Robert Taub: Another feather in Columbia University’s cap.

I’m thinkin it’s onaccounta it’s in New York City – smack where the money is – but Columbia University sure does have one rootin-tootin, crooked-up-the-wazoo, faculty.

This 2011 post tries to gather up some of that school’s most notorious naughty boys, but CU has outdone itself since then, having most recently splashed itself all over the tabloids with the story of eminent (awed pause here), bow-tied (classy! pause here), mesothelioma researcher (grateful sanctimonious I-don’t-wanna-know-about-the-law-firms pause here) Robert Taub.

Preet Bharara just finished transacting business with Columbia’s Gregory Rorke, and now he’s had to swivel around to the school’s Milstein Family Professor (also about the Milsteins you don’t wanna know). Bharara must have a crimp in his neck.

Columbia even boasts Mehmet Oz. But don’t get me started.

Should you be in a mood, this morning, to feel really icky all over about American politicians…

… just go to this page, and remind yourself that Sheldon Silver won the 2012 William M. Bulger (once president of the University of Massachusetts!) Excellence in State Leadership Award.

Yech.

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Oh goody. There’s a university professor involved. So far unnamed. UD‘s thinking identifying the person ain’t gonna be too hard.

[It is alleged that] Silver directed state research money to a university doctor in Manhattan, and that the doctor referred lucrative asbestos cases to Silver’s firm of Weitz & Luxenberg. The doctor is described as a “well-known expert” who “conducts mesothelioma research” and who had created a center at his university by or before 2002 related to that subject. The doctor, not named in the complaint, “has entered into an agreement with the USAO SDNY [U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York] under which he will not be prosecuted for the conduct described herein, and that obligates him to provide truthful information to and cooperate with the government.”

As for Preet Bharara, without whom this corruption-besotted blog could not function:

[N]othing about Bharara’s pedigree suggested he planned to burn down the New York State Democratic Party [UD is a deep-blue Democrat. She owns a house in New York State. But she’s got no loyalty to that state’s notoriously corrupt political establishment.]… Bharara, with two more years in office, is that particularly dangerous and rare political figure: a federal prosecutor who doesn’t give a fuck.

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Oh. Okay. Well that wasn’t any challenge at all. Taub’s name came up immediately in a Google search; but here it is all over the papers.

The state money was provided to Dr. Robert Taub [another Yeshiva University grad] for research by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation — with some of the additional funds going for unspecified “additional benefits” to the doctor’s family, the court papers charges.

Taub, who is affiliated with Columbia University, is cooperating with the FBI, court papers revealed. Silver sponsored a May 2011 “official resolution” by the assembly honoring Taub.

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He’s a recipient of the “Collaborator Award,” which has a special ring to it now.

Professor v. Professor

A Utah professor named Cassell
Finds Dershowitz rather a hassle.
‘So you say you’re defamed?
Two can play at that game.
Get set for one hell of a rassle.’

Death in a Tenured Position

Assisted suicide expert and criminology instructor Russel Ogden hasn’t been seen at scandal-plagued Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) since 2008…

Mr. Ogden is … living in the Vancouver area. What’s more, he’s still drawing his KPU salary. The paycheques have never stopped coming, even though the criminologist hasn’t taught a single course at the university in six years.

According to public records, he received $87,910 from KPU in the last fiscal year. For what services, the school administration refuses to say.

If you let them steal from the state long enough…

… they’ll end up ordering groceries.

The much-lauded founder and head of Henderson State University’s ESL program has been helping herself to state grant money for so long that she’s gotten sloppy. Along with buying stuff that one might argue had some connection to language instruction (a vast array of cameras…?), she began using the money for the odd olive oil or steam cleaner shortage in her household. Here’s a list, courtesy of state auditors, of some of what she bought. Let’s try to make sense of it.

Camcorder
Equalizers
Microphones and stands
Camera Lenses
Digital Mixers
Three piece luggage set

Nikon Camera
Vizeo Video monitor
Hitachi projector
Beats by Dre headphones
Two containers of olive oil
Shark portable steamer

The audit pointed out that these items were stored at the Center Director’s house. The audit also points out the Director’s husband happens to run a multimedia company.

