Blogs > Liberty and Power > Delusions of Presidential Omnipotence at USM

May 3, 2004 7:33 pm

Delusions of Presidential Omnipotence at USM

News is breaking thick and fast, in the crisis at the University of Southern Mississippi. As always, I am indebted to the Fire Shelby message board for the latest information.

Last night, Roy Klumb, a member of the Mississippi College Board and a notorious partisan of USM President Shelby Thames, appeared on in a TV talk show on WLOX out of Biloxi. Questioned by a skeptical talk show host, Klumb insisted that Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer, the professors who were fired by Thames on March 5, and reinstated for 2 years in a settlement arrived at on April 28, had broken the law. He referred on three occasions to their having committed" crimes." As for the prospect of Thames being fired or pushed to resign, Klumb declared,"It's not gonna happen."

A little background from the hearing last Wednesday, April 28, in which Glamser and Stringer appealed their dismissals: While investigating the claim of Angie Dvorak, Thames' Vice-President for Research, to have been an Associate Professor of English at the University of Kentucky, Stringer included her Social Security Number in a request for information about her credentials that he sent to an employee of the Kentucky community college system. Since Dvorak's Social Security Number has been included in a version of her vita that Thames' own public relations office provided to the media, it is hardly secret information. Moreover, Stringer represented himself, correctly, as a Professor of English at USM when he made the query.

On the talk show, Klumb declared that Glamser and Stringer had obtained the Social Security Number illegally and used it illegally--neither of which is true. Actually, he insisted that the two professors had used USM computers to" commit a crime." (And for what it's worth, Glamser seems to have had nothing to do with obtaining or using the SSN at all.) Klumb went on to assert that if the USM faculty had known about this purported illegal use of the Social Security Number, there would never have been a faculty vote of 430-32 on a resolution of no confidence in Shelby Thames.

Klumb also repeated the inflated student enrollment figure for which the Thames administration got into trouble last fall (16, 000) instead of the true figure (15, 000), and insisted that all of USM's problems would promptly cease, if only tenure were abolished.

Klumb was seeking to nullify the settlement arrived at just last Wednesday (in which the hearing testimony did not support the charge and there was no finding of wrongdoing by the two professors), while exploiting the fact that Glamser and Stringer agreed in the settlement not to publicly criticize Shelby Thames and his administration. Klumb pointedly refused to attend the College Board meeting on Friday at which the settlement was announced. It is clear that the prospects of facing a College Board chaired by Klumb (who becomes Board President on May 8) helped to induce Glamser and Stringer to accept the settlement, for Klumb would have insisted on upholding Thames' decision to fire them.

Klumb's performance almost certainly violated the code of ethics of the Mississippi College Board, which states that

Board members will exercise professional judgment and respect confidentiality in personnel matters, legal matters, executive session matters, and other items of a clearly sensitive nature.

While Shelby Thames' allies drive to obliterate a settlement that conceded far too much to the Thames regime in the first place, the true nature of his administration can be seen from an email that went out recently to the deans of the 5 academic colleges and the library. In it, Thames' Chief Hatchet Man, Jack Hanbury, orders the deans to violate the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to provide information that the Faculty Senate had requested, concerning the process by which recent, highly controversial merit raises were awarded to faculty and administrators. (The email was not obtained the Thames way--with Spyware or from confiscated hard drives. It was provided to the Fire Shelby message board by a person who was given a copy by one of the recipients.)

From: Jack Hanbury

To: [deans]

Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2004

I have been advised that a couple of you have consulted personal counsel and decided to give the FS [Faculty Senate] the requested information regardless of my legal opinion and Dr. Thames’ instructions. The last I heard, Dr. Thames was your boss, not some nebulous “outside counsel.” Quite simply, regardless of what you or your misguided personal counsel think, the law means you take your orders from Dr. Thames and it is not up to you to decide to do otherwise. You are insulated from personal liability for doing so.

I have informed Dr. Thames of your grossly insubordinate action.

Needless to say, if the USM administration got into trouble for non-compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, knowledgeable insiders are convinced that Thames would blame the deans--and fire them for refusing to comply with FOIA. So much for insulation from personal liability! And it is a virtual certainty that the outside lawyers the deans consulted know the law better than Hanbury does.

Also needless to say,"a couple" of the deans at USM could be fired at any moment.

Shelby Thames and his henchcrew are on a rapid course down the road to self-destruction. The real question is how much of the University of Southern Mississippi will still be standing, by the time their self-destruction is complete.

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More Comments:

James Lindgren - 5/5/2004

The ink is scarcely dry and Roy Klumb appears to be breaking it openly:

"8. . . . The parties agree not to make any public comments about this agreement designed to reflect negatively on the opposing party."

Unless there is something here that I am missing (which might well be true), Klumb should be forced to step down immediately for his open, flagrant violation of a solemn promise made to Glamser and Springer.

Also, this settlement does not sound that favorable for Glamser & Springer, unless for some reason they would have retired anyway in two years. Tenure is usually for a long, long time.