‘“The work of the investment office over the years has been a huge compliment to the school’s efforts to run a modest budget surplus and to the generous support from alumni and friends,” former Dean of the Yale School of Management Ted Snyder wrote to the [Yale Daily] News.’ 

The school will be directing one billion dollars in the coming years to faculty spelling lessons.

SHADDAP YOUR MOUTH!

We practice progressive stacking when calling upon people to participate in class discussion. .. [If] you are white, male, or someone privileged by the racial and gender structures of our society… we will often ask you to hold off…

UD has tried to find out more about the Binghamton University professor who put this on her syllabus, but for some reason she has been 404’d by the school, and as for her home page, fuggedaboutit.

There’s this – hasn’t been taken down yet, but now that I’ve linked to it, it might be.

The school has made her take the language off the syllabus, but it’s probably too late for Binghamton to do anything about the (legal?) complaints it’s going to be fielding. As for embarrassment about the bigot on the faculty, well, you hired her.

There are red flags, and then there’s utterly damning testimony.

[One former Duke philosophy student described meetings with faculty about Matthew Harris] “as mostly unproductive.”

Faculty, for example, suggested that they hold more professional development sessions for graduate students. 

“We were a little bit upset about this because this wasn’t a matter of professionalism,” the current student said. “This was a unique graduate student who was troubled and required over and above the typical graduate student’s needs.” 

A madman in the department is behaving in a demented way and threatening the lives of various people.

Okay! Let’s hold another session on how you should dress for the MLA convention.

**************************

And then there’s the curiously confused thesis director/recommendation letter writer. In two news outlets now, he has described Harris as a total weenie, a terribly shy harmless sort; yet he also acknowledges that Harris wrote things like “[this thesis is] dedicated to the immediate death of all those who oppose or slow the rise of the black man” in a draft of the dissertation that ended up online.

“I don’t really know how to describe it other than just incoherent, ranting and raving,” says the thesis director.

No kidding.

When you read this, you – what? – put a red line through it and wrote Maybe needs revision …?

And now all the red flags come out.

UD’s been posting for a few days on the appalling Matthew Harris story, in which a notorious and dangerous madman has been handed on from one excellent university to another, first as a grad student and then as a lecturer.

For years, several people at these schools have known or suspected that Harris is a serious threat to society, but nonetheless he has been able to leap from one academic pinnacle to another, stopped only by behavior so terrifying that he’s now in jail.

How can we account for this series of events?

Let me first quote a bit from the latest story about him.

[C]urrent and former students at all three universities alleged negligence by the schools for letting Harris slide previously, despite his concerning conduct… [H]is behavior was well known within the small [Duke] philosophy program [but two students who were in the department at the time said they] did not feel they would have been supported by faculty if they’d come forward.

Whoa. Why the hell did they feel that way? I mean, if his threatening behavior was well known, why would faculty have failed to support people who formally reported it? What a condemnation of the Duke department.

*****************************

Did the students worry they would be accused of racism if they complained about Harris?

And what of the four professors who approved Harris’s dissertation, and the professors who wrote letters of recommendation glowing enough to get Harris a job at UCLA?

*****************************

A little more speculation here, if I may. I’m going to guess that no one read the thesis with much care, or indeed interacted much with Harris.

And a tad more speculation, please. I’m going to guess that influential people at Cornell and Duke championed Harris in a way that may well have made complaining about him seem not worth the hassle.

There’s much, much more to this story, and it will almost certainly come out. We will see if UD‘s guesses have any merit to them. Meanwhile, expect lawsuits. Expect faculty resignations. Expect professors having to testify at Harris’s trial. This one’s a real mess.

“What was really, really scary to me, personally were the threats to our class, saying that it was our fault that [Matthew Harris] got fired from the university in that retaliation,” UCLA student Lina Campillo told ABC7 on Tuesday. “He even called out some of my former classmates by name in the manifesto.”

