Felner Speaks, Ramsey Has Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Two days ago University of Louisville president Jim Ramsey didn’t know anything about a potentially fraudulent Ph.D. awarded to Robert Felner crony John Deasy. But now he knows everything and is able to say that UofL broke no rules?

Haha. Wait for it.

Yesterday Ramsey wrote a letter to the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that said, “we do not believe any violations have occurred.” And then in interviews UofL spokespeople say he was referring to possible violations of residency requirements for doctoral candidates. Ha.

Head spinning yet? Here comes the good part.

But writing yesterday to the commission’s president, Belle Wheelan, Ramsey noted that in 2007, U of L carved out an exception to the agency’s rule.

The exception allows graduate students to transfer more credits “under the rarest of circumstances” when, for example, a faculty member transfers to U of L and brings a graduate student with him.

In his letter, Ramsey said it would appear that the doctoral degree awarded by U of L to Deasy, who had studied under Felner at the University of Rhode Island, “may be reflective of this rare exception … permissible with the approval of the graduate dean, which was given in this case.”

Wheelan was not in her office yesterday and said by e-mail that she could not comment on Ramsey’s letter.

The letter says that the degree was awarded in 2007, when university records show it was in fact conferred in 2004; Inman said that may have been a typographical error.

So Ramsey created some “rare exception” that no one else knew about. And he makes up dates on the fly (like 2007 is really a typo, come on).

He’s totally stepping on his you-know-what here.  There’s nothing else that can be said.

Now for the Robert Felner excitement.

Scott C. Cox said there was no connection between the contract and Felner’s efforts to help the doctoral student, John Deasy, win his Ph.D.

No, no connection at all between $375,000 and a doctorate in four months. It would be wrong to think such a thing about a man who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal government and the University of Louisville (he admits he’s paying it back, obviously he stole it).

Cox noted that Deasy had worked on his doctorate for five years before that at the University of Rhode Island.

“It is regrettable that Dr. Deasy has been tainted by what is essentially a false allegation against Dr. Felner, and it is even more regrettable that the U of L has been tainted in any way, because it did nothing wrong,” he said.

A spade’s a spade. False accusations? Look at the hundreds of official documents I’ve published from open records requests at the University of Louisville. Look at Felner’s own history over the past three decades that encompasses losing jobs and being forced out for this very same crap.

A UofL-Felner Grievance & Shady Settlement

Take a look at a recent document we obtained from the University of Louisville. It’s a lengthy grievance (PDF Link) filed against Robert Felner by Bryant Stamford, former Chair of Health and Sport Sciences at UofL, that details attempts by Felner to prevent Stamford’s retirement, attempts to force a resignation, attempts to tamper with future employment opportunities and attempts to intimidate beyond belief.

Stamford was appointed Chair of the department by Felner and was the golden child for several months. At least until Stamford disagreed with Felner over his (Felner’s) attempt to keep department funds for himself. Then Felner blackballed him and went out of his way to make his life hell. Stamford details it all.

UofL legal counsel told Stamford he had to deal with Felner. Human Resources told him he had to deal with Felner. Provost Shirley Willihnganz told him he had to deal with Felner. Essentially screwing him no matter what.

So when the time came to address the grievance and it was clear Felner would lose, what happened? The University went behind closed doors and settled with Stamford in a ‘Letter of Understanding’ (PDF Link) signed by Stamford, Felner and Willihnganz.  All in exchange for Stamford’s withdrawal of the grievance against Felner. Rather than deal with Felner’s bullshit, Willihnganz kept him on and pushed Stamford aside.

The interesting terms of that letter are as follows:

Dr. Bryant Stamford agrees to withdraw his grievance against Dean Robert Felner and the University of Louisville on the following conditions:

1. Dr. Stamford will officially retire from the University of Louisville as of August 31, 2005. He will complete his current course work and department obligations, and will vacate his office by August 31, 2005.

6. Dr. Stamford and Dean Felner agree that the terms of this Letter of Understanding are confidential. If asked about the status of the grievance, Dr. Stamford and Dean Felner agree to respond that “the matter has been resolved.” Neither will provide any additional information.

