Thursday, January 10, 2008

Will the Real Susan O'Malley Please Stand Up?

Susan O’Malley’s recent complaint reveals a very different Susan O’Malley than many around CUNY have encountered in the last decade. Sometimes, it seems as if O’Malley’s chief problem is with the historical record rather than with Sharad Karkhanis. But, of course, it’s not possible for her to obtain $2 million from the historical record.

The complaint: “SUSAN O’MALLEY has always conducted her professional duties with dignity and grace.”

The record: How, then, to explain O’Malley’s unfounded allegations against a CUNY trustee? Reported Inside Higher Ed, “Susan O’Malley, a professor of English at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, said that CUNY’s trustees tried to prevent an adjunct at her campus from teaching the novel The Scar of David. CUNY officials could not be reached for comment, but press accounts suggest that the book was in fact taught.”

Unfounded allegations are inconsistent with someone who “has always conducted her professional duties with dignity and grace.”

The complaint: “SUSAN O’MALLEY found the position of UFS chair to be a demanding, high-stress, nerve-wracking position.”

The record: As far as can be determined, no one forced O’Malley to serve multiple terms as UFS chair. Or to stand for election to the PSC executive committee. Or to serve as executive director of the MLA’s Radical Caucus. Or to issue repeated public comments on higher education issues.

Perhaps O’Malley, for some reason, has regularly placed herself in “high-stress” and “nerve-wracking” situations. Or perhaps she enjoyed the power and influence that flowed from her myriad high-level elective positions, regrets that she has been voted out of office (UFS) or demoted (PSC), and is looking for someone to blame for her political setbacks.

The complaint: “During her term as UFS chair, SUSAN O’MALLEY worked a minimum of 5 days per week, 8 hours per day, and often worked into the evening, on weekends, and during the summer.”

The record: This claim is a bold one indeed. But though the complaint filed by O’Malley attorney Joseph Martin Carasso contained a number of exhibits, it did not include timecards or any other items that would corroborate this assertion. Apparently, O’Malley believes that not only everyone should take her word for how much time she worked as UFS chair, but this uncorroborated assertion should help her obtain $2 million from Karkhanis.

The complaint: “SUSAN O’MALLEY has always conducted her professional duties with dignity and grace.”

The record: “Dignity” and “grace” are not two words that immediately spring to mind to describe O’Malley’s performance in the KC Johnson tenure case. After going out of her way to identify herself as UFS chair, O’Malley published a statement, sent to all CUNY faculty, that misrepresented both Johnson’s publication record and the process through which he received tenure.

Erin O’Connor of Critical Mass blasted O’Malley’s performance in the case, which O’Connor described as that of a powerful senior professor seeking “to libel those junior faculty [she and her allies] seek to fire.”

The complaint: “SUSAN O’MALLEY likes and enjoys teaching and, in fact, defines herself as a teacher as well as a scholar. During her four years as UFS chair, she missed her students.”

The record: However much O’Malley “missed” her students, it evidently wasn’t enough to set aside her ambitions to hold elected office within the CUNY governance structure.

Moreover, on at least one occasion, O’Malley used her position to directly harm her community college students. Chancellor Goldstein created funds for 200 new community college hires, to be assigned to liberal arts departments. O’Malley, however, wanted the lines to go to more easily politicized skills instruction. Her response to the Chancellor’s proposal: “We must change this."

Trying to stop the hiring of 300 new tenure-track faculty members doesn’t sound like behavior associated with someone who “likes and enjoys teaching and . . . missed her students.”

The complaint: O’Malley “never politicked to be reassigned from teaching.”

The record: O’Malley’s initial election as UFS chair—and the released time from teaching that the position provided—was very tight. She now appears to be claiming that she never “politicked” for that position—and that this assertion should help her obtain $2 million from Karkhanis. This line of reasoning doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Who, then, is the real Susan O’Malley? The complainant demanding $2 million from Sharad Karkhanis, on the grounds that she “has always conducted her professional duties with dignity and grace”? Or the Susan O’Malley who made unfounded allegations against a CUNY trustee and an untenured CUNY professor; who tried to block the hiring of 300 new professors; who politicked to win election as UFS chair; and who seemed to revel in her power as UFS chair and ex oficio CUNY trustee?


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