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June 30. 2011 9:37PM

Faculty flasher: UNH's crazy contract clause

Just shy of two years after he flashed a woman and her 17-year-old daughter in a supermarket parking lot, a University of New Hampshire professor remains on the payroll, by order of an arbitrator. Exposing one’s self to a teenage girl is not a firable offense at UNH, according to the arbitrator’s interpretation of the faculty contract. What does the faculty union have to say about that? The contract mustn’t change, the union says.

As the public is becoming increasingly fed up with lavish public employee benefits, the faculty union says that even professors convicted of sex-related crimes against teenage girls must have their jobs protected. What astounding arrogance.

The faculty contract includes language stating that faculty can be terminated for “moral delinquency of a grave order.” It does not define those terms. The arbitrator decided that flashing a teenager and her mom did not meet that definition, and thus German professor Edward Larkin could not be fired for the July 19, 2009, crime, to which he pleaded guilty.

So, when he gets back from his one-semester suspension, he’ll be able to teach classrooms full of young women only slightly older than the one to whom he exposed himself. The faculty union is perfectly OK with this, which shows (again) how completely out of touch with the rest of the state its leadership is.

The UNH administration tried last year to change the contract language so that professors could be suspended or fired for a broader array of offenses. The union rejected the proposal. “We don’t want to give the president carte blanche to fire at will,” faculty union President Deanna Wood told our correspondent Clynton Namuo. But the president didn’t ask for the authority to fire at will. He wanted broader authority to terminate professors for cause.

Contract negotiations between the administration and the faculty union are ongoing. The administration should refuse to approve any contract that does not improve the language on suspending and firing professors for cause.


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