May 3, 2011

Tenure Committee F***s With Kiese Laymon, Questions Graduate School Degree

Professor (and occasional Mads guest blogger) Kiese Laymon took to his blog to explain how the Faculty Appointments and Salary Committee stopped looking into a possible tenure appointment after unethically requesting personal information and verification that he graduated from graduate school.

First, Kiese explains, FASC asked to see his Penguin book contract, which contains personal information. "My initial anger, sadness and dismay came from the fact that the entire contract is indeed personal information," he wrote to the committee and called the request "unprofessional and unethical" and "disrespectful and sad."

"Though I am your junior colleague," he continues in the letter, "I am not a child...I never thought of FASC as celestial gate-keepers who can ask for whatever they want from potential candidates. Perhaps I was wrong."

Soon after, a FASC member reportedly told Kiese the committee finds him "intimidating" and can no longer "fairly assess" him.

But there's more. Kiese then found out from an email that was mistakenly sent to a colleague that FASC sought verification of his graduation from Indiana University's graduate school program. He again wrote to FASC, this time not holding back: "I’m going to ask you kindly one more time to please stop fucking with me. I mean that with sincerity and kindness."

FASC's response the following week: "FASC has decided to recuse itself in the case of Kiese Laymon."


Update 5/6: To respond to a question that so many of you have been asking, we temporarily disabled commenting on this post so that we could have a chance to respond to feedback from concerned readers while the post remained somewhat static. We're continuing to look into the story and we urge readers to see Professor Laymon's original post here.


Kiese Laymon said...

Hi Mads,

I appreciate you linking to my site but I'd really appreciate it if this were taken down. You reportage of what happens understandably leaves a lot out and actually shifts the focus of my post. I'm thankful for all you do on the campus but would love it if you kindly took this post down.

Nono said...

this complaint sounds absolutely bonkers. no wonder he wants you to take the post down. whoever heard of cursing out members of a campus committee over a basic document request, and accusing people of discrimination because of an email linking to a PUBLIC grad school website profile? if i were on that tenure committee, i'd be beyond insulted. if i were someone here who has actually suffered a serious case of discrimination, i'd be pissed that thanks to prof. laymon crying wolf, real problems will now be taken less seriously.

people ask for copies of official documents all the time. HELLO! if i want to get a job somewhere, a company will ask to photocopy my driver's license and/or passport. should i freak out and tell them to just take my word for it that i can legally work here? in my grad school applications this year, every school asked for official transcripts to be sent to them from the college. should i start a riot, pick up the batphone and call cappy because my schools refused to accept the grades i copied & pasted from AskBanner?

i would hope that anyone teaching at vassar, or any other school, is able to provide official documentation that they're doing what they're getting paid to do, without throwing a tantrum that their privacy is being violated. let's not get into the fact that prof. laymon probably offers up more unsolicited details about his personal history than anyone else at this school. don't take my word for it (i wouldn't expect you to); just wait for his next blog post.

Anonymous said...

It was good of you to put these comments back up; readers have the right to know if a subject of the story feels misrepresented. That said, I also give you props for leaving the story up. Because of the intrigue of the story and Laymon's public acknowledgement of the conflict, this is very much news and should therefore be reported. Since news is (ideally) reported neutrally, anyone covered as part of a conflict will feel misrepresented. Just use your best judgment -- as it appears you did in this post -- and stay the course.

Anonymous said...

i agree with nono.
there is nothing wrong at all if an accredited college requests documentation when considering someone for something as important as tenure.
actually, i would have found it highly irresponsible if they chose not to fact check because it is their responsibility.
one only says it's an invasion of privacy if that person has something to hide or has insecurities about the actual documents.
accusing a institution such as ours with "unethical" practices is a bit severe, especially when they are just doing their job.

Anonymous said...

When the college has never questioned any other faculty member's degree in this way before, then we know what sort of thinking is driving these actions.

Zack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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