7. It is Dr. Stamford’s intent that this Letter of Understanding serve as his notice to the University of Louisville and Provost Shirley Willihnganz that the formal process should be initiated to effect his retirement on August 31, 2005.

Interesting, isn’t it? Ramsey and Willihnganz boast that no grievance against Felner ever stuck. Reality is such that they just settled everything that came before them when they knew they were on the losing end.

So much for truly caring about faculty, staff and students at the University of Louisville. This is proof that Ramsey and Willihnganz condoned Felner’s behavior and stood up for him whenever possible.  They’re as responsible for the problems facing UofL as anyone else.

Felner-Deasy Update – Petrosko Off & More

We hear through the grapevine that Joseph Petrosko, chair of the Department of Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education at the University of Louisville, has decided to step down from the committee to review John Deasy’s doctorate.

Petrosko originally served on Deasy’s dissertation committee. Stepping down is a great move on his part and removes any conflict of interest.

Just unfortunate that Jim Ramsey didn’t have the sense about him to avoid a conflict of interest to begin with.

In related news, the University of Louisville Board of Trustees met yesterday and decided to back Jim Ramsey and Shirley Willihnganz in their “investigation” 100%.

The review was requested by the faculty senate in the wake of the ongoing federal investigation of former education dean Robert Felner, who is accused of misappropriating grant money.

The investigation, which became public in June, also has resulted in allegations involving Felner’s management of the college, including hiring and promotion practices and the awarding of at least one doctorate.

-SNIP-

The review, which the trustees discussed during a closed-door meeting before voting on it in open session, is scheduled to be completed in November.

The board asked that its staff, faculty and student members work with Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz to determine how the review will be conducted.

-SNIP-

“The board of trustees has the fullest faith in Jim and Shirley,” Porter said. “I’ve known these people now for several years, and they have the very best intent for this university.”

The letter sent by members of both senates agreed with Porter’s “assertion that the President and Provost care deeply about the welfare of the university’s faculty, staff and students.”

“Both the Faculty and Staff Senates have worked collegially and collaboratively with Jim and Shirley over the past five years, and we know that they are responsive to faculty and staff concerns,” it said.

We’ll leave it to you to point out the ironies here. Err… Okay, maybe we’ll point out one. If Jim and Shirley were worried about or the least bit responsive to faculty and staff concerns, then why on earth has this situation turned into a national embarrassment and all-around clusterfuck of epic proportions? It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest such a thing.

Want more proof that it’s crazy to think Jim Ramsey or Shirley Willihnganz give two flips about what really happens to people at the University of Louisville?

Read about it in our next story coming up in a little more than an hour.

And in other news, the University of Louisville could be in trouble with its accrediting agencies, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (Kudos to Andy Wolfson for giving credit where it was due to WHAS11!)

Thursday Afternoon Blah Relaxed 9/11 Stuff

Okay. So we’re kinda overwhelmed with stuff today. Four television appearances and all kinds of crap. No time to do what we love: blog like drunken losers. So, for that, we apologize. But in our defense, no one has sent us any fancy Orbit chewing gum as requested many days ago.

Greg Stumbo formally announced he’s running for Speaker of the House. He says he’s got 40 votes but in reality it’s only 16. Greg & Mary Karen: Don’t bullshit people, I can prove you wrong. I love you both but let’s get real here. Alessi: You know he doesn’t have th votes, so force these people to go on-the-record. [PolWatchers]

Hillary Clinton is coming to eastern Kentucky to help Bruce Lunsford on September 20. Bet Barry Obama won’t be mentioned at all for any reason, ever. Which is fine and dandy because this is Kentucky. [Joe Arnold]

Slutty Sarah Palin dolls? God. We almost threw up. And it’s not because we had got tipsy at lunch with a bunch of fancy Republicans on this most holy of holy days. [The Arena]

And more from The Arena’s Joe Gerth: WTF? Why are you jumping on Mitch McConnell’s talking points? You’re better than that, holmes. [The Arena]

U.S. Senate debate will be streamed live on KYPost.com at 9:10 A.M. Eastern this Saturday. So wake up early or whatever. We may liveblog it or comment on it or something. Maybe. [KY Post]

David Boswell was just named to the top list of United States Congressional races by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCC has added Boswell to their ‘Red to Blue’ progra that will help fund the race and make things much more competitive come November. [Press Release]

Hot rumor: We hear something is coming down the pike at the University of Louisville tomorrow that will make a lot of people happy. Particularly involves the fancy little committee that Jim Ramsey announced yesterday. Developing. [Fancy Reports]

The Robert Felner Story Hits the WaPo

Whoopsie Deasy! That’s right, kids– the Robert Felner/John Deasy story has finally hit the Washington Post!

