The Faculty Assembly of the Health Sciences Center has considered the events surrounding the dismissal of Dr. Robert Schrier from his post as Chair, Department of Medicine. Our findings are as follows:
- Both Dr. Schrier and Dean Krugman agree that his retirement was discussed on two occasions prior to his abrupt dismissal for “no cause”.
- The University has a right to dismiss individuals from academic administrative posts.
- Faculty members have the right to expect that differences in opinion with the administration will be dealt with openly and in the spirit of joint governance and mediation.
- Dr. Schrier’s contention that his dismissal was punitive and related to his public concerns regarding the financing of the move to Fitzsimons is substantive and supported by the fact that his achievements and leadership within the past year and decade are remarkable and unparalleled in the School of Medicine, or perhaps any other School in the University.
We note that the Department of Medicine provides approximately 1/3 of all NIH grant funding including indirect costs and that these funds contributed heavily (~$800K/yr) to the borrowing used to fund the first research complexes at Fitzsimons which house but few of the Department’s members.
Academic freedom is protected by the Regent Laws:
Article 5.D contains the following statements regarding academic freedom: “The University of Colorado was created and is maintained to afford men and women a liberal education in the several branches of literature, arts, sciences, and the professions. These aims can be achieved only in that atmosphere of free inquiry and discussion, which has become a tradition of universities and is called ‘academic freedom.’” …”All members of the academic community have a responsibility to protect the university as a forum for the free expression of ideas.”
In cases where individuals feel that their academic freedoms have been infringed, a grievance process is outlined by these Laws which extends to administrative positions and actions. We urged Dr. Schrier to follow this process and he did so. Based on our extensive efforts to determine whether he was extended due process, which is to include mediation by the President of the University, we feel Dr. Schrier’s academic freedom was unfairly infringed. Our efforts to achieve mediation – a cornerstone of civil discourse, were similarly rejected by the University.
Therefore, we reiterate our position that an outside body, the American Association of University Professors, should promptly review the actions of the University regarding Dr. Schrier’s dismissal and we call for the University to follow the Laws of the Regents and undertake mediation with Dr. Schrier as opposed to the legal processes now being pursued by both parties.
Faculty Assembly, University of Colorado Denver