By Dora Totoian • Of The News-Register • 

Linfield fires professor who alleged antisemitism and mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations

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Comments

Hibb

Another outrageous display of heavy-handed actions that have ignored the truth and have opted to try and rid themselves of a problem while actually ignoring the real problem of Davis/Baca. I am personally disgusted with Linfield and will no longer support it, encouraging others to do the same. The antisemitism of Davis is a slap in all our faces!

Hibb

"...intentionally violated instructions to preserve the attorney-client privilege with respect to information that was entrusted to him in a position of trust and confidence..."

Poppycock! Since when is professor (unless he's a law professor and you're his client) bound to such privilege? This stinks!

Oregonian

The administration just shot itself in the foot. This will hurt everything - future hiring, enrollment, fundraising, and morale across the school.

I remember when the only bad PR Linfield received in the NR was the occasional student getting a DUI.

E.J. Farrar

So, metaphorically, if someone tells you there is a fire in your woodshed, do you put out the fire or shoot the messenger?

rbrown

Hmm, Davis is folllowing in Hellie’s footsteps... Apparently mass email communications is no longer allowed within the college and students are writing their feeling in chalk on the sidewalks and it is being washed away shortly afterwards...

LML

He was terminated for breaking policy and in my opinion that includes just being an all-round nasty person. He says he's a Practicing Jew, but I see no evidence of forgiveness or the beliefs of Judaism. There was an huge opportunity for learning here. Instead he waits three years and then throws a fit because President Davis wont conform to the Liberal Faculty's "agenda". They wanted an angry African American with his fist raised high. They got an amazing free thinker who puts students first and has big dreams for Linfield. Bad mouthing the University and President Davis who was cleared of any wrong doing is not professional. Everyone wants a scandal to be mad about so the can be woke & cry injustice.....Anytime there's a rush to judgement, misleading headlines and news articles that fail to mention the proven innocence of citizen often points toward bias. This is very disappointing. Especially because I personally know President Davis and he is transparent, fair and wants nothing but the best for Linfield. I'm embarrassed that Oregon is treating him so poorly. It seems as though Oregonians are the ones who are racist.

Lulu

Thus Linfield has crossed the Rubicon.

Treehouse

The single most concerning element in the University's conduct here, is the abrupt, unprecedented, and entirely opaque decision to terminate a tenured faculty member without any due process.

Assuming even that ALL of the allegations leveled against Prof Pollack-Pelzner by the administration are entirely true, and that NONE of the allegations against the administration shared by Pollack-Pelzner are true, then any trustworthy and accountable institution would WELCOME a transparent due process to establish that.

The administration's opaque decision making process to abruptly terminate without appeal or hearing, accompanied by their elimination of open, campus-wide communications among faculty, students, and staff certainly sends a very clear message. But it also implies a coverup. Why? Of what? Trustworthy institutions don't have to resort to these kinds of measures to protect themselves.

Treehouse

LML, you write:

"I personally know President Davis and he is transparent, fair and wants nothing but the best for Linfield."

Please square that claim with the administration's decision to withhold any hearing over Pollack-Pelzner's termination. If any of the things you claim about the institution, the process, or the parties involved as really true, then why would the University, and Davis himself, be so opposed to following the procedures described in the faculty rules for termination?

If the University were really entirely in the right here, if in fact Pollack-Pelzner is guilty of having “propagated false and defamatory statements”, they they should welcome the opportunity to respond directly to Pollack-Pelzner's claims and prove their falsehood. What do you think they are trying to avoid in deciding to bypass their own procedures for termination as described in the faculty handbook?

fiddler

How can this happen? Davis calls Daniel a k--- (no proof) and is not fired. Now, if Daniel called Davis a N----- (with no proof) he would be fired on the spot. Daniel blew the whistle on Baca. Daniel was fired.

These behaviors are not part of our Northwest ethics.

My intuition is that Davis, Baca and the Board may have had a good laugh over their bourbon, scotch, wine, etc., and may have said, “The community will eventually get over it.” This furthers the attitude of ‘power-over’, also not a NW ethic.

