Academic integrity is a hallmark of the credibility of any university. The standards for academic achievement and scholarly research must be universally expected of all faculty and top tier administrators. An institute of higher learning cannot expect to impart solid academic standards among students unless those who educate them lead by example.
This is one of the reasons why colleges and universities have zero tolerance for plagiarism, for example. There must be integrity in the papers and studies that college personnel present to the public. Simply, one cannot lead by edict; one can only lead by example.
This concept is one of the reasons why the recent and current events at Kean University are so disheartening for New Jersey and all of academia. The University is not leading by example and, as a consequence, all New Jersey higher education has taken a backward step that places our academic and administrative integrity in jeopardy. We cannot expect to be respected by other states unless we can clean our own house.
Furthermore, the value of an education from a New Jersey institution has been devalued.
Kean University President Dawood Farahi was accused of, and admitted, misrepresenting himself and his academic record when he applied for the position in 2003.
He claimed that he had authored publications that never existed. The academic research journals that he claimed published his work have reported that the “so-called” research articles never existed. Farahi claims that the confusion was the result of clerical errors by his office staff. Based on this excuse, one would have to assume that typographical errors led to phantom research studies suddenly being created implanted in his curriculum vitae. In addition, one would also have to hold him blameless for not proof reading his own portfolio.
Actually, the Kean University Board of Trustees did not hold him blameless. They cited the lack of accuracy in Farahi’s dossier. However, the Trustees also voted, by a slim margin, to allow Farahi to continue as the President of the University. Perhaps most troubling, the same lack of accuracy and integrity would not be tolerated by a student or faculty member. In all probability, the student would be expelled from the University and the faculty member’s employment would be terminated. To do otherwise would place the University’s academic reputation permanently at stake.
This past week, the students at Kean University protested the action of the Trustees with a controlled demonstration on campus. The faculty has gone on record months ago, demanding Farahis’s resignation. Now, we have a University President who has neither the support of the faculty nor the students. It is obviously time for the Governor to step in and remove Farahi from this highly paid public job. The taxpayers are spending nearly three hundred thousand dollars per year for a fraudulent administrator who has betrayed all of New Jersey.
During this time of fiscal restraint, we cannot afford to waste taxpayer dollars on such a fiasco.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.