So much still to say about the curious case of UCLA philosophy lecturer/psychotic would-be mass killer Matthew Harris. For UD, the crucial question is – who hired him at UCLA? Simply put, how did a guy who apparently was a known problem — maybe even a danger — at his previous school – Duke – end up in front of a classroom at UCLA?

How long did UCLA keep him in the classroom?

******************************

Here’s the bit on his time at Duke.

Harris received his PhD from Duke University in 2019. It has been alleged that while there, he engaged in a some inappropriate actions with or in regard to students, and that some faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Duke were aware of issues with his behavior; it has been alleged that some Duke faculty recommended that he not be left alone with students.

So far the above can’t be confirmed; and since everyone with any connection to Matthew Harris is currently running scared (he might be released on bond or sent to a low-security mental health facility), I wouldn’t expect anyone to say anything for awhile. But let us assume this information about his behavior at Duke is true. Let us assume that his madness definitely began to manifest at Duke, that the peril of the man was something of an established fact at Duke. How can we account for UCLA hiring, and for some time keeping, him?

Here are a few thoughts.

1.) Just as GW’s Jessica Krug had institutionally powerful enablers, so perhaps Harris had influential cheerleaders at Duke and/or UCLA. Sometimes it only takes one pivotal/assertive/aggressive advocate to tamp down misgivings other colleagues might have.

2.) Harris’s aggressivity, sense of grievance, and general strangeness might have been filed under “wounds of race” – just as Jessica Krug’s similar emotional profile — when people were under the impression she was black — was perhaps interpreted/mainstreamed in this way.

3.) Harris had great credentials – Duke, a respected thesis director, fellowships, prizes. I’m assuming he had strong recommendations. Nothing on paper argued against him, and it looks as though no one at Duke – formally or informally – shared anything worrisome. Or did they? Again, a strong enough advocate might find a way to neutralize worrisome information. (Interestingly, Duke was both Krug’s publisher and Harris’s graduate institution.)

4.) Once in the classroom at UCLA, Harris benefited from the praiseworthy tendency of universities to give professors enormous freedom in what and how they teach. But as a novice at the trade, Harris should have encountered more oversight than he apparently received. To make matters worse, the dissolution of disciplinary boundaries in the humanities means the absence of anything like an agreed-upon canon of readings to assign in any particular class. “[A] final exam … included an essay question about the hate-filled manifesto of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer whose 2013 shooting rampage killed four people and wounded three others. Students were asked to consider the ‘oppression, disrespect and loss of dignity’ suffered by the homicidal ex-cop.”

Exactly the sort of assigned reading you’d expect in an undergraduate philosophy course. Before Hegel and Arendt, Christopher Dorner.

‘She contacted philosophy department staff, university police and the FBI before Harris was placed on administrative leave.’

When students are contacting the FBI about one of their instructors, it’s a subtle hint that maybe something’s wrong with the instructor.

*************

This is a drip-drip-drip story. We’re starting with information from his students; eventually we’ll work up to his dissertation committee and the administration at Duke University.

[The instructor was] speaking haltingly, changing his syllabus willy-nilly and spending the first four weeks of his “Philosophy of Race” class without once showing his face over Zoom.

Things got weirder as the term progressed, students said, leading up to a final exam that included an essay question about the hate-filled manifesto of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer whose 2013 shooting rampage killed four people and wounded three others. Students were asked to consider the “oppression, disrespect and loss of dignity” suffered by the homicidal ex-cop.

‘[Matthew] Harris received his PhD from Duke University in 2019. It has been alleged that while there, he engaged in some inappropriate actions with or in regard to students, and that some faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Duke were aware of issues with his behavior; it has been alleged that some Duke faculty recommended that he not be left alone with students.’

So nu? How did Harris get to UCLA? Does his dissertation advisor, Andrew Janiak, have anything to contribute?

Were there other faculty in the Philosophy department who may have known, or suspected, that they were handing along a dangerous person to UCLA?

