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March 14, 2002 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-14

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 14, 2002

Continued from Page JA
way. We try to help them and do all we
can, but our recent experience has been
very poor.
"The number (of complaints) which
leads to a formal grievance procedure is
less than half of the ones we hear about,
because there is almost no record of a
grievance changing something," Kaplan
said. "I can think of one case in the last
10 years in which a procedure was cor-
rected. It is the one case I know of in
which the grievance procedure led to an
even half-hearted remedy."
Kaplan said the perception of hope-
lessness is compounded by fears of
"We certainly know of a general pat-
tern that those who fight vigorously
face retaliation," Kaplan said. "They
lose one privilege or another."
"In one case, there was a lawsuit by
a professor who, when the law was
changed to end mandatory retirement
at age 70, this professor decided to stay
on, and the University moved his
office to a very inconvenient location,"
he said. "Very active protestors know
that they are unwelcome to the admin-
istration and that the administration

will do them no favors at all. The fear
of retaliation is strong."
Career or complaint?
One professor who spoke asked to
remain anonymous, "fearful of reprisal
from the administration and faculty."
The professor said two things tend to
happen when a faculty member files a
"First, there is no salary increase,
number two is your lab space
shrinks. How can you do experi-
ments? Essentially, you are kicked
out of your lab. Another is to give
you the course no one wants to teach.
Essentially, it is to make your life
miserable," the professor said.
"These seem like mild things, but
they are one thing after another and
they are very demoralizing."
The professor said counterclaims are
also among the University's tactics.
"They create a paper trail which is
very misleading and full of lies. If you
do very well teaching in 10 courses
and you do badly in one course, it is
that course that will come up again and
"The University has made it clear
one way or the other that they could
release it at any time. It is a nightmare.

I think (administrators) have the sense
they are invulnerable. ... Every person
I know who has filed a grievance," had
met with some sort of problem which
this professor had. "It is blackmail. It is
the kind of thing you read about in the
Yakuza. Taxpayers' money is support-
ing (University) lawyers and professors
can't afford to litigate.
"Many scientists don't have the
training in politics. They are the easiest
targets to be put into legal situations,'
because they don't have any experi-
ence. Some of them are even duped
into self-incrimination.
"We are talking about lives
destroyed. Mobility in academia is
very limited."
The professor said there is consider-
able motivation for administrators to
move hard and fast.
"There is tough competition for
these jobs and they are going to do
anything they can to keep the money
flowing and to keep their turf," the pro-
fessor said. "Anything to get as much
grant money as possible."
"Faculty. who are trying to make a
career are afraid of speaking out. There
are many faculty who are living in a
state of harassment or fear. It's pretty
much a culture of intimidation."
Professors who are new to the Uni-
versity or are not American citizens are
sometimes less likely to speak out, the
professor said.
"I remember a guy who didn't
want to go back to Eastern Europe a
while ago. Sometimes there is an off-

the-boat syndrome. Some of these
people don't want to talk because
they are afraid of being targeted
again. One of the people I know is
pregnant again and doesn't want any
part of it," the professor said. "Many
are miserable."
"There's other faculty at Michigan
who are terrified, especially women,"
Murnane said.
"If you bring in money, it doesn't

"The problem is that they don't
have an effective means of griev-
ance," she said. "If we filed a griev-
ance against the dean, he is the first
person the grievances go to, so there
is no way to file a grievance against
the dean."
Ann Arbor lawyer Marian Faupel
successfully represented a discrimi-
nation case last year against the Uni-
versity's Department of Public

"When I decided to leave they tried to
confiscate my research equipment. It's
not the norm. It would be like trying to
confiscate someone's violin."
- Margaret Murnane
Electrical Engineering Professor

matter if you're an asshole," she said.
"It's a situation just like in a big cor-
poration. I do think there are admin-
istration people at Michigan who are
afraid. ... The chairs and the vice-
provost back each other up."
Murnane said she met with chal-
lenges when she tried to leave the Uni-
versity of Michigan.
"When I decided to leave they tried
to confiscate my research equipment.
It's not the norm. It would be like try-
ing to confiscate someone's violin."
Murnane identified the same prob-
lem other professors had.

