Robert Felner – Crime Victim at UofL?

Dr. Robert Felner, the former Dean of UofL’s College of Education and Human Development, has been the focus of intense scrutiny the past couple weeks after this website broke the the story of a major federal investigation at the University of Louisville.

Over the past 12 days we have uncovered hundreds upon hundreds of documents and are slowly pouring over them. From records indicating Felner received a vote of no-confidence from faculty at UofL to information suggesting Felner was forced out of a job in the 1980s, we’ve amassed a treasure trove.

So you can imagine our surprise when we uncovered police reports that reveal that Felner has done some things so wrong (or right) that people were driven to vandalize his convertible BMW. On more than one occasion.

On January 18, 2008 (reported on 01/23/2008), “unknown person(s) damaged the top of his 2006 BMW, sometime during the morning hours.”

Read the rest and see several more reports after the jump…

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Felner Investigation Forces UWP to Wake Up

The University of Wisconson-Parkside has identified areas where they believe problems may have occurred during their alleged “transparent” and “open” search for Robert Felner.

1. References – In the UW-Parkside search, much information obtained about Felner through professional references painted a very positive picture of his performance at both the University of Louisville and the University of Rhode Island. However, the number and type of references interviewed may have been insufficient, affecting the quality and breadth of information obtained. Information about a 2006 vote of no confidence by Louisville faculty was not shared with everyone involved in the Parkside hiring process.

2. Roles and Relationships – Based on current information about the UW-Parkside search process, UW System will work to clarify roles, responsibilities, relationships and expectations for everyone involved in the search process. This will include clear guidelines and checklists for individuals, committee chairs, external search consultants, UW System Administration staff and others. These written guidelines will provide clear procedures and mechanisms for gathering, verifying, analyzing and sharing all available information about candidates in a manner that ensures an unfettered, unbiased examination of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

3. Timelines – The timeline for the UW-Parkside search allowed roughly three months to recruit a pool of qualified candidates, evaluate applications, conduct preliminary interviews, check references, name finalists, schedule public presentations, interview finalists and appoint the new Chancellor. Compared to most Chancellor searches, this was a more compressed timeline – about two weeks shorter than the successful search for a new UW-Madison Chancellor. UW System officials will examine the impact of this shorter timeline on the search committee’s ability to fulfill its charge.

Let’s just go ahead and say it: That “transparent” and “open” process is probably the most broken and inadequate search process on the planet.

Meanwhile, dead silence from the University of Louisville. The public university (it’s not a private institution, contrary to popular belief among those who have a fear of rocking the boat) is now saying through spokespeople that it is declining comment because law enforcement asked UofL officials not to make statements that might affect the ongoing federal investigation. Of course, UofL doesn’t address that fact that comments can be made that don’t impact said federal investigation. But that would require too much work for somebody and more transparency than most can handle.

Read all about that in Jennifer Oladipo’s story in LEO this week. And more about the review of the search process in the Kenosha News and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Felner Retaliated Against Critics While at UIUC

Literally, there’s something new in this Felner story every day. Now, thanks to the magic of court records on the internets, we discover that Robert Felner potentially retaliated against colleagues who wrote stories critical of one of Felner’s projects.

See the court records for yourself:

In September 1991, Mitchell published several articles in Ground Level Critique critical of another community-based research project at the University, the “New North Project,” headed by psychology Professor Robert Felner. Five months later, Rappaport decided to terminate the funding for Oasis Graphics Arts. Rappaport cited severe budgetary constraints, the deteriorating physical facility, and the program’s failure as a training ground for graduate students as reasons for terminating the program’s funding. Donchin approved the termination. Mitchell was informed that the funding for Oasis Graphics Arts was being terminated on March 2, 1992. The funding was actually terminated, and Mitchell’s position eliminated, in mid-1993.