For him to land at that distinguished school, his letters of recommendation must have been excellent. All written by people with no negative knowledge of him?

Did this bit from his brief autobiography at the end of his dissertation not seem strange to anyone?

[H]e also gave lectures about his innovative philosophical research to crowds at Stanford University, Cornell University and Princeton University.

In the matter of ex-UCLA lecturer Matthew Harris, there are a few things to say.

1.) A dismissed faculty member has had a psychotic break and has issued death threats against faculty, students, the whole school really. How well has the campus responded in terms of security?

2.) When did the school become aware (through student complaints, his Rate My Professor page, his social media, etc.) that Harris is a violent, mentally ill person? Did it act quickly, or did it drag its feet?

3.) How well has the administration kept students and faculty informed about the ongoing threat, and what people should do about it?

4.) The acutely psychotic condition of Harris makes me suspect that his madness was visible long before he began ranting about mass murder. Did anyone warn the philosophy department about him before they hired him? Did the department have reservations about hiring him which they decided to overlook?

****************

Oh. And don’t forget. 5.) “Every country contains mentally ill and potentially violent people. Only America arms them.” UCLA must certainly proceed on the assumption that Harris enjoys a massive violent arsenal to match his massive violent mental illness.

*****************

UPDATE: “[A] former instructor in a philosophy department is alleged to have sent members of the department threatening messages and was revealed to possibly have a history of problematic interactions with students, and possibly was observed in the past as problematic by superiors at institutions which (for reasons unknown) do not appear to have effectively responded to the situation or informed relevant others of it.”

The Pesky Webpage Problem

It’s been a month since the DOJ charged a high-profile University of Chicago professor with insider trading, and his university webpage remains fully, smilingly, intact. It’s the first thing that comes up when you Google his name.

They’ve put the dude on leave, but what to do about the fact that this now high-profile miscreant (he’s probably a miscreant; he seems to have been caught red-handed, and word is he’ll plead guilty) remains powerfully associated with a respectable university?

Rather than take the page down (you could do this; you could explain to the guy that it will come down until the case is settled), UD thinks it’s more straightforward to append a note to it:

Dr. Catenacci is on leave pending results of a conflict of interest investigation.

**************

UPDATE: He’s been oopsed.

‘According to [University of Colorado] officials, [conspiracy theorist John] Eastman’s two spring courses had already been cancelled due to low enrollments (two students were enrolled in one course, and six in the other). He will continue to be paid the balance of his $185,000 salary through the end of his appointment on May 7…’

Nice work if you can get it.

***************

Eastman is, somehow, both a lawyer and a senior fellow at a research institute. He’s also a disgrace to the profession. His memo [arguing that Pence should simply declare Trump re-elected] is at once rife with falsehoods, childlike in its reasoning and deadly dangerous in its proposed application. Eastman needs to face consequences. State licensing authorities should review his fitness to practice law. Congress needs to demand answers, issuing a subpoena to compel Eastman to testify if necessary. And the Justice Department must, at a minimum, open a criminal investigation to determine whether Eastman’s proposed actions constituted conspiracy to violate federal election laws. If nobody takes action, then Eastman will fade into memory as just another unhinged conspiracy theorist who proposed dangerous abuses of power to serve Trump’s whims, and then walked away unscathed.

‘The grand jury concluded that [Moshe] Porat, who was paid nearly $600,000 for the 2017-2018 school year, should forfeit all personal gains from the alleged fraud. Even after he left his role as dean, he has continued to be a tenured professor, earning more than $300,000 a year from Temple although he hasn’t taught classes or published research since 2018, according to the court filing.’

Nice work if you can get it.

‘Mr. Ennels, a professor at the college for 15 years who served on the faculty senate’s Ethics and Institutional Integrity Committee, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to 11 misdemeanor charges, including bribery and misconduct in office, according to prosecutors and online court records.’