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The University "generally hires a
very large law firm and it's not a very
level playing field," Faupel said. "They
have unlimited resources."
"The defense of any employer to a
whistleblower action is that you
attempt to destroy the person;' Faupel
said. "They will generally trump up
poor performance reports."
The plaintiff often has to suffer
through a very painful time, and they
keep people under surveillance during
proceedings. In almost every single
case, the employee is victimized."
Faupel agreed with the faculty who
said the lack of a viable grievance
process prompts lawsuits.
"If the University devoted the same
sort of resources to solving the problem
as avoiding liability, then I don't think
they'd have this problem," Faupel said.
The Kauffman file
A plagiarism suit brought against
the University by Aerospace Engineer-
ing Prof. Charles Kauffman has
become a flashpoint in the discussion
on how grievances against the Univer-

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sity are handled. Kauffman side-
stepped the normal grievance process
with his claim, opting instead to file
suit when he disagreed with an investi-
gation into his claim - which was
against the chair of his department,
David Hyland - by Judith Nowack,
who works in the office of the vice
president for research. The case will go
to trial in Washtenaw County Circuit
Court in November if a settlement is
not reached.
The AAUP wrote a critical analy-
sis of Nowack's report, claiming key
people were not contacted in an
attempt to cover up evidence of pla-
giarism, but the University stood by
the report.
"People who can verify the
account were not contacted by
Nowak. If you don't seek evidence,
you're not going to find it," said biol-
ogy professor and AAUP member
John Lehman.
After the complaints were filed,
Kauffman said he received no raises.
Hyland said it was a result of poor
teaching performance; Kauffman
claims it was retaliation for the com-
Jeff Frumkin, assistant provost
and director of academic human
resources, offered Hyland the option
of "flat-lining" Kauffman's salary.
Hyland said in a deposition last year
that Frumkin told him "there were
instances in the college in which
faculty were difficult to work with,
that they were unproductive and
embittered in some way and it had
often been the practice to disengage.
such faculty and flat-line their
Hyland said in the deposition that he
did not agree with the "whole idea of
marginalizing or putting the trouble-
some faculty member off to the side.
... It was a practice that was carried
forward in other departments in the
Frumkin said the no-raise policy is
not often used, and that Hyland con-
tacted him to discuss the Kauffman
issue. He said he does not often
become involved in conflicts within
departments and discusses issues such
as Kauffman's with department heads
"a couple, three times a year at the
tops. All of those discussions are not
because an individual has a grievance
against the University and it's a very
infrequent discussion.
"I have on occasion had discussions
with department chairs about whether
or not they have justification for rec-
ommending a low merit increase. I dis-
cuss this on a case to case basis,"
Frumkin said, adding "the final deci-
sion is always made by those individu-
als and the college. With respect to
retaliation, I would always counsel a
department chair that the increase be
based on the merit" of the professor.
"They need to be sensitive to those
Frumkin said he was unaware of fac-
ulty members feeling they have been
intimidated or retaliated against.
"I've not had a conversation with a
faculty member in which they dis-
cussed being retaliated against in their
merit increase," Frumkin said. "Gener-
ally, the department chairs try to focus
on what kind of assistance they can
provide the faculty member to help
them in their performance.
"Do I think that it is inconceivable
that there was retaliation in some
cases? It would be Pollyanna-ish to
think that it couldn't have happened,"
Frumkin said. "Somewhere along the
way some faculty member didn't
receive a merit increase because of
bias from their department chair? Of
course that happens. If we can learn
about it and find out there's some
validity to it, will we tolerate it? No.
Do I think it happens in the main, or

on a routine basis? No."
Frumkin played down the fear of
"I understand that people build up
these kinds of perceptions of biases.
It's not unique to universities. All we
can do is to try and act on the com-
plaints we receive," Frumkin said. "All
sorts of myths build up in a department
about what can happen. I hope those
are all myths."
Suing 'U'
Since 1997, there have been 15 law-
suits brought against the University
specifically alleging retaliation. But
many suits are settled out of court for
undisclosed sums.
The number of lawsuits the Univer-
sity settles out of court was not readily
available, but Dan Sharphorn of the
General Counsel's office said "virtual-
ly all civil lawsuits are settled out of
court, so the trial itself is an unusual
Sharphorn said retaliation is a com-
mon claim.
"Retaliation is one of the best claims
a plaintiff's lawyer can make. It's easy
to get past summary judgment, it's eas-
ier to get to court," Sharphorn said.
Converse to the situation with
professors, Sharphorn said some
administrators and department
chairs fear taking action against fac-
ulty with whom they have rocky
re.ntinnchi.a, c ennnc thew are afri

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