offers technical certificates to liberal arts graduates

U of Utah offers technical certificates to liberal arts graduates

Maryville U offers intensive iPad training for faculty members

Administrators at the Missouri university realized that an initiative to give every student an iPad wouldn't pay off if professors didn't buy in. Its hefty investment in training has been rewarded with significant adoption and strong student results.

Trial and Error: University of Arizona's digital asset management

The biggest challenge in the University of Arizona's efforts to consolidate its digital assets was getting organized. 

Two Virginia universities form online degree partnership

As reported in Inside Higher Ed, two Virginia universities have formed a partnership to launch an online education initiative to boost degree completion in the Commonwealth. George Mason University and Old Dominion University launched the Online Virginia Network, an online portal where students can browse both institutions' online programs and calculate the cost of earning a degree. 


Subscribe to RSS - faculty
Back to Top