Okay… I’m seeing the olive oil used to, you know, oil the camera equipment… And who hasn’t needed to steam clean her luggage set? … But then there’s the question of the luggage set itself…

To lug all the equipment from the language lab to the director’s house?

But wait. There’s more. Found in the language lab itself were:

635 boxes of paper/binder clips
470 batteries
308 shirts
105 umbrellas
48 pedometers
14 electric pencil sharpeners

Okay, not a problem. Batteries were obviously for the pedometers, and the pedometers… Well, this was probably a result of a linguistic misunderstanding on the part of the director herself. Ped-agogy… ped-ometer… It is possible she was under the apprehension that this machine measured teaching output…

Shirts and umbrellas no problem: For a rainy day (UD is providing these line item justifications free of charge to the director’s legal team, by the way), of which there are tons in Arkansas.

Expenditures?


$990 in stamps, although Center mail is processed through the HSU campus post office
$3,071 for a new oven and dishwasher
$39,475 for ink and toner
$30,100 for snacks
$2,692 for batteries
$42,278 for other office supplies

Okay start with the easy stuff. What modern housewife doesn’t need an oven and dishwasher at her place of work? It’s not like cleaning clothes and cooking stops at the ESL door! Are you going to pillory this woman for being as keen on domesticity as she is on having a career?

So let’s finish it out: Stamp collection; universal human need for sustenance; more batteries for the pedometer; you can never have enough ink and toner; and you’ll need to itemize those “other office supplies” before I can respond to them.

Ben Edelman:

Digging a deeper gravy for himself.

I would be okay with everyone bashing Ben Edelman…

if I weren’t also dreading the inevitable cutesie denouement of this brand of story: The icky Harvard professor will suddenly radically un-ick himself and become best friends forever with the Chinese restaurant guy, and we will have to endure the two of them dragging their forgiveness and reconciliation act all over the media.

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Okay, two limericks so far. One from a reader:

What a marvelous prof is Ben Edelman
His check was four more and it’s fatal, man
He’ll spew legalese
O’er this bill for Chinese
Ben’s too hungry to pay like a gentleman

And one from yours truly.

Few acts are more certainly fatal than
Arousing the wrath of Ben Edelman.
Everything jerks him
But nobody irks him
As much as a chef with a ladle can.

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See? See? This is what I mean!

In an apology posted Wednesday afternoon on his Web site, Edelman wrote: “Having reflected on my interaction with Ran, including what I said and how I said it, it’s clear that I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future.”

Edelman, who is an attorney in addition to a professor, said that he’s reached out to Duan and plans to personally apologize to him.

Grr. Brace yourself not only for their joint Oprah appearance, but for their decision to open a restaurant together with some goddamn cutesie name like …

EdelDuan!

Leana Wen, a colleague of UD’s, was featured on this blog not long ago…

… for her relentless efforts to combat conflict of interest in the practice of medicine.

Wen has just been named health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

Guilty-as-Hell Professor Robert Ferrante Had a Real Uphill Battle …

… as he attempted to show a jury that he didn’t kill his wife, also a University of Pittsburgh professor. He had to overcome the fact that he used his university credit card to order cyanide shortly before she died of cyanide poisoning, and that he “did online searches on cyanide poisoning and how it might be removed by the medical treatments Klein received [as doctors were attempting to save her life] or detected by a coroner after her death.”

Jurors, who briskly found him guilty of first degree murder (mandatory life sentence), “also said Ferrante’s decision to testify may have been a mistake.”

Yes well, you could argue no one would be better on the stand than a murderer who really really didn’t want to go to jail for the rest of his life… Or you could argue it the other way… That you really shouldn’t put the person who murdered the victim on the stand because he’s liable to betray a smidgeon of involvement in the event… Or if not that, he’s liable to betray the not very nice personality that a person capable of standing by while his wife is “groaning, moaning and gasping for air” (due to the cyanide he just put in her drink) is likely to have.

“It is the fifth lawsuit filed over the incident.”

After the student’s initial lawsuit against the university, Ludlow also sued Northwestern for what he alleged was its “flawed” handling of the investigation. He also sued several media outlets over the reporting of the student’s initial suit. The student later filed suit against Ludlow alleging violation of the state’s Illinois Gender Violence Act.

