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Due Process at the University Of Washington

 YegerPaul Yager

Professor,  Bioengineering

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Dear Paul,                                                   Leaving aside Michael Katze’s presumed innocence, there are real concerns about how the UW handles cases like this.                                                                                        Judging Michael Katze should be done by the duly constituted judicial procedures set out in the Faculty Code.  Sadly, the UW process violates many of the principles not only of faculty governance but of American law. Are you aware of the Aprikyan case?                                                                                            Guilt is not the issue. I underwent a similar process several years ago. The investigating agency, UCIRO, reports not to the faculty but to a UW attorney who holds the role of Vice Provost.  The complaint about me was instigated as part of a process by then Vice Provost, Steve Olswang.                                                                                                           Olswang’s intent was to force me to testify against an employee. When I refused to commit perjury, I was told by my chair that retribution, possibly leading to loss of tenure, would be taken. The administration followed through. The investigation included leading questions worthy of the Republican pursuit of Mrs Clinton .., including charges of sexual abuse, misuse of grant, funds and, very oddly, antisemitism. I was not told what what the charges were by the UCIRO attorney. After unauthorized access to my email. a letter was sent around campus claiming I had a psychiatric disorder.                                                    Olswang informed my wife and I that, unless I agreed to the perjury and even though UCIRO had failed to to substantiate the specific charges, he was going to find me guilty.                                            With help from a prominent civil rights attorney and after a threat by a writer at the Seattle Times, the Vice Provost backed off.                                                                                                       The UW, after its audit, added funds back to my grants because of the finding that the UW not I had misused my funds. Olswang wrote a letter retracting his claim that I had a mental disorder. In the meantime, Steve Olswag had done me vast harm, something that I likely will never full recover from. Worse, the records of the investigation were never expunged and were retrieved recently by a relative of mine using a public records request.                                                                                            So Paul, I am upset that Norm Arkans, the UW Head of Public Relations, represented the UW as having already found Michael guilty. Mr. Arkans does not report to the Faculty Senate and is, presumably, not privy to the work the Faculty Adjudication panel reviewing the charges against Professor Katze.

 

 Dear Colleagues;
I and my laboratory members have been talking about nothing but the Katze case for well over 24 hours now.  This case is both infuriating and humiliating—perhaps the worst in my 29 years at UW.   I think we are angry about two things:
1) That we are learning about this at a late point in the proceedings and from an outside source (Buzzfeed).  I can certainly appreciate that UW would not want this to go public while the case was half-baked, but it turns out that is what happened anyway.
2) That the promotion and tenure process in the School of Medicine failed to deny Katze tenure when there was an easy separation point from him, despite the fact that there appeared to have been ample evidence that some of his behavior in his lab was well outside academic best practices.
I hope that when the smoke clears, we still consider that it is good to have faculty members at UW who bring research funding to UW and are doing important work.  However, we need a performance review system that encourages active investigation of behavior and ethics, and, perhaps, starts from a position of assuming that we faculty are not behaving ethically, and requires that we prove that we are.
As of today, I believe that existing policies and those in the chain of command who should have enacted them failed UW.  I hope that UW takes a definitive and strong position on the resolution of this case, and implements formal procedures that investigate ethical behavior in the retention of faculty (and administrators), no matter how good their external reputation and funds-gathering track record.
Happy 4th of July.
Paul Yager
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Paul Yager, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Other links the reader may wish to read are the long story of Andrew Aprikyan.  He was inestigated for allegedly misusing and publishing data uisng nIH funds.  The NIH eventually found Andrew guilty.  However, a UW Faculty Panel founf the UW process had violated Andrew’s rights and that he neded a new hearing by the faculty that would have followed the due process set out in the Faculty Code.  Mark Emmert, then UW President, and Phyllis Wise then our Provost, overode the panel ..going so far to call into question the expertise of a very elite group of faculty.  Phyllis Wise went on to be fired for a similar abuse she committed as Chancellor at the University of Illinois.

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