David L. Hawk
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A blog on this subject is found at njitbs.wordpress.com. This posting on the conception of character is an abstraction from that blog. The blog addresses concerns at the intersection of two New Jersey institutions. Both are funded by the public and both are intended to serve the public good. They are New Jersey: 1) Pubic Universities and 2) Judicial Systems. One takes money from the public domain and distributes it liberally in the other domain. What is the benefit therein derived?
As is to be expected societal institutions requires funding, maintenance, occasional change, and eventual rehabilitation or even replacement. The bias herein is for how to accomplish occasional improvements so catastrophic replacement is not needed. Those interested in the field can look into institution building, often called social architecture. Therein you will find materials to guide maintenance, remodeling and management, but not so much on abandonment. There is additional material on building missing institutions in society where the most interesting ones are built on the refuse of unused or, harmful and previously abandoned, institutions. In the mentality of the US body politic the US Congress is just now a candidate for abandonment. Perhaps the best way to improve is to raise the issue of how each is funded and ask to see what benefits are derived from what the public invests? Perhaps we start with who do these two institutions serve, is it the public, the public good, or do they work for the interests of a few lawyers and a few educators that have taken control over them.
Discussion is emerging in politics of creating a missing institution as oversight of traditional governance. It is concerned with rebuilding a more perfect judicial system. It questions the role of lawyers in government and in litigation. Its calls for ethics to enter both activities and manage the consequences of badly written, often corruptly directed laws while helping badly prepared lawyers or burnt out lawyers who have trouble meeting schedules and then lack time for ethical considerations. The role of lawyers would therein be changed. The role of lawyers in writing legislation may need to be reduced in favor of those whose language and attitude can better represent the values of the majority of citizens. Examples of this can be seen in other countries, such as those in Scandinavia where the judicial creed is: “The first step in getting citizens to obey the law is to write it so they can understand it. Lawyers are demonstrably incompetent at this.” (Hawk, 1977)
This may all be relevant since the US has ten times the number of lawyers per capita compared to our trading partners. There is much evidence that the majority of their activities are harmful to the well being of the economy and sense of justice. One argument against reducing the need for lawyers is to point out how effective the current system is in that the US has more of its citizens locked up than any other country in the world, including China. Those with this attitude proudly conclude that: “We must be doing something right.” This is perhaps the Nancy Reagan attitude to crime and punishment: “Just say no, then lock em up and throw away the key.”
We might want to revisit 18th Century concerns about lawyers packing the Supreme Court. There is an argument that the court cannot be worse if there are only non-lawyers on the Supreme Court. In fact, having no law school graduates might allow it to adopt a more citizen based attitude towards laws and legal interpretations. This might limit the widespread use of incoherent legalese to cover up not knowing what to say or how to say it, or not having had sufficient time to reflect on what ought to be said or thought.
The situation in public universities is similar. Prior objectives of providing a forum for student learning and negotiating with if not finding the truth have become overshadowed. College sports, faculty unions and second rate leaders pretending to be business CEOs have provided an agenda that continually raises tuition above any rate of inflation and promote faculty that do their utmost to avoid having to teach, or teach as if it was not the reason they were there. The result are unprepared graduates with stifling tuition borrowings that keeps them from contribution to society improvement.
Both institutions exhibit problems in their character and the characters they attract. The issue of character inside and outside the current judicial and educational systems provide a foundation for discussions about what is and what ought to be. The challenges of climate change will bring human character to center stage. Mass migration, wide-spread arguments over land, food and materials will require much more robust and fair judicial and educational systems then we currently have.
Just now the current determinant of success in court proceedings seems to be the image of power measured by a litigant’s access to money, including access to tax paper’s money. Truth can still emerge but the route to it is often not obvious. It should be more obvious. Success in the university system is measured by teachers who do their utmost to avoid teaching in order to write tier one papers that no one one reads. Promotion and tenure in universities is granted to those who totally avoid service, make derogatory comments about those who want to teach and their students, and spend their time writing papers where their colleagues at other universities evaluate them.
