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A Former Dean Comments on the “Freedom and Responsibility Proposal” at UW

David Dale
Professor of Medicine
Former Dean, School of Medicine

After your call last week, I reviewed the pending code changes. I apologize that I did not get back to you, just very busy at this time.  My feeling is that the language changes are ok, though there is still vagueness to the wording and the key issue is what will really happen differently now. I sense that with Ana Marie as Provost, things are much better, just because she is such a hard-working, honest person. I appreciate her willingness to communicate her thinking.

 

In looking over this issue again, a few things seem particularly important to me reflecting on the Aprikyan case:

  • ·         The Code states that the academic freedom does not include the right to infringe on the academic freedoms of other faculty. There should be more specifics and about this and the penalty for misuse of the protection provided by academic freedom for personal gain.
  • ·         The Code gives a pathway for handling of accusation of misconduct etc, but it does not specify the penalty to the administration for not following the code. I believe that if the Code is not followed, the process should be declared null and void and that there should be some compensation to the persons harmed.
  • ·         The requirement for departmental review of accusations before initiation of a university process should be made clearer in the section on handling of accusation of misconduct. Administrators should be required to take a course in the principles and specifics of the Faculty Code and there should be an advisory panel to help faculty and administrators to know how to use it and apply it fairly. In this case, my departmental  administrators have acknowledged to me that they did not know their responsibilities.
  • ·         The present adjudication system is unfair. In the Aprikyan adjudication, no attorneys were to be present. Aprikyan had no attorney inside or outside the hearings helping him and had to present his case on his own, which he did well. On the other hand, the administration always had at least two attorneys at each session and made extensive use of an outside legal firm to prepare their case and the materials presented to the Adjudication Panel. It was clear from attending these hearings that the outside attorneys briefed the UW administrators of their presentations to match the materials they had prepared. It was grossly unfair to end this process by saying if you want justice, you have to go to the public legal system.
  • ·         For shared governance, the lengthy Adjudication Proceedings overseen by an outside attorney/judge who was  jointly selected and appointed  by the Secretary of the Faculty and the UW President should have been sufficient to resolve this case. The Panel reached a unanimous decision and confirmed their decision when asked to do so by the President. At the end, however, the President was conflicted, seriously conflicted by the potential of siding against the Provost and the Dean of Medicine.  It appears that he could not “afford” to accept the decision of the Adjudication Panel.  It is easy to surmise why the President might have made his decision, but his stated reasons for rejecting the Panel’s decision were not logical or sound. Thus there was a failure of this internal judicial system, and his decision was not  impartial. He should have accepted to work and decision of the Faculty Panel.
  • ·          How does the UW prevent this kind of injustice from reoccurring? How have we shown that we collectively or as a University learned from this case? Is change prevented because any change will be seen as acknowledging that a wrong occurred?

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