It’s now only a matter of time until the you-know-what hits the fan.

This week, Kentucky media reported on questions raised about the awarding of Deasy’s doctorate as part of news coverage of a federal investigation centered on Robert Felner, the former dean of the university’s College of Education and Human Development. Felner was also Deasy’s academic adviser and chairman of his dissertation committee.

The university president, James Ramsey, announced the appointment of a six-member committee to review the awarding of Deasy’s degree. “Now we are dealing with an issue that strikes at the heart of our institutional integrity,” Ramsey said in a statement, adding: “If someone received a degree he did not earn, we would have no choice but to recommend rescinding that degree.”

Late yesterday, Deasy said: “If the university made errors in the awarding of the degree, I do hope they rescind it. My responsibility is to do everything I was advised and told to do. If I was advised wrong and given wrong information, the university needs to take responsibility for that. I certainly would not want anything unearned.”

Click here to read the rest…

The Courier-Journal editorial board chapped Jim Ramsey’s rear again today in a concise editorial about what’s stinking up the community of higher education at the University of Louisville:

Dr. Felner was a busy man. But what of the U of L college of which he was the steward? How many other doctorates awarded during his tenure were quickies? And what of the hard-working students who earned theirs according to the rules? Has their work been discredited?

Only a few weeks ago, Dr. Ramsey characterized charges against Dr. Felner as a lot of “anonymous crap.” Those hasty words, uttered in anger, indicate that the state of the university, at least in one major aspect, is not rosy at all.

His decision to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to review the Deasy matter is a good step. But correcting the Felner affair and repairing the College of Education’s reputation is going to take much more than that.

In related news, the Graduate Student Council at UofL have had enough and are standing up in outrage and unity.  Here’s an excerpt from an email sent to the GSC email list:

…President Ramsey has appointed a committee to look into this matter. The chair of the committee is our very own Dean Pierce of the Graduate School. However, the issue that I have with the committee is that Dr. Joe Petrosko is also on the committee. This is an issue because Dr. Petrosko was one of the people who signed Mr. Deasy’s dissertation; Dr. Petrosko was on his dissertation committee; Dr. Petrosko has already, at least once, declared his satisfaction with the process.

You don’t allow an alleged accomplice to sit on a jury. Whether the degree was earned or given, in my opinion as long as Dr. Petrosko sits on the committee investigating these allegations any outcome will be questioned. And the value and respect of your degree has lessened as long as Dr. Petrosko is part of any investigation.

-SNIP-

I think as students, and in particular students in CEHD we need to stand up for our work and I personally do not think Dr. Petrosko should be on the committee. We need to call for his resignation if the committee is to have any validity.

Finally, I think the GSC as a whole or at least the Executive Committee should meet and issue a statement as soon as possible asking for Dr. Petrosko’s resignation from this investigative committee.

UPDATE @ 9:44: Inside Higher Ed has taken notice.

Thursday. Winter’s Coming. So’s the Weekend.