Symbiotic Negatives of Justice Linked to Education
The blog referenced at the beginning is about the process of a university, NJIT, using the judicial process to bring David Hawk to justice relative to the character of Hawk’s actions as a dean. More specifically, was he ethical, relative to conflicting interests in serving the public of New Jersey? Many millions of public dollars and many years of many people’s public service came to be invested in the process of answering this question. During these years Professor Hawk was banned from campus as he was said to have planned a “take over” of the university for his purposes. Regardless of this silliness he as a seemingly successful teaching (per ratings on “rate-my-professor.com” and his having won most student and alumni sponsored teaching awards in the university) was kept from the classroom. Per his rosters he was about ten thousand students in his courses at NJIT while teaching there. He was also banned from an administration tole in the business school, a role that a judge reviewing his management practices commented was a pathway to the 21th Century.
This process began with four professors going to the president to complain about Hawk after he removed them from teaching in an EMBA program where they each received an extra ten thousand dollars compensation. They were removed based on student comments and the role of student comments in re-accreditation. One of the faculty members when on to actually charge Hawk with more serious crimes than only having removed her from teaching advanced students. An internal report concluded six months later that of the 8 serious charges he was faced with there was no evidence to support any of the charges. The report did whimsically comment that Hawk needed to face further investigation and that perhaps Hawk ought not to have have been in administration because he could not tolerate incompetence.
Perhaps this university is due for rehabilitation. Student tuition was raised almost the same amount as the process against Hawk cost. This involved expenditure of millions in direct and indirect costs. The result of this as it emerged in a final hearing that had been scheduled for two weeks but taking eighteen months was 25 charges were reduced to one. Even it was based on speculation and later shown to not be true, based on the evidence provided. There was simply no supporting evidence for even this one charge. None the less the university board of trustees took that charge an added two more seemingly to justify the years and millions invested. The charge was that he had set up then manipulated a search committee to hire a friend of his.
It was the first time a search committee had been used in the school, according to Hawk, in order to bring more democracy into school management. Hawk admitted that the person hired, one of 36 where the judge also evaluated her as the best candidate, was indeed a friend. She was recommended by the search committee. He defined friend as someone he trusted.
Thus, we are left with an interesting questions. Is it more in the public interest to hire those you do not trust? Perhaps more important is how to prove their case the university administration destroyed thousands of pages of material showing the actual search and related process, and the nature of the friendship between Hawk and the person hired. The interim dean, appointed by the university president, who trashed all the evidence of the hiring also destroyed the hard drive of a central school computer so records maintained for two decades were also lost. In addition two computers used by Hawk at the time and in offices where only administration had access were damaged in Hawk’s absence.
As a brief introduction to the idea that characters involved in the case used interesting characteristics to characterize David Hawk’s character. A few are offered in this list:
- One of two prosecutors hired by NJIT to prosecute the case against Hawk’s ethics was the first faculty member Hawk fired after becoming Dean as that lawyer was not qualified to teach business law per accreditation requirements.
- The University General Counsel hired an outside law firm to prosecute the case against Hawk as well as the judge that would evaluate Hawk’s degree of guilt for eventual punishment. All three were on a first name basis and all were paid $500/hour. The funds were taken from student tuition and tax payer money.
- The judge hired to manage the hearing was a retired chair of the appeals court that was to hear the case later to see if it was done in a legitimate manner.
- According to testimony the key prosecution witness had been threatened by university lawyers and ended up giving four different versions of what had happened. The judge found him to be credible in his final report, and the one version given consistently by Hawk to not be credible.
- Hawk was accused of manufacturing evidence to support his testimony, where the handwritten notes were said by the judge to have been produced long after the search process where Hawk claimed he made the notes. An affidavit of a witness verifying this to not be so was not allowed into the record. A later letter from a member of the search committee verifying Hawk’s account was not reviewed by the Appeals Court thus their former Chair’s logic was allowed to stand.