Political science professor Delmer Lonowski, SDSU's AAUP representative said the AAUP is waiting for the grievance process to conclude before deciding whether or not to investigate a possible censure.
However, [SDSU labor union COHE president Bill] Adamson said an investigation is very likely.
"If you read between the lines, the AAUP will probably conduct an investigation," he said. "They won't censure just SDSU. They'll censure all the universities in the entire BOR system" [Emma DeJong, "Faculty Reviews Dismissal," SDSU Collegian, 2010.09.15].
According to DeJong, Catangui is asking the Board of Regents to review SDSU's decision to dismiss him. So if the Board of Regents gets it wrong, the AAUP could well drop the hammer on the whole system.
Upholding SDSU's decision looks more and more like the wrong decision. DeJong reports that the university is confirming that Catangui's research was part of the reason for his firing:
SDSU officials have declined to comment about personnel matters, but Rich Helsper, SDSU's attorney, made a general statement that SDSU "follows the COHE agreement to the letter," and "every faculty member is afforded all due process rights, not only under general law, but under the COHE agreement."
The BOR fired Catangui June 21 for reasons that have not been completely made public. Helsper confirmed that part of the reason for Catangui's termination is that he followed his own research, instead of a mandated requirement, in deciding when to spray for the removal of soybean aphids.
"Really it's becoming a public issue at this point because there is a serious threat that the university is going to get a censure from AAUP," said Bill Adamson, president of the SDSU chapter of COHE [DeJong, 2010.09.15].
Yikes. A professor gets fired for following the results of his research. That's a textbook definition of violation of academic freedom.
DeJong reports that Catangui had an opportunity to address the SDSU Acaademic Senate at its regular meeting yesterday. No word yet on the outcome of that meeting. The professors' governing body is waiting until its September 28 to make a decision as to what if anything it will do concerning Catangui's dismissal. The profs are waiting to act because they think there's more to this case than the university is letting on... and they're saying it publicly:
Senators Sandy Smart, animal and range sciences associate professor, and Patty Hacker, a health, physical education and recreations professor, said they think there is information that they likely won't be able to know.
"There's something darker under the surface," Smart said. "Somebody's out to get somebody." Hacker agreed.
"There is a distinct possibility that there is something under the surface we will never be privy to because it's a personnel issue," Patty Hacker said. "…I would hesitate to push something forward for immediacy knowing what the ramifications are going to be down the road" [DeJong, 2010.09.15].
Somebody's out to get somebody—that's a pretty serious statement to put on the record. But one can perhaps understand strong feelings from professors who look at a colleague's dismissal and see no reason given other than a pretty clear statement that speaking and acting on the basis of freely and fairly conducted research can get you fired.
What is the deep dark something under the surface? Is it manipulation or suppression of research unfavorable to Monsanto, whose executive board member David Chicoine also serves as SDSU president? Is it something else? Is there some other ethical, financial, oor political issue afoot?
Lest our state's entire university system suffer AAUP sanction, SDSU and the Board of Regents had better lay out the full story and either make clear they have done the right thing or quickly rectify any errors they have made.