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SUNY with a chance of complete obfuscation. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
SUNY with a chance of complete obfuscation.
Earlier today, I saw a completely innoucuous little article in this town's daily newspaper of record that got a hmmm out of me: the dean of my law school was resigning effective December 19, but would remain on the faculty.

But that hmmm turned into an ohhhh myyyy just now- when, while looking for a book review on the local alt-weekly's website, I found this much more detailed version of the resignation story, which suggests that the dean may have committed perjury in a pending case in federal court (links in the excerpt below are Artvoice's):

The UB News Center reports today that Makau Mutua will be stepping down as Dean of UB’s Law School effective December 19. He’ll then return to the law school faculty as SUNY Distinguished Professor and Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar.

From the press release:

UB President Satish K. Tripathi said that through Mutua’s leadership the UB Law School is “well positioned to achieve even greater prominence in legal education and scholarship.”

“I want to express my heartfelt thanks and deepest appreciation to Makau for his leadership and service to our university during his tenure as dean,” Tripathi said.

Mutua was educated at the University of Nairobi, the University of Dar-es-Salaam and Harvard Law School. But the statement from UB doesn’t mention anything that was reported last month in The Star newspaper based in Nairobi, Kenya.

From The Star:
A Kenyan law professor based in US has been accused of committing perjury in an American court, his co-accused now wants the cases separated.

Makau Mutua, a human and civil rights activist, has been accused of lying in court.

He is sued for allegedly irregularly laying off Jeffrey Malkan, a lecturer at Buffalo Law School where Mutua is a Dean.

Evidence against Mutua is said to include sworn deposition testimony and sworn affidavits from seven tenured faculty members.

How embarrassing to all us local media outlets that this hometown story was broken over a month ago by a paper in Nairobi.

I then went back and read the earlier story from the News, and noticed several things I'd missed earlier. One, no mention of the "why" of the resignation- not even the obligatory "spend more time with his family" dodge. Two, the article did not carry a by-line- highly unusual for a piece about a leading executive officer at one of the region's largest employers. And, no mention at all of this case (which has been pending since 2012) or of the involvement in it of another famed member of the Law School faculty, Professor Charles Ewing.

I've never met, or had any dealing with, Dean Matua- he was after my time. But Chuck Ewing arrived in my final year and has become a recognized expert nationwide on juvenile crime- often testifying, or at least opining in public, on the social and other factors that go into why kids sometimes do bad things that get the attention of the courts.

I've read the memorandum in support of the Ewing motion mentioned in the Nairobi newspaper piece (some days it's good to be the lawyer with an electronic-filing account). It tells an all-too-familiar tale of modern academia, where the new-guy faculty goes up against the entrenched old guard who keep him out of their Tenure Club. I read the names of the promotion committee which New Guy had to pass in order to get in: at least eight of the eighteen were on faculty when I was there more than 30 years ago, and many of them are pushing closer to 40 years of tenure. (At least one of those eight, I've seen several times off-campus in the ensuing decades, who married one of the students in the class behind me and their kid went to our local high school with Emily.)

Did they promote him? And if so, who voted to do so? Those are among the contentions in the civil case later brought by New Guy, and the accusation is that the dean lied on the record of New Guy's employee-relations hearing following his decision not to renew his contract- and that he did it again in the course of the civil case brought thereafter.

This is about as powerful as shit gets between a bunch of academics, and both the university and the region's newspaper of record elected not to mention a word of it in announcing the resignation. There are, at present, no criminal charges in federal court on account of any of it, and the accusation is just that and no more at this point- but to sweep it under the rug is an outright embarrassment to the standards of truth that both a university and a newspaper should be upholding.

And the final irony? The governor of Our Fair State named the UB SUNY Buffalo Law School* dean to his crimefighting political corruption committee last year- which the Guv then promptly and unilaterally dissolved once it started investigating political corruption among some of Cuomo's own political cronies. A United States Attorney from downstate is now investigating whether anyone or everyone in the Executive Mansion can be charged with federal crimes over THAT.


* Although the Buffalo News article, such as it was, refers to the "University at Buffalo Law School," the school itself has rebranded itself in most of its own pitches to alumni as "SUNY Buffalo School of Law," to emphasize its statewide standing as the state university's only law school. I've written before, to them and in here, about my displeasure with the school acting ashamed of its 125-year roots in Western New York, and noting that my other state-supported alma mater, Cornell University, has somehow resisted the need to rechristen itself "SUNY Ithaca."

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