Résumé Errors Forgiven

February 16, 2012

Dawood Farahi will keep his job as president of Kean University -- even though the Board of Trustees there apparently confirmed that several of his résumés contained inaccuracies.

The faculty union at Kean -- which for years has clashed with Farahi -- asked for a board review by submitting a series of résumés for Farahi that professors had obtained and that referred to published articles that apparently never were published and, in one case, a job that he never held. Farahi has acknowledged that these summaries of his experience were inaccurate, but has blamed unnamed staff members for somehow creating the documents with these claims. Many faculty and student leaders have charged that it is antithetical to academic values for a university to be led by someone with false accomplishments on a résumé.

The Kean board -- which hired outside lawyers to look into the claims -- issued a statement late Wednesday backing Farahi's continuation as president. The board statement argued that the mistakes were made long ago and don't justify a dismissal now.

"The board notes that the investigation identified instances, most decades old, where Dr. Farahi exhibited carelessness that is not consistent with today's rigorous academic environment at Kean. The board does not condone these mistakes made by Dr. Farahi; in fact, we deplore them. But the board recognizes that none of the investigator’s findings is material to Dr. Farahi’s successful employment as president of Kean," the statement said. "Indeed, under Dr. Farahi’s tenure, the university has made significant and measurable progress, and our students now reap the benefits of an education system focused primarily on their success."

During public discussions of the situation in recent weeks, some student leaders have complained that they would have faced punishments, under Kean's rules for academic integrity, for the kind of errors found in their president's biographical statements. The board statement Wednesday night appeared to respond to that line of argument. "The board also determined that Kean University lacks a comprehensive, university-wide academic integrity policy. The existing policy applies solely to students," the board said. "As such, the board now directs the University Senate and the vice president of academic affairs to work together to research, develop and present for board consideration in May a comprehensive academic integrity policy that reflects the ideals and values of all members of [the] Kean University community."

The board statement also said that trustees had discussed "more recent allegations transmitted via e-mail to board members earlier this week." But the statement did not provide any details on those allegations. Further, the statement said that the board has "confidence" in Farahi, and "now considers this matter to be resolved."

While the statement did not refer to dissenting views on the board, The Star-Ledger reported that the statement was adopted by a vote of 7 to 4, with one abstention.

Kean also released a brief statement from Farahi, which said in its entirety: "I am grateful for the board’s continued support and leadership. I take full responsibility for the errors I have made, and I apologize for the negative attention that I have brought to the university. I will continue the board’s vision for Kean University and its students. Now it is time to focus our energy on the challenges and the opportunities ahead."

Faculty leaders could not be reached after the board vote. But the Star-Ledger quoted James Castiglione, who leads the Kean Federation of Teachers, as saying that Farahi has "zero legitimacy." The union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, posted online many of the documents it obtained about Farahi.

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