A "truly astounding" complaint from college spokesperson Lisa Daglian regarding David Orland's article. The college's position--both in tone and content--speaks for itself.
 
I am truly astounded that you would chose to run an article that is so riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods, particularly without even having the courtesy to call Brooklyn College for an official response. (Refusing to Play the Game by David Orland).  This one sided piece tells Professor Johnson's version of the story, but there is so much to the story that begs telling it is difficult to know where to start.  The article impugns Brooklyn College's History Department, its faculty and students without one single shred of evidence or even an investigation into the facts.  Indeed, it conveniently left out the fact that Professor Johnson put himself up for promotion to full professor after only 2 1/2 years at Brooklyn College.  Nor does it mention the very real and substantive reasons that led to the situation in which Professor Johnson now finds himself.  It leaves out the fact that the decision to reappoint him was made by President Christoph Kimmich -- not under pressure, not under duress, but following a thorough review of all files and papers.  The process used for ppromotion [sic] (which does not automatically lead to tenure) and the process for reappointment have been in place for some 30 years and have proved time and again to work well.  However, it would be impossible for the writer to know that as he never bothered to ask.
 
I strongly encourage you to check facts and engage in responsible journalism when running articles that are of such a serious nature.  There are two sides to every story, and your readers deserve better than they got. 

Lisa Daglian
Director of Public Relations
Brooklyn College


David Orland then turns to the facts to shred the Daglian argument.

Dear Lisa,

 

If I did not contact you in preparing my recent editorial on the KC Johnson controversy at Brooklyn College ("Refusing to Play the Game"), it is because I seriously doubted that BC's administration would have anything of value to tell me that it had not already said to The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.  Your letter has only confirmed my suspicions. 

 

Since Professor Johnson's story first broke, Brooklyn College has made numerous efforts to spin the story its way.  What it has not done, to my knowledge, is confront head-on any of the substantive charges leveled by Johnson against History Department Chairman Gallagher or the BC administration.  Instead, the preferred strategy seems to have been to deflect external criticism by delving into procedural detail (difficult to explain) while darkly hinting at as yet unaired evidence (impossible to disprove). 

 

Your letter is entirely in keeping with this strategy.  There are, you assert, "very real and substantive reasons" that "led to the situation in which Professor Johnson now finds himself."  What these are, you don't say.  Until you do so, you must not be surprised -- much less "astounded" -- when others remain less than convinced. 

 

Your letter also contains a number of substantive criticisms of my article, which you claim to have found "riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods."  None of these stands up to scrutiny.  Indeed, in making your case, you succeed in producing inaccuracies and falsehoods of your own.  For instance:

 

i) "The article," you write, "impugns Brooklyn College's History Department, its faculty and students without one single shred of evidence or even an investigation into the facts."  As a matter of fact, I say nothing disparaging about Brooklyn College students and indeed praise those students who have rallied behind Professor Johnson.  As for evidence, Johnson's extraordinary legal memorandum supplied more of that than I knew what to do with.  In cases where there might have been some question, I requested that Johnson supply me with quoted emails, which he did. 

 

ii) You also claim that I have "conveniently left out the fact that Professor Johnson put himself up for promotion to full professor after only 2 years at Brooklyn College" and that the process used for promotion "does not automatically lead to tenure."  I have been informed, however, that, according to Article 6.2(b) of the CUNY Bylaws, "persons promoted to the rank of full professor shall be granted tenure after not more than four full years of continuous full-time service."  Since Professor Johnson was hired as an untenured associate professor and shall shortly be completing his fourth year of continuous full-time service, your claim that the process used for promotion "does not automatically lead to tenure" is simply wrong in this instance.  Indeed, you conveniently leave out the fact that, far from being a caprice on Professor Johnson's part, it was History Department Chairman Gallagher himself who first suggested that Johnson put himself forward as a candidate for tenure.  And your claim that "the process used for promotion [ . . .] and the process for reappointment have been in place for some 30 years and have proved time and again to work well" sits (at best) uneasily with CUNY spokesman Jay Hershenson's admission to the New York Times (12-18-02) that the chancellor was "reviewing the matter in light of questions raised about the fairness of the process."

 

iii) Finally, you charge that I misrepresent President Christoph Kimmich's decision to renew Johnson's contract for a year, a decision that you claim was made "not under pressure, not under duress, but following a thorough review of all files and papers."  Your charge, however, does not square with remarks made by Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld in the Kingsman (10-14-02) that "once it became an association of the press, his [Johnson's] dismissal would have reflected poorly."  Are you suggesting that the publicity surrounding the Johnson case had nothing to do with President Kimmich's decision to review and then overturn the committee's negative recommendation?  Under the circumstances, that would indeed be remarkable.

 

In the end and all technical administrative questions notwithstanding, the KC Johnson case is really quite simple: either Professor Johnson was denied tenure as part of an organized campaign on the part of political enemies at BC to run him out of the College, as he charges, or he wasn't.  In his support, Johnson has succeeded in mustering an impressive array of documentary and circumstantial evidence and, in particular, some very damaging email correspondence.  Brooklyn College, by contrast, has yet to add a single shred of new evidence to the discussion.  More to the point, it has altogether failed to address the particulars of Johnson's case, whether by denying the existence or veracity of Johnson's evidence or by producing additional grounds in support of the charge of "uncollegiality" leveled against him during the tenure review proceedings. 

 

The Brooklyn College administration does indeed have a right to be heard.  However, to be heard, it must first say something.  Until it does so, I stand by my article.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

David Orland