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UCLA Distinguished Professor, Dr. Edward L. Keenan tells how UCLA actually operates beneath its "True Bruin" pledges, "integrity" marketing slogans, and its multibillion-dollar fundraising campaigns:


"[A] random collection of faculty (however distinguished) has no status within the university power structure.

 No one would be obliged to pay any attention to us."

"[T]he faculty member you mentioned might be able to push for readmission

without the dept having to acknowledge any wrongdoing." (my emphasis)

Letter 3 to UCLA Distinguished Professor, Dr. Edward L. Keenan:

Dear Dr. Edward Keenan,

     Thank you for your email regarding [UCLA] Dean [Timothy] Stowell's reply to your letter.  Because you also said there that you don't understand why I didn't follow up on efforts by Dr. Brenner and Dr. Val Rust (the GSE&IS faculty member) to have me readmitted, I thought you might like to know the facts on what actually occurred, so that you may understand what I am following up on.

     After Dr. Brenner and Dr. Rust had examined the facts of my termination "in excruciating detail" (Brenner), Dr. Brenner wrote to let me know that Dr. Rust was "willing to act himself to have [me] readmitted" and that they had both met with Amy Gershon and had got the matter moving in that direction.  Not more than twenty minutes later, Brenner, Rust, and I received an email from Gershon telling us all that I was going to have to apply for admission "in competition with the other applicants."  Shortly thereafter, Brenner wrote to tell me that he "[did] not understand" Gershon's message and that he "was taken by surprise and taken aback by this letter of Amy's, as it is at odds with what Val said"—"that he would simply have Tom re-admitted himself."  My subsequent phone conversation with Brenner about this chain of events, [. . .], suggested to me that Gershon had merely (and belatedly) conveyed to him and Rust the demands of her administrative superiors: Do not pursue this matter any further, facts and academic principles be damned.

     During my subsequent meeting with Gershon, she told me that she "cannot speak to the facts" and wanted to "cut out the middlemen" (Brenner and Rust) to simply reiterate that I would be applying for admission in competition with other applicants. To be sure, Gershon is a departmental functionary; she has no decision-making responsibilities in student admissions. Accordingly, whatever was contained in her "fairly detailed reply" to Dean Stowell is of no consequence, since she has no authority to consider facts (by her own admission), or questions on the university's academic principles raised by these facts.


     Perhaps these additional facts will now allow you to understand that my re-applying to the GSE&IS was in no way going to "push the school to reconsider [my] case."  There is a clear and crucial distinction between my being readmitted (appropriately, by faculty members responsible for facts and academic principles) and my being told by a low-level functionary (with no concern for facts and no decision-making authority) that I would only be considered for admission in competition with the thousands of other applicants seeking the same.  As such, these facts make it unnecessary for you to conclude that it "is apparently not the case" that I only want to be readmitted to the GSE&IS, as I told you.

     What strikes me most about this entire matter is the apparent unwillingness of faculty members to put themselves back in the position they once held—and still hold, really.  Imagine yourself being thrown out of your position and thereafter told that your university's administrators could not be expected to verify the (erroneous) information they had used to give you the boot.  Then imagine that your colleagues offered you the same conclusions on your removal that they offered me, but then told you that they simply did not want to pursue the matter any further.

     Your stating that you do not want to pursue this matter any further would make it appear that you also have no further concern for how the university operates on its students—in your name.  Of course, it's not actually possible for UCLA faculty members to say that they don't want to pursue factual matters bearing directly on the university's academic principles and operational integrity.  Rather, these UCLA faculty members who are aware of the facts of my termination and do not want to pursue them are simply saying that a relative few of the university's administrators tell them when facts and academic principles matter, and when they don't.

     Now I would like to share a bit of what you've said to me with Dr. Noam Chomsky, specifically, your statements: "a random collection of faculty (however distinguished) has no status within the university power structure" and "No one would be obliged to pay any attention to us [faculty members]."  I will tell Dr. Chomsky that I am acutely aware of how infinitesimal this matter is when put alongside the vast amount of vital work he is deeply involved in worldwide, but that he has always demonstrated a keen interest in being correct (or corrected) on matters of fact and principles in all of his work.  Therefore, I believe he will understand the broad ramifications of the position you're taking here at UCLA and will appreciate knowing that he is not to be so sure that a few of his selected colleagues at UCLA will come to the defense of fundamental academic principles, and the university itself.

     In closing, I would like to emphasize one point that you don't appreciate (though there is reason why you should).  Namely, UCLA's "power structure" is precisely what you're presently using to excuse yourself as you have from your substantial responsibilities to the university as a whole.  This structure assures you that it will use its power to shield you (and others within) from the "Light" it loudly proclaims there is to be in this university.


Tom Wilde

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