Texas Tech Faculty Oppose Gonzales


By Sarah Nightingale, Lubbock AVALANCHE-JOURNAL
First appeared on lubbockonline.com: 4:24 p.m. Friday.
More than 40 Texas Tech professors have objected in a petition to Chancellor Kent Hance's decision to hire former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, according to the petition's creator.
Petition creator Walter Schaller, a Tech philosophy professor since 1986, said Friday he decided to take action because "with the emphasis on ethics the university has adopted, a guy that misled Congress is not the kind of person we want to represent Texas Tech."
Hance said Friday evening he was aware of the petition, but had not yet seen the document. It would not affect Gonzales' appointment, he said.
"That's their freedom of speech and I applaud that, but you don't go around making decisions based on faculty positions," Hance said. "The dean and the department head both signed off on this."
A copy of the petition released to The A-J Friday shows 38 faculty signatures. Gonzales will teach a junior-level seminar class, "Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch," for the department and recruit minority and underrepresented students, Hance announced earlier this month.
Schaller said the petition has seven additional supporters, bringing the total number of signers to 45 since it began circulating Sunday.
The petition cites two main reasons for opposing Gonzales' hire: because the chancellor should not hire faculty and because Gonzales' record is questionable. The attorney general resigned from his post amid controversy in 2007.
"It is unclear what Gonzales has done that makes him deserving of employment at Texas Tech. Does he have a noteworthy academic record? Does he have a record of publishing in law reviews? Was his service to his country particularly distinguished?" the petition reads.Hance's hiring of a "good friend" is in conflict with Tech's "Statement of Ethical Principles," according to the petition, which calls the chancellor's involvement in selecting faculty and the "celebrity hire" as "troubling."
The document goes on to list Gonzales "ethical failings," including: frequently misleading Congress and the American people; rejecting the Geneva Conventions; denying the constitutional right of habeas corpus; and showing more loyalty to President George W. Bush than to the Constitution.
"I tried to document all of the charges against Gonzales," Schaller said, citing a 2008 Department of Justice report and a 2009 Inspector Generals' report investigating Gonzales' surveillance programs as his information sources.
Once the signature gathering process is finished, Schaller said the petition will be delivered to the chancellor's office.
Since Gonzales has already been hired, Schaller said he does not expect Hance to withdraw his offer or the former attorney general to decline the appointment.
"Since Hance said Gonzales may have an opportunity to stay on beyond the first year, I think it's important that faculty raise their voice now," he said. Schaller added he was less concerned about Gonzales' administrative position than the faculty job.
"Hance has no business in getting involved in hiring faculty," he said. "Even if there is no coercion (in the hire), it is very difficult for faculty to say no (to Hance)." Hance said Tech President Guy Bailey had worked with Dean of Arts and Science Lawrence Schovanec and political science department chair Phillip Marshall in finding Gonzales a teaching slot.
Bailey was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment. In a previous A-J interview, Hance said all 15 slots in Gonzales seminar class filled quickly; he said the university would consider adding more seats to address the demand.