Really beginning to pile up.

Background here.

“And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny camera in my hand…”

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only I and I can see you
When I say softly slowly

Bring her closer tiny camera
Count the ladies in the mikvah
Name their names in sheets of linen
I had a busy day today

The Warwick English Blues

Almost Hear You Sigh

I can almost hear you sigh
I can feel your nego vibes
Yeah Professor Pain-in-Ass
Gotta speak sarcastic sass

I wanna live without you
Want my old life to go on
I’m feeling sorry for myself
Can’t wait til you are gone

You acted all ironic
Your body was sardonic
You had a cold look in your eyes

I can almost hear you sigh
I can hear your ironeye*
I wanna live without you
Wanna make you go away
Gonna keep you from the students
With your naughty naughty ways

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* irony (obs.)

Keene State Professors: More in Sorrow than in Anger

Yes, of course you ask the question as you watch Keene State University students yet again burn down their town and call out all the riot police in a hundred mile radius: Where are the professors? Don’t professors teach there? Haven’t they noticed the decades of rioting that have made the name Keene State detested all over New Hampshire? (“Freshman Heather M. Fougere said she walked into Cumberland Farms on Main Street Sunday wearing a Keene State College sweatshirt. While there, an elderly couple glared at her, then looked away, she said. She kept her head down, she said.” Incoming! Freshman orientation at Keene State will soon include recommended evasive maneuvers when the local terrified populace bites back. Keep your head down! Lose the sweatshirt!)

So where are they, the people charged with educating Keene State’s students, the people who set academic policy, etc., etc.?

Well. You know. Keeping their heads down. Teaching in a charming New England town is a great gig, and you wouldn’t want to mess that up (the way Craig Brandon did) by complaining about anything, or putting any pressure on the kiddies. Use as your model the faculty at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – if you see something academically or behaviorally, uh, non-standard, keep your trap shut. For twenty years.

One reporter did manage to find a couple of professors willing to talk. Let’s see what they said.

First, the whole thing is the media’s fault.

[A Keene State professor] attributed student behavior to cultural signals and the media, which faculty and administrators have little to no control over.

The same guy makes another salient point. All American universities burn down their host cities and towns.

“I don’t think there’s anything specific about Keene that makes it especially vulnerable to these kinds of events. These kinds of events — campus riots, student riots, alcohol-driven student riots — have become increasingly common across campuses.”

Nothing to see here! And anyway – when a certain behavior is common – let’s say for instance rioting – the only response is no response. I mean, it’s so common…

But the main faculty response, says the president of the faculty union, is the sniffles.

“I think generally faculty are saddened by the whole thing,” [Peter] Stevenson said.

“[Rabbi Barry] Freundel was also a professor at Towson and he often led students on field trips to the synagogue. Students say he often offered them the opportunity to take the sacred bath.”

The ribald rabbi with the radio also taught at UD‘s school, George Washington University. UD wonders if he invited any of our students to take a dip. Or, as he reportedly put it, “a LONG dip.”

Yet another sad obvious murder case…

… involving a professor killing his wife gets going this week. As in other such cases – Professor Zinkhan, Professor Robb - you’ve got a husband pissed with his wife because he thinks she’s unfaithful, or because she wants a divorce, or because he wants child custody and doesn’t want to pay alimony and just because, you know, he wants her out of the picture altogether as in dead.

There was never any mystery as to who fatally shot/beat the unfortunate women married to Zinkhan and Robb, and this latest case is even more obvious than those cases.

University of Pittsburgh professor Robert Ferrante ordered cyanide a couple of days before his wife died of cyanide poisoning. Then, “someone used Ferrante’s computer days after [Autumn Marie] Klein died to learn whether treatments she received after falling ill would have removed poison from her system.” No shit. Wonder who.

Ferrante’s a real sweetie.

[Klein] wanted a second child and exchanged text messages [with her husband] about how the energy supplement creatine could help them conceive hours before police say Ferrante laced it with cyanide, according to a police complaint.

“Will it stimulate egg production too?” Klein said in one text.

Court documents say Ferrante responded with a smiling emoticon.

Here are the major players in the trial, including a lead prosecutor who last Friday got beaten up in a domestic violence incident. You can’t make this shit up.

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