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Faculty groups allege misconduct by ‘U’ officials in case of former researcher

Jake Fromm/Daily
University President Mary Sue Coleman at the May Regents' Meeting at the UM-Dearborn campus on Thursday, May 20. Buy this photo

By Kyle Swanson, Daily News Editor
Published May 23, 2010

Two investigatory committees have formally endorsed reports that call out University administrators for violating the freedoms and rights of one former University professor, sources tell The Michigan Daily.

The reports detail a series of incidents surrounding Andrei Borisov, who used to work at the University as a research faculty member. One report was adopted by the Faculty Hearing Committee of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and another was adopted by both the Executive Committee and Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors,

The local Executive Committee of the University’s chapter of AAUP endorsed its report earlier this month following the chapter’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure's — known as Committee A — formal adoption of a 21-page report late last month.

SACUA’s Faculty Hearing Committee formalized its own 55-page report last month, calling out University officials for violating Borisov’s rights and academic freedom. The report also examines steps taken by University officials in handling Borisov’s departure from the University.

According to the Faculty Hearing Committee’s report, the committee found evidence that University officials violated Borisov’s rights to personal and academic freedom and intellectual property. Additionally, the report says the officials broke established University policies surrounding academic integrity, wrongfully damaged Borisov’s reputation and retaliated against him.

The reports’ findings stem from an incident in 2008 in which Borisov was allegedly forced to resign in a meeting with his department chair and two University Police officers.

According to a pending lawsuit Borisov filed against the University, officials at the University retaliated against his allegations of scientific misconduct within his department by claiming he was not bringing in enough outside funding to support his research. Prior to the allegations, Borisov had reported that his research collaborator had begun claiming Borisov’s work as his own after receiving tenure and had illegally reduced Borisov’s effort on their grant. This reduction, which Borisov alleges in the suit was done illegally, made it appear as though Borisov was bringing in less money for his research.

The chair of the Faculty Hearing Committee confirmed that the committee accepted the report’s findings last month despite SACUA’s vote not to accept the report.

And while SACUA, the leading faculty governing body at the University, chose not to adopt the report, it did draft a memo that included aspects of the report to send to University Provost Teresa Sullivan.

SACUA President Ed Rothman told The Michigan Daily he would not comment on SACUA’s letter to Sullivan because he felt it was a confidential communication.

“A letter was created and sent off to the Provost’s Office in lieu of the report,” Rothman said. “It takes the elements of the things that were agreed upon and sent those off, and left out those elements that we didn’t agree upon. Beyond that, I can’t tell you because it was a letter that was from SACUA to the provost and wasn’t addressed to the general public.”

Rothman also said he didn’t believe that formally accepting the report presented by the Faculty Hearing Committee — of which he was a member — would be in the best interest of current faculty members.

“We all have the same purpose and that is to make this a better institution and to protect the faculty who are here and that purpose was not well served by taking that report and sending it to a bunch of people — that’s why it wasn’t accepted,” Rothman said.