To the Editor:
I write in regard to the recent article, “After Mysterious Suspension of Award-Winning UCLA Professor, Scientists Fight Back,” (The Chronicle, January 25).
While some statements have been presented as facts, those statements are without substantiation. Further, we are bound to respect the privacy of the numerous individuals involved in this matter, which unfortunately removes our ability to address any specifics.
These statements are causing irreparable harm to individuals who are not able to respond publicly because they are observing university policy related to privacy and confidentiality, creating an imbalance in the public discourse.
While our inability to comment on specifics carries the risk that misinformation, if any, is not corrected or that the university’s actions are misunderstood in the forum of public opinion, fairness and policy require that personnel issues be addressed through a deliberative and confidential process.
We can, however, make a few important statements:
- UCLA supports freedom of expression and does not condone retaliation of any sort, at any time.
- UCLA is committed to maintaining a diverse, inclusive and respectful learning, teaching, and working environment for all members of our community.
- Personnel processes and laws require privacy, which limits us from addressing specific claims.
- When allegations arise that academic personnel or others have failed to uphold these values, UCLA has processes in place to investigate claims before it determines whether to take action and what action is appropriate.
At UCLA, as throughout the University of California, alleged violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct are adjudicated under a system of “shared governance” by members of the faculty through a multi-stage process. It begins with a review by the Academic Senate Charges Committee which decides whether there is probable cause to proceed to a disciplinary hearing. Where Charges finds probable cause, the Academic Senate Privilege and Tenure Committee, which is also comprised of faculty members, will review evidence and hear from witnesses before deciding the merits of the case. Proceedings before both of these committees are confidential pursuant to bylaws adopted by the Academic Senate. If the case is found to have merit, there are formal processes and guidelines outlined by university policy, which is also the product of “shared governance,” that determine the appropriate disciplinary actions.
Michael S. Levine
Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel
University of California at Los Angeles