Would someone please publish the names of the Board members and the businesses with which they are affiliated? I want to boycott them.

Treehouse

Pollack-Pelzner learned of his termination when his accounts were frozen. The Chair (former) of his department was never formally notified of his termination. No contingency was made for class continuity in the aftermath of the faculty firing. The chair of Pollack-Pelzner's department has now resigned their position as chair. All of Pollack-Pelzner's student and parent emails are now being directed to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students are being threatened with monetary fines for speaking out in support of Pollack-Pelzner.

This is an institution undergoing meltdown.

And these are supposed to be the "smart" intellectual leaders in our local community.

Homer

DPP was a well-liked professor who was fairly amazing. Unfortunately, DPP was also full of himself and got very carried away spreading disinformation. He (and other profs) spend class time convincing impressionable students that the University is not a safe place and is anti-Semitic. Neither could be further from the truth. Shame on DPP for abusing his post. This was akin to inmates running the asylum and enough was enough. Where else in this country could an employee continue to disparage their employer? DPP crossed many lines and was bent on destroying a great university. Although I don't know President Davis personally, I have met him. He is an amazing man making changes for the greater of the University. Could Linfield have handled this better? Of course they could have. This is fairly uncharted, and hopefully everyone will learn from this. I'm a community member, a Linfield donor and a parent of a Linfield student. I support Linfield in terminating DPP. I will continue to get my news from trusted news sources, not social media. I would encourage the same of you.

Oregonian

Homer - Linfield blew it. No matter the validity of the concerns against the professor, this isn't how you handle a crisis.

Your opinion will prove to be in the minority. Linfield will suffer this mistake for years.

Homer

Oregonian ~ There's no doubt that my opinion will be in the minority. But my opinion is based on fact and not social media. I also stand by the fact that DPP was a great professor at one time. Somewhere along the way he lost his path and got consumed with being a pied piper. DPP wants to beat a dead horse on the campus not being safe and calls for Davis and Baka to step down. Neither of them played a part in what happened .... the ex-trustee involved will be in court to face his charges soon. This is all truthful common knowledge. Miles Davis is not anti-semitic. Again, you and I both know that. DPP used this to try to give himself a louder voice. DPP didn't like change and made it known (the wrong way). I liken what DPP did to the anarchists in Portland not protesting, but instead creating as much damage possible. I agree that maybe it wasn't handled in the best way. But it was handled and DPP is being held responsible for his actions. He crossed the line too many times and was determined to take down Davis and Baka, and in the process, Linfield, regardless of the damage that he was doing to the University. He didn't handle things well either. This probably will hurt the University for awhile. Maybe not as long as you think though. In the meantime, I would hope that we get a chance to hear from the University and that the communication improves.

tagup

No doubt that the University is in a no- win situation. From my outside viewpoint this dust up seems to be long on accusations and short on verified facts. Seems the logical ( but unlikely) course would be an independent investigation, and dial back the rhetoric until it’s complete.

I do have one question for “fiddler”.....what exactly are “Northwest ethics”?.....A casual review of history will show that racism, retaliation and anti Semitic behavior have been not only common but even legal, in Oregon’s not to distant past......Not sure things have changed all that much...

Treehouse

Tagup,
the easy and readily available path to a win for the university administration would be for them to follow the process described in their own faculty handbook for the termination of a tenured faculty member. With final exams underway, and commencement this Sunday, Pollack-Pelzner's classes would be uninterrupted, and the process could unfold over the summer before the beginning of fall term and produce an absolute minimum of disruption to academic and student life.

If the administration allegations against Pollack-Pelzner are true, and substantiated, he would be removed from the faculty and the truth of the administration claims, and the claims of those posting here, would be established to the satisfaction of more than just the board executive committee.

It's very hard to understand why the board, the President, the Provost, and the rest of the administration would line up behind an opaque and abrupt termination under controversial circumstances that is almost guaranteed to diminish the university's reputation and standing. And it is disheartening to see faculty, alumni, parents, students, and community supporters of the university settling in to oppositional sides created by this abrupt and controversial decision. A university has a mission and an obligation to be better than this - to foster dialog and understanding through communication and teaching rather than demonstrating a raw exercise of power.

