Judge Seeks Firing of Iowa State Professor - Higher Education
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Judge Seeks Firing of Iowa State Professor

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by Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa ― A judge has recommended the firing of an Iowa State University math professor, blasting his teaching style and lack of research and service after hearing the disciplinary case against him.

Moulay Tidriri should be dismissed after years of feuding with superiors and student complaints about his teaching, Administrative Law Judge Carol Greta wrote in a 27-page decision obtained by The Associated Press.

Tidriri, who joined ISU in 1996, deserves the “ultimate sanction”” for several reasons, including his repeated lack of cooperation with university officials trying to evaluate and improve his performance, Greta wrote in the Oct. 27 decision.

She cited Tidriri’s “unfavorable learning climate in his courses; his extraordinary lack of productivity in research; and his meager record of service to his profession.”

Provost Jon Wickert filed a disciplinary charge against Tidriri in January, alleging “substantial, persistent and manifest neglect of faculty duties” between 2008 and 2013. Tidriri chose to have the case heard by an administrative law judge instead of a campus committee.

Greta, who oversaw a four-day hearing in August, was asked to consider whether the university proved Tidriri’s performance was unacceptable for an extended period and if so, what sanction was appropriate.

The firing will become final within 20 days unless Tidiri appeals to ISU President Steven Leath. Tidriri, whose salary is $70,693, and his attorney didn’t respond to phone messages seeking comment.

University spokesman John McCarroll declined to comment.

Tidriri, 49, sued the university in 2011, alleging discrimination and retaliation. A jury in May rejected those claims, and Tidriri is appealing. He has filed a separate petition asking a judge to suspend the disciplinary case, contending that ISU mishandled his grievances. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which is defending the university, recently made Greta’s decision public as part of that case.

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The conflict dates to at least 2004, when Tidriri was passed over for a promotion to full professor. An administrator that year tried to address “serious grievances students have had with Tidriri’s teaching,” Greta noted.

Since then, Tidriri hasn’t updated his “position responsibility statement” on which all professors are evaluated annually and refused to submit other required information about his activities, Greta wrote. He also refused to allow a review committee to observe his classroom in 2012 and didn’t cooperate with other attempts by department chairs to evaluate him, she said.

Tidriri has defended his noncompliance by alleging that colleagues mistreated him, but Greta called that excuse “reminiscent of a demand for sympathy as an orphan after killing one’s parents.”

“It would be ludicrous for ISU to allow a faculty member to avoid evaluation based on the sort of self-serving allegations made by Dr. Tidriri,” she wrote.

Tidriri, who has post-graduate degrees from a prestigious university in Paris, came to ISU after working as a researcher at Yale. He earned tenure in 2000, served on the editorial board of a prestigious journal from 2005 to 2006 and won a National Science Foundation grant in 2007.

But Greta said she was disturbed that students had repeatedly complained that Tidriri was often late to class and condescending. She said his work hasn’t been published since 2005 and he failed to prove his claim that he was working on several papers, calling his lack of research productivity unacceptable. She said his service was lacking too, saying he did little to help the university or wider profession.

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