Colorado Faculty in “Fear” of Administration?

A group of faculty members believes the University of Colorado administration has created a sense of fear on the Boulder campus with recent cases in the sociology and philosophy departments. The five-person faculty affairs committee within the Boulder Faculty Assembly condemned the university administration for its handling of cases involving now-retired sociology professor Patti Adler, associate philosophy professor Dan Kaufman, and associate philosophy professor David Barnett.

The committee wrote that in actions taken against those professors, CU leaders showed “blatant disregard for the rights, interests, and well-being of the faculty…. These precipitous and punitive actions taken against faculty without due process and then often quickly reversed show that the administration is exercising extremely poor judgment in its handling of faculty affairs.”

So reports the Daily Camera.  Of particular focus appears to be the university’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH). The ODH, readers may recall, has been involved in a number of recent controversies at the University of Colorado (no surprise, given its charge), including that of David Barnett (previously), who says he is seeking whistleblower protection for investigating the ODH’s handling of a case involving philosophy graduate students.

A separate article explains that another Boulder Faculty Assembly committee had been tasked by the Faculty Assembly with evaluating the policies and procedures of the ODH. This committee proposed faculty oversight over the ODH, but this was rejected by university officials. The proposed oversight committee would have “monitored ODH cases to ensure uniformity across departments and offices on campus… [and] review disciplinary recommendations.” The proposal’s authors write: “Now, no office is equipped to handle grievances about the ODH.”

A previous article in the Daily Camera reports that “several CU faculty members — who did not want to be named because they feared retaliation from the university — said they believe the campus is taking action against… Barnett because administrators don’t want to appear soft on sexual harassment or assault.” However, the same article reports that others believe that when it comes to cracking down on sexual misconduct, “the university could be doing more.”

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