Hibb

The outcry over this very unjust act is now being heard around the world, especially in academia... We have not heard the last of this story which could easily become quite expensive for Linfield.

tagup

Tree- I can’t disagree with your points, but I find it difficult to judge the motivations of University’s actions without knowing the details of previous communications/ warnings between the Admin & Pollack-Pelzner. If the Prof did share privileged information after being warned and ( If) he was disparaging the school leadership in classes.... then he does share some responsibility for his dismissal....and that might explain the urgency to by-pass the standard process. Would a suspension rather than termination have been a more appropriate action?.....hard to say without the backstory....

David Lehman

Homer is spot on.
The accusations against Miles Davis were deemed not sexual harassment by an outside agency hired immediately after the accusations were made.
The David Jubb issue was before Miles was hired.
You can’t just keep slandering someone in your classroom or on Twitter and then call everybody you know that writes for a newspaper and continue the BS and not expect to get fired.
I also find it amazing that no news outlet has investigated this to the point of finding the report issued by whoever did the investigation. Most stories just parrot his Twitter feed or another Professor who is equally unhinged.
In my humble opinion.

Oregonian

Davis admitted in the interview that he knows the termination will go to court. My guess is the prof gets close to $2M. Davis better hope the attorney doesn't go for gross negligence and sue for his personal assets. That's the big problem a lot of alums will have - the board knew they'd be sued, figured they would have to settle, but counted on the Linfield endowment to pay the cost. They just wanted to be done with it and didn't care what the expense was since it wasn't their money.

And for fiddler asking about the board members who own businesses in the local area for boycott purposes - just do a google search. The board member list is readily available and many are indeed associated with local businesses.

Treehouse

tagup,
"If the Prof did share privileged information after being warned and ( If) he was disparaging the school leadership in classes...."
then it would be a fairly straightforward procedural matter to establish these conclusions with formal hearing process.

I would caution you to resist adopting the administration's frames and language in discussing this. The word "privilege" has a specific meaning in a legal context and I don't believe they apply to faculty member of a governing board at a private university. The use of the term by the administration is clumsy at best, but may be intended to muddy the nature of the claims they are making about Pollack-Pelzner. A board or a committee of a board when meeting in certain circumstances can be bound to confidentiality with regard to certain matters of personnel, legal negotiation, or settlement. Violation of that normally results in removal from the board. But at this point we have no idea what the administration is alleging here because they simply refuse to say. The explanations of these circumstances by the senior administration of the university including the President and the Provost are now changing hourly.

All of this could have been done better by simply following the procedures described in the faculty handbook. That would provide the means for establishing "the details of previous communications/ warnings between the Admin & Pollack-Pelzner" as well as any additional "backstory" to everyone's satisfaction. And it would give the university, it's students, faculty, alumni, and administration the opportunity to move past this with no ill repute or hardship.

Oregonian

The Oregonian just published a follow up article by Maxine Bernstein that provides more info. It can be found on oregonlive.com.

There is an audio out take from part of the interview she had with Davis. His responses are bizarre. Davis sounds like he has never been through a crisis before. Instead of putting the focus on why Linfield terminated the prof (which he seems to say wasn't his decision), Davis focused on continuing to rebut the claims against himself and the trustees.

The NAACP has gotten involved and blames the board for Davis' problems and “was unprepared for the challenges a Black leader would undoubtedly face in a predominantly white university.” The NAACP also stated “This is what systemic and institutionalized racism looks like in Oregon". So now, in addition to a lawsuit against Linfield by the fired prof, there is bound to be a lawsuit against Linfield by (the soon to be fired) Davis for harming his career.

It keeps getting worse.

tagup

Tree- I purposely used “If” in my posts to express my neutrality and lack of information on this dispute....
If a reasonable explanation for the employment action, that doesn’t match your opinion, cannot be presented without a “caution”....then it would appear that an open mind on the subject is lacking.
The facts will eventually be revealed, and in the interest of fairness, i would “caution” people to withhold judgment until they are....with that said, I will withdraw from the conversation....