On February 22, 1994, Mitchell filed a four-count complaint against several University of Illinois administrators and professors, not including Donchin and Rappaport. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Mitchell alleged that the defendants violated his First Amendment rights by terminating the funding for Oasis Graphics Arts in retaliation for publishing articles in the Ground Level Critique critical of the New North Project and Felner. Mitchell supported his complaint with statements allegedly made to him by Rappaport that indicated that the named defendants were behind the decision to terminate the funding for Oasis Graphics Arts. Specifically, Mitchell alleged that Rappaport stated that he had strongly opposed terminating the funding for Oasis Graphics Arts, but that he had been overruled by the defendants. Mitchell further alleged that Rappaport told him that “it was that f….. Felner that’s behind this. I know it is Bob Felner that caused this to happen.”


Rappaport told Mitchell that other people had made the decision to terminate the funding for Oasis Graphics Arts and that he thought that Felner was the motivating force behind the decision.

See that, mainstream media? That’s the kind of material you dig up when you try. Material that, when compiled with hundreds of other pieces of information, paint a complete picture.

Felner’s Troubles Began in the 1980s

During what has now turned into literally hundreds of hours of research and investigation, Page One has uncovered information that suggests former UofL Dean Robert Felner’s troubles go back as far as the 1980s during his days at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Multiple sources at UIUC who worked with Felner during his time at the school have revealed some interesting information. It should be noted, however, that no one we spoke with held any personal grudges against Felner, never offered personal opinions and made it very clear that they only want to deal with facts. So that’s what we’re going to do.

Felner was a member of the Clinical/Community PhD program in the Department of Psychology at UIUC from roughly 1986 to 1990 and was the program’s director (Director of Clinical Training) from 1987 to 1989. Sometime during the late fall of 1989 that program’s faculty (who selects the DCT) asked Felner to step down. According to our sources and our own research, no other DCT has ever been asked to step down.

Read the rest including details about why Felner was forced to step down after the jump…

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Watch Comment on Kentucky Tonight!

Don’t forget. Set your TiVo/DVR if you won’t be home. Or download the podcast from KET’s website or iTunes.

Tonight’s Comment on Kentucky guests are:

  • Ronnie Ellis, CNHI
  • Nancy Rodriguez, Courier-Journal
  • Greg Stotelmyer, WTVQ-TV

Nancy will no doubt be discussing the UofL-Felner situation and we hope Page One gets credit for breaking the story. Hear that, Ferrell, Ronnie, Greg, Nancy? We promote your work all the time. Throw us a bone!

Felner Investigation Rocks Kenosha, WI

We broke the story on Monday and since then it’s gone worldwide. You’ve read all about it and by now are probably tired of hearing about Robert Felner. The situation surrounding the criminal fraud investigation against him at the University of Louisville has literally rocked the world of higher education. No where is that more true than in Kenosha, Wisconsin where journalist Gary Kunich of the Kenosha News who has done more work on the story than anyone in Louisville could imagine.

As it turns out, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the school Felner was leaving UofL to preside over, knew all about Felner’s controversial past and were a-okay with it. Which has rightfully upset quite a few people.  But that’s not all…

Take a look at some highlights of Gary’s latest story:

University of Wisconsin-Parkside officials knew as early as last Friday that there was a federal investigation into Robert Felner when agents showed up at the chancellor’s office to take away boxes of paperwork he already sent here.
A joint investigation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Secret Service and the Postal Service is investigating a fraud case against Felner that involves at least $500,000 in money, potentially from $17 million in different grants. The Kenosha News learned the investigation is also looking into the purchase of illegal items.
“Dr. Felner had shipped up here a considerable number of papers and agents took six boxes of papers with them,” he said. “They returned Wednesday afternoon and returned some of those but took one more back with them. Our staff was not involved in looking through those boxes, so we don’t know what they took and what they left.”
Not everyone was as impressed with Felner’s credentials.

A Parkside university official said the search committee should have been concerned that he moved around too quickly from many colleges with little upward mobility.

NOTE: If you’re visiting the site for the first time or need a quick guide to the Felner/UofL story, hit the jump link for a round-up of everything so far.

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