Longtime readers know I never bother with these unless there are wonderful little details, like they served on the faculty senate’s Ethics and Institutional Integrity Committee… And like…

Benjamin J. Herbst, a lawyer for Mr. Ennels, said in an interview on Thursday night that Mr. Ennels did what he did “only to keep up with a gambling addiction” and was “in no way motivated” by greed. He did not live a lavish lifestyle or squirrel the money away for later, Mr. Herbst said.

“He’s a good person, he loved his job, he loved his students,” he said of Mr. Ennels. “He’ll move past this.”

The mysterious death of a University of Virginia professor…

… in a steep, dangerous part of Shenandoah National Park, suggests a few possible scenarios. UD will list them, starting with the most likely. Keep in mind that Julia Devlin’s car was found along Skyline Drive, wrecked.

1.) This is a suicide, the endpoint of a psychotic break.

Distraught, she drove erratically into the park, crashed, exited the car, and began walking erratically. She looked for a steep cliff from which she could hurl herself.

2.) Drink and/or drugs were involved. Disoriented, she entered the park, crashed her car, and stumbled about until her fatal fall.

3.) Foul play seems unlikely. A terrible fight with a lover? They drive into the park, screaming at one another. In a rage, she wrecks the car, which enrages her lover, who chases her as she runs into the park, and pushes her down a cliff.

*************

Mr UD offered something more straightforward: She drove into the park intending nothing more than a scenic drive. When she wrecked her car, she suffered, let’s say, a concussion, which disoriented her. She stumbled into danger.

UD adds yet another scenario, highly unlikely. She hit a bear. A now-angry bear. Terrified, she attempted to flee, but the bear pursued her, and she fell trying to get away from it.

Profgeist

Ghost professors haunt community colleges, but they’re probably flitting around at four-year places with online courses too.

When you add covid to the myriad excuses online instructors already have to sorta drop out of the whole show up and teach thing, you get an Army of Ghosts phenom — which is to say, not the routine only-half-there, give-a-shittery some distance profs exhibit, but actual, significant, increasingly noted and discussed, disappearance. Not the lazy deceitful hand most of the work off to subcontracted anonymous drudges thing, but simple total cutting and running.

“They’re not teaching, you don’t see them, they don’t do Zoom, they don’t have office hours,” said Santa Monica College political science student Jonnae Serrano. “I’ve had office hours where it’s completely text — I’m texting my professor, and waiting for her to get back to me.” … [Students] complain of professors who’ve given them a list of YouTube videos, produced by someone else, and questions as the teaching for the entire semester. [One student] said a “ghost professor” in her history class kept his camera off the three times she attended his online office hours.“I just stopped doing it because it was just talking to a screen.” … [Another student offered the revolutionary thought that] “If you’re requiring your students to do work and be present in your class, you should be present as well.” …

“In the defense of some of these so-called ghost professors, many people, you know, don’t have the formal online training,” [one professor] said.

Yes, and the response to not having medical training is to make appointments to treat people, and to go ahead and collect payment, but not to show up. Because, you know, you don’t have the formal training.

We have followed Adrian Vermeule on this blog for some time.

Vermeule (scroll down) is a standard-issue Trumpian who continues gassing on about election fraud. He is a theocrat – I mean, a real one, as in he wants the United States ruled by Jesus, and, if Jesus doesn’t want the job, by His designated ayatollahs. We can anticipate that these would include the much-laureled Josh Hawley, plus, well, Adrian Vermeule.

Vermeule’s one peculiar distinction is that he’s a Harvard law professor; and it turns out that more than a few of his students are now officially really really creeped out to be in the same room with the dude in various required classes. UD is all for these students complaining about him; indeed, intellectual self-respect rather demands that his students make a public statement of some sort about the odd fact of their being taught, at the nation’s greatest university, by an off-the-charts anti-democratic fanatic.

No punishment allowed, of course; Vermeulen finds himself a tenured Harvard professor and fine. But squawking about the obscenity of having to endure the presence of a freak who wants to destroy your country – excellent.

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