Faculty group urges fired prof's rehiring
The Faculty Senate Committee of 11 encouraged UA President Peter Likins to reinstate a fired tenured researcher, but the president said yesterday he will not take any action until court and research proceedings are finalized.
The committee - an organization that deals with faculty rights - unanimously approved a resolution on Aug. 27 calling for Likins to immediately reinstate former microbiology and immunology professor Marguerite Kay.
The resolution was based on the April 30 summary judgement by Arizona Superior Court Judge Stephen Villarreal, which stated the University of Arizona took "arbitrary and capricious" actions in the 1998 firing of Kay.
But Villarreal's judgement did not demand that Kay return to her position and Likins said until the courts reach a final order, he will not take any action.
"I respect the Committee of 11," Likins said, adding that the resolution is "relevant input to a complex process," and "just one piece of information."
Faculty Chairman Jerry Hogle, who is a member of the Committee of 11, said the resolution is purely procedural and doesn't imply any disapproval of the president's actions.
"I doubt that it's going to lead to anything until there is a court order," Hogle said.
Villarreal's final order would demand that the university complete the required termination procedure, including a hearing by the UA Conciliation Committee. But the university must decide if Kay will return to her job pending that procedure.
Hogle said the Committee of 11 agreed that until such proceedings are completed, Kay should regain her previous position.
Kay was fired in July 1998, after the Committee of Academic Freedom and Tenure found that she had falsified data in her research of Alzheimer's disease.
While the court has not ruled on the scientific misconduct allegations, Kay maintained her innocence and said she was forced out of the university.
"I certainly think it's a step in the right direction," Kay said yesterday, referring to the faculty group's resolution. "This is absolutely wonderful."
Kay added that she thinks the faculty support her and realize that the same thing could happen to any one of them.
"This was a witch hunt," she said. "I think that (the faculty) finally figured it out."
Don Awerkamp, Kay's attorney, agreed that the resolution is a positive thing, but also awaits the court's decision.
He said the UA was recently denied a motion that would allow the court to define the proceedings of the Conciliation Committee.
Awerkamp's next step will be a motion for the judge to sign the court order, demanding the university continue the termination procedures. He said he plans to make the motion in the next few days.
"It would seem logical that she be put back ...pending that process in the Conciliation Committee," he said.
In addition to court proceedings, Kay and university officials also await a ruling from the Office of Research Integrity, which will determine if any scientific misconduct took place.
In July, the American Association of University Professors, an academic freedom organization, sent a letter to Likins urging Kay's reinstatement as well.
The AAUP letter also did not state that Kay was innocent of such research integrity violations.
Likins responded to the letter by saying the AAUP has no authority to make such evaluations of university actions.