Bill B

In the end, it really doesn't matter what any of you think or write, but one has to wonder how many of you really know the ins and outs of this situation. I know I don't.

Steve000002

Whoever gave the order to ignore the process for terminating tenured professors, set out in the faculty manual, just put the University into the position of being renamed "defendant."

Hibb

Steve000002
So very true and to top it off Davis is also making Linfield a defendant by playing the race card, a claim that has no merit.

aesquire

This just looks like sheer incompetence on the part of Davis and his enablers. For that alone he needs to go.

He has (needlessly, avoidably) involved this school in a metastasizing scandal that has now cost it one eminent professor and one eminent board member (and million-dollar donor). He has pointlessly inflamed students, faculty, alumni (including this writer) during what has already been one of the most stressful, uncertain periods of American life in the last 50 years. In so doing he has overshadowed the 2021 graduation, threatened alumni fundraising for a generation, and severely hurt Linfield's reputation in the wider academic community.

Forget about Pollack-Pelzner - everything the University claimed to justify his firing could be true, and it still would be unlawful and pointless to discharge him as they have. How does this institution expect to recruit talented faculty if applicants see tenured professors subjected to capricious, embarrassing summary termination. (Incidentally, who on earth is giving legal advice to this institution? It is inconceivable that any competent attorney would recommend firing a tenured professor under the conditions described here).

Every day Davis continues serving as President is an embarrassment to this college, and himself. He needs to go now.

Treehouse

tagup,
"If a reasonable explanation for the employment action..."

Another "if" that remains unresolved might not be in the best interests of the institution nor the interests of stakeholders in the community. I'm afraid I don't share your sense of confidence that "(t)he facts will eventually be revealed..." given the approach being pursued by the administration and the board. I'm afraid the only explanation I've seen so far that in any way adequately explains the controversial and abrupt actions take by the administration is to terminate any further communications by anyone trying to reveal those facts.

Yes indeed, the smaller point is that the public, the faculty, the alumni, and the students do not know the full facts here. The larger point is that the administration and the board of trustees are determined to see to it they are never known. I think that's a problem. But that's just my opinion.

Oregonian

Today's new revelations:

The board member who funded the chair for Pollack-Pelzner resigned this weekend. She had given a total of $4M to Linfield in the past.

After the drive-thru commencement this weekend, faculty caught Linfield safety officers removing pro-Pollack-Pelzner fliers from faculty offices. The officers referred to the materials as "evidence" when confronted.

The ironic aspect of this whole story is we have reached the level of drama appropriate for a Shakespearean play.


Lulu

Wow! Great comment, aesquire, about Linfield's "metastasizing scandal." Maybe the administration seeks its legal advice from David C. Baca.

Treehouse

Lulu, let's hope not, for the university's sake.

While you would never find an obstetrician willing to confidently offer a patient treatment advice about a degenerative bone condition in their foot, sadly that kind of professional constraint is not always observed by attorneys.

It is depressingly common to encounter attorneys eager to hold forth with Dunning-Kruger-like certainty about a legal practice area in which they have absolutely no practical experience or training. People like the trustees and administrators at a university ought to be sophisticated enough to know better. But it looks to me like there may be some dysfunctional organizational dynamics at work at Linfield. And that might be leading some of those people to go along with things they would otherwise consider unwise.

Lulu

You know, what really frosts me, in this case and so many others, is the fact women control 60% of wealth and purchasing power in our country; McMinnville is a microcosm reflecting that divide. Women make major decisions in the economic sector. So why are these disgusting, outrageous behaviors tolerated? Some scabrous old lecher with wormy hands leaves his position with glowing praise from those left to run and control the show afterward. Mass shooters declare war on our schools and workplaces. Perverts, pimps, pedophiles ruin millions of lives. And I am speaking of men. Women, you are wearing the ruby slippers and, like Dorothy, are either unaware of your power or must be informed it exists. You're driving the boat. Steer it in a new direction.