November 30. 2013 1:17AM

Unwanted professors: How does one get fired at UNH?


Last December, Marco Dorfman, then chairman of the University of New Hampshire's Language, Literatures and Cultures Department, lowered French lecturer Emile Talpin's student evaluation scores while her contract was up for renewal.

The changes might have cost her not only her job, but also her visa to remain in the United States (she is from France). Amazingly, an arbitrator ruled in November that Dorfman could not be fired for this.

What Dorfman did is not disputed.

He admitted it. He says, however, that he had an emotional breakdown and acted out of character. He has asked for a second chance. The UNH administration wanted him fired. In May, the school did fire him. But the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors appealed to an arbitrator. And for the second time in two years, an arbitrator saved the job of a professor who was deservedly fired.

Remember Edward Larkin? He was the UNH German professor convicted of exposing himself to a girl and her mom in a Market Basket parking lot in 2009. He was fired. An arbitrator reinstated him in 2011, ruling that his punishment would be a one-semester suspension.

UNH now has a Language, Literatures and Cultures Department in which two former chairmen - Larkin and Dorfman - will continue to teach after having been fired for moral wrongdoing. What great marketing for UNH. "Come study foreign languages with two fired professors whom we have to employ though we think they are morally unfit for their positions."

Something is seriously wrong with the arbitration process when such obviously firable offenses as these cannot result in terminations.