From: "Mitchell Langbert"
To: "Sue O'Malley"
Cc: "KC Johnson"
Subject: Karkhanis, Johnson and Yousry
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 21:17:21 -0500
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Dear UFS Chair O'Malley:
Further to my earlier e-mails, I would like to respectfully ask you two additional questions for my blog. I hope you don't mind.
As I am reading through your complaint concerning Professor Karkhanis, I noticed the following statement:
"Contrary to the defendants' Utterances and implications, UFS Chair Susan O'Malley's duties included representing all faculty of CUNY (including Yousry, who was then a member of the faculty) each of whom she believes are entitled to due process."
I am somewhat curious about the link between this point and your comments about Professor KC Johnson that were recorded several years ago. In particular, you were unsupportive of Professor Johnson's promotion bid at that time and publicly stated so.
Do you feel that you were remiss in your treatment of Professor Johnson? Or did you have a change of heart since then concerning your role in representing all faculty as chair of the UFS?
Second, do you feel that your treatment of Yousry was equivalent to your treatment of Johnson? The complaint about Johnson involved collegiality, and failing to represent him, you voiced concern about him, saying that it was a difficult question. In contrast, Yousry was convicted of terrorist-related activity.
Third I am curious as to the implications of this point for CUNY policy. The departmental chairs on rare occasion make frivolous decisions based on collegiality and other pretexts that are inconsistent with serious academic criteria. If you claim to represent all faculty how do you reconcile the representation of a chair who makes a frivolous decision and a capable junior faculty member who is terminated on the frivolous grounds?
Thanks for your help and clarification. I will blog your answer along with this inquiry.
Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.
Addendum: KC Johnson just reminded me that in 2003 Erin O'Connor of Critical Mass called O'Malley's attacks on Johnson "libelous": O'Connor writes:
"For example, it is now acceptable at CUNY for top administrators to libel those junior faculty they seek to fire. Susan O'Malley, English professor at Kingsborough Community College, president of the CUNY University Faculty Senate, and ex oficio member of the Board of Trustees, published a statement on Johnson's case in the Senate Digest. Here is the text:
"'As the faculty member on the Board of Trustees, although without a vote, I first heard that the Board was being asked to vote on Professor Robert David Johnson's promotion and early tenure as the February 24, 2003 Board meeting was convening. A sheet of paper announcing an addendum to the University Report was placed at my seat. We were to vote on Professor Johnson's promotion to full professor effective 1/1/03 and his tenure effective 9/1/03. This action had not been presented to the Board Committee on Faculty, Staff, Administration for discussion and vote, nor had it been placed on the Board Calendar so that faculty could address it at the Board Public Hearing. The only discussion at the February Board of Trustees meeting consisted of a statement from Trustee Pesile that she had been trying to bring this matter to the Board's attention since October. However, Trustee Wiesenfeld had made known to the New York Sun his views supporting Professor Johnson.
"'Chancellor Goldstein recommended to the Board that it overturn the decision by the Brooklyn College faculty and the President of Brooklyn College. He said that after having received a complaint from Professor Johnson's attorney, he had given Professor Johnson's file to three professors who had distinguished records, and who had voted to promote Johnson to full professor after his having taught for three and one half years at Brooklyn College. The three professors who voted to promote Professor Johnson are Pamela Sheingorn, Professor of History at Baruch and Executive Officer of the Doctoral Program in Theater at the Graduate Center; David Reynolds, University Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College; and Louis Masur, chair of the City College History Department.
"'It is not my place to judge Professor Johnson's scholarship. A historian, he has written several reputable monographs. However, although he has one other monograph in press, he has not published since his tenure clock started at Brooklyn College. He was scheduled to have another year at Brooklyn College before coming up for tenure. While I agree with the AAUP that collegiality, a reason cited in the. Johnson case, should not be the sole criterion for the denial of promotion, as I talk to Brooklyn College faculty I realize that this is an extremely complex case.
"What kind of message does this give to faculty coming up for promotion? That it is better for a faculty member who anticipates any difficulty to hire a private lawyer and ask the Chancellor to form his own committee to recommend promotion and tenure?.
[I note that that Professor Johnson's record at that point far exceeded the number of publications that Professor O'Malley pretended and that Professor O'Malley's statement at this very critical point in Johnson's career was utterly untrue and a defamatory lie. Given her reckless disregard for the truth in this matter, O'Malley should hang her head in perpetual shame rather than engage in litigation about her own flimsy career.]
"'As Chair of the University Faculty Senate and as one who is concerned with governance issues, I believe that the Chancellor's action does a disservice to shared governance at CUNY. On March 25, 2003, th UFS plenary voted to support a Resolution on the Integrity of the Promotion and Tenure Process which was written in response to the Chancellor's grant of early promotion and therefore tenure to Professor Johnson. Chancellor Goldstein's action overrode the decisions of the three committees at Brooklyn College involved with the promotion and tenure process, as well as the decision of the President of Brooklyn College. The UFS resolution "calls upon the Chancellor to affirm a policy of non-interference with established campus and university governance and contractual procedures, including appeals and grievances."
[Professor O'Malley, with respect to Professor Johnson, saw her role as defender of academic processes rather than representative of "all faculty of CUNY". It seems that Professor O'Malley carries a many-edged sword, none of the edges being particularly truthful.]
"'Susan G. O'Malley'"