In this week’s LEO, Christopher Hall questions whether or not Robert Felner was a change agent, class clown or criminal. And he tells the story of the now-ironic University of Louisville search that brought Felner to the river city.
Did the University of Louisville vet Robert Felner? Did anyone within the administration bother to check his references or speak with former employers? Obviously not. And the record shows that Jim Ramsey never bothered to dig into his past.
It is becoming more and more clear by the day that the legislature and other state officials will need to step in at UofL in order to clean this mess up.
Former U of L dean accused of throwing spitballs and belittling colleagues, not to mention mishandling federal grants
The University of Louisville posted a nationwide job search in 2003, looking to find a new dean to oversee the College of Education and Human Development. The man they found for the job: Robert Felner.
Given Felner would eventually become the subject of dozens of grievances during his tenure at Louisville — not to mention the target of a federal investigation — a few requirements listed in the job ad now seem more than a little ironic: a record of successful interaction with faculty, staff and students; strong interpersonal, organizational and communication skills, and the ability to work effectively with internal and external constituents; a high standard of professional integrity and a strong sense of professional ethics.
Even before arriving at U of L, Felner’s record of academic administration was spotty at best, having been removed outright from one leadership position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and having had his departure from another leadership position at Auburn University met with relief.
Yet Ramsey and other administrators continue to defend their actions. In a recent letter to faculty and university trustees, Ramsey asserts that Felner’s “references were very good” (never mind the fact that Felner’s former boss in Illinois, Emanuel Donchin, says U of L never contacted him regarding their prospective new hire).
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