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Faculty write resolution to urge fired prof's reinstatement

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 7, 1999
Talk about this story

UA President Peter Likins again declined to comment yesterday on his decision to fire Alzheimer's researcher Marguerite Kay, just before the faculty chairman announced a resolution written by faculty senators that urges the professor's reinstatement.

During yesterday's Faculty Senate meeting - held in the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography - Likins said that because a preliminary ruling by the Pima County Superior Court has not been made official, he has no power to reinstate Kay and added that he will continue to refrain from commenting on the issue.

The ruling, issued by Judge Stephen Villarreal, said Kay's case should be returned to the university and that the researcher's rights were violated by a UA Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which recommended her termination.

"I fully acknowledge the desire of the Senate and faculty to bring closure to the matter that is consistent with faculty rights and privileges," Likins told senators at yesterday's meeting. "Nevertheless, discussions and decisions about Dr. Kay's status must take place with her and her representatives."

The resolution -co-authored by surgery professor Marlys Witte, microbiology and immunology professor John Marchalonis, pharmacy professor Paul Nolan, nursing professor Claire Parsons and surgery professor Martin Weinand -will go before senators next week for discussion and a possible vote.

"We're requesting immediate reinstatement," Witte said. "It's something of great concern to us."

Kay was fired in July 1998 after the UA Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure accused her of falsifying research. Likins agreed with CAFT's recommendation to terminate her employment.

The Senate will discuss and possibly take action on the resolution during a special session on Monday, Faculty Chairman Jerrold Hogle said.

"It's going to have a lot of faculty interest," Hogle said. "The petitioners want it dealt with now."

Although he has declined talking about Kay's case, Likins said he was not upset at senators who are speaking out.

"They're in a very different position," he said. "The Senate ... is free to speak without constraint."

Hogle said he isn't sure how effective the resolution would be if passed, but he hopes Likins will take it seriously.

"I'm hoping he'll understand how the Senate feels," Hogle said. "I respect the president's right to make decisions on this matter ... there are things the president knows that we don't."

Witte said she couldn't comment on the resolution's support among senators, but said the faculty isn't necessarily giving personal support to Kay.

"It's not a personal issue," Witte said. "It's definitely a procedural issue. Every faculty member has to say, 'That could be me.'"

But Likins made it clear to senators that he is untouched by discussion.

"It is imperative that due process - and not political debate - govern," he said.

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