What’s that? Oh, right, it’s the Mitch McConnell spin machine ratcheting up in order to hide the fact that his negatives are surging to sky-high numbers. And Politico’s Reid Wilson, right-wing hack, is swallowing the McConnell Kool-Aid. Mitch released an internal poll– without any crosstabs, of course– and Wilson ran it like it’s written in stone fact. Damage control. [Politico]

Politicker’s Trey Pollard offers more details on the McConnell internal polling claim. And at least he bothered to contact the Lunsford campaign for a response before going to print. [Trey Pollard]

The Herald-Leader staff jumped on the polling meme. Still did an amazingly better job than Politico. [PolWatchers]

And here’s the fancy Republican spin from the RPK’s fancy blog once operated by F-Bomb Brett Hall. [KYPolitics.org]

Millions and millions and millions of people joined Bruce Lunsford and the AFL-CIO for a rally yesterday at Kentucky Dam Village Marina. [WKYX Radio]

Will someone please go read this million-page-long telephone interview transcript that Time did with Sarah Palin? Please? And then give us the hilarious highlights. It’s probably terribly vanilla and boring. The only thing we saw was an outright lie about attending a non-denominational church in Alaska. She really is a member of the Assembly of God or whatever. [Time]

The Washingtonian’s Best & Worst of Congress list for 2008 is out. Mitch McConnell comes in at #3 on the ‘Best Friend to Lobbyists’ list, just after Ted Stevens and John McCain. McConnell also gets a mention under the ‘Biggest Drone’ category. [Washingtonian]

Here comes the Mitch McConnell spin machine. In reaction to the bad press Mitch’s team knew he’d get around 9/11, they’ve started pandering and puffing their chests out. Just released news that Mitch secured $73.6 million in funding for Kentucky in a defense bill for 2009. The money isn’t guaranteed, it’s only cleared one leg of the legislative process. So don’t hold your breath just yet. [WKYT]

Yes, ladies, the price of a Ph.D. at the University of Louisville is a mere $375,000. Or at least that was the case when Robert Felner was ruling the roost at the University’s College of Education and Human Development. And the Chronicle of Higher Education has finally caught on. [Chronicle]

Business First of Louisville spent precious space fluffing up the University of Louisville and Jim Ramsey. Never mind the Robert Felner scandal, the diploma mill situation with John Deasy or anything else going on. That’s too scandalous to appear in a boring ass business stenography pad. [Business First]

Breaking Deasy Update: Ramsey Appoints Review Committee

University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey has appointed a committee to review the questionable Ph.D. John Deasy received under disgraced former Dean Robert Felner.

Unfortunately, the statement released by the University contains a glaring lie:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. –University of Louisville President James Ramsey formed a blue-ribbon committee today to investigate allegations of improper behavior in the awarding of a doctoral degree to a student in its College of Education and Human Development.

Ramsey appointed the committee after allegations surfaced that the university had awarded a doctoral degree to John Deasy in 2004 in violation of its own policies. The information was uncovered during an investigation into alleged misappropriation of federal grant monies by the college’s former dean, Robert Felner.

We all know that’s not true– the information was uncovered by reporters at WHAS11 and the Courier-Journal, not by anyone at the University.

That said, here’s the rest of the press release:

“When this investigation began, we were dealing with alleged criminal activity, which we immediately reported to federal authorities,” Ramsey said. “We have taken steps to address those serious issues. Now we are dealing with an issue that strikes at the heart of our institutional integrity. I have asked the committee to review this incident quickly, but thoroughly, and to report to me any improper or questionable behavior in the granting of this degree. If someone received a degree he did not earn, we would have no choice but to recommend rescinding that degree.”

Ramsey has asked William Pierce, a pharmacology professor, vice provost for graduate affairs and interim dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, to chair the committee.

Other members include:

  • Martin Johnstone, retired Kentucky Supreme Court justice
  • Mary Gwen Wheeler, director, Office of Policy and Management, Louisville Metro
  • Blaine Hudson, dean of the UofL College of Arts and Sciences
  • James Atkinson, graduate student in education and counselor in the UofL Career Center
  • Joseph Petrosko, chair and professor, Department of Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education

Ramsey asked the committee to report its findings as soon as possible. Pierce said much of the fact-finding already is under way.

“We take this charge seriously,” Pierce said. “A doctorate should not be granted; it should be earned. Our goal is to ensure the integrity of that process.”

Thoughts?

UPDATE: Woops. Here’s the original release. (PDF Link)

UPDATE @ 6:40: See the email message about the latest developments and investigation that Jim Ramsey sent to folks at UofL this evening after the jump…

Read moreBreaking Deasy Update: Ramsey Appoints Review Committee