Lies in California

Ashley Thorne

On Friday, NAS wrote about a podcast of a public presentation given by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. In his speech, the chancellor repeatedly referred to proportional decreases in Caucasian males as “a triumph” and as “significant progress.” He called the large percentage of white male executives “one of our great challenges, which we’re working on very hard.”

Apparently, that hard work is paying off...literally. At Minding the Campus, John Ellis has an incisive article about deceptions propagated by Chancellor Birgeneau in the case of Linda Williams. With the institution in a budget crisis, university employees who retired voluntarily were offered a severance pay incentive. Linda Williams transferred from her position as Associate President at the University of California System headquarters to a position as Associate Chancellor at UC Berkeley. As John Ellis puts it, “She sought severance pay though she had never been severed.”

After she applied for the pay, Chancellor Birgeneau backed her up, and a myriad of lies were concocted to falsely represent that Williams had applied for severance before she was placed in her new position. Professor Ellis uncovers the dishonesty and how Birgeneau framed investigation into the matter as racial harassment “creating a chilling climate for all African Americans on campus.”

Professor Ellis concludes by returning to the academy’s mission: the pursuit of Veritas:

Whether in the classroom or in research, knowledge is only knowledge if it’s based in truth. One lesson of this story is that the concern with diversity must never trump the academy’s core value, Veritas. A university that stops caring about truth will soon be of no use to anyone, minorities included. When a great university is led by someone who misleads seemingly without compunction, contrition, or consequences, it is sick at its core.

To read the whole article at Minding the Campus, click here.

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