The University of California Board of Regents is scheduled this week to discuss a highly unusual proposal to fire a veteran tenured professor and deny him the perks of emeritus retirement.
The case involves 65-year-old Sarkis Joseph Khoury, a UC Riverside international finance professor who has been in lengthy court disputes over UC allegations that he improperly received outside income during sabbaticals, reports the Los Angeles Times
Because of confidentiality rules covering personnel actions, the regents' agenda item does not give a reason for the possible discipline.
However, Khoury and one of his attorneys confirm that the regents' discussion is the result of his long-term disagreements over his sabbaticals, his Republican political views and Lebanese heritage, and his advocacy for hiring minority professors, among other matters.
Khoury, who has sued, and been sued by, UC during the past 15 years, told the Times that he has not violated any UC rules and is the victim of a witch hunt and efforts to squelch dissent on the Riverside campus.
In roughly the past two decades, regents have dismissed half a dozen tenured faculty members for various reasons, UC system spokesman Steve Montiel told the Times. According to UC faculty policy, conduct violations include plagiarism, sexual harassment of a student, racial discrimination, failure to carry out teaching duties and using UC facilities for personal gain. The possible penalties include a written censure, demotion, suspension and dismissal.
Only the regents can fire a tenured professor after review by a campus faculty committee, the campus chancellor and the system president, officials said.
"It is extremely unusual," Robert Anderson, a UC Berkeley economist and chairman of the UC system's Academic Senate, told the Times.
A regents committee is scheduled to discuss the matter in private session Wednesday, and the full board is supposed to vote on it, again in a closed meeting, on Thursday.
James Link, the Pasadena attorney who represented Khoury in the recent appeals court case, said UC has spent so much on lawyers in cases against his client that the total must dwarf any sabbatical fees in question. "That's money that should have been in the school system, not going after professor Khoury," Link said.
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