Another Hunter College Dean Bites the Dust, Allegations of a Witch Hunt

His name at the time of his departure was Dean Erec R. Koch, a Ruth and Harold Newman Dean, and the Hunter community learned of his departure in a Tuesday, July 2 email: “I write with great regret to inform you that I will no longer serve as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to work with the talented and dedicated A&S faculty and staff during the past two years.*

Former Dean Erec R. Koch

Former Dean Erec R. Koch at the resignation party of Assistant Dean Maria Anderson

It was sent in the wake of brutally frank comments about President Raab in an earlier resignation letter by a former assistant dean to Dean Koch. In that earlier resignation letter, the resigning Assistant Dean, Maria Anderson, castigated Raab for “personal attacks”  and creating “a culture of fear and mistrust,” and she also wrote that Dean Koch had been targeted by President Raab.

“It is quite clear that a witch-hunt against you is underway and that it includes an attempt  to fabricate instances of financial mismanagement on your part.  You are certainly the prime target, though as the chief financial officer of the School, the daily expenditure decisions were largely mine to make,” Anderson wrote.

The names of others in the Dean’s office were mentioned in the email.

Dean Koch said at the resignation party for Dean Anderson that he had not been terminated. It was a wry comment without sarcasm. Several days later he announced his resignation.

This is the first of several stories.

Below is a copy of the resignation of Dean Erec R. Koch sent to members of the School of Arts and Sciences of Hunter College. It comes a few weeks after the resignation of Maria Anderson.

From: Robert E Kulesz
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:37 AM
To: Robert E Kulesz
Subject: Message from Erec R. Koch to A&S faculty and staff

Dear Colleagues:

I write with great regret to inform you that I will no longer serve as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to work with the talented and dedicated A&S faculty and staff during the past two years.*

In partnership with you, the Office of the Dean can claim some significant accomplishments: we have launched a series of successful and enriching faculty research seminars; completed a compelling strategic plan; developed effective Web-based means to publicize faculty, student, and staff news and accomplishments; devised best practices for faculty mentoring and for fostering the development of interdisciplinary programs; created travel grants for graduate students; increased the number of Hunter students who received prestigious national scholarships and fellowships; devised and implemented effective and equitable ways to submit and review faculty and staff search, equipment, and facilities requests.

Most importantly, we have striven every day to fulfill our mission: namely, to help create the conditions necessary for the faculty—each of you, all of you—to thrive as researchers and teachers.

I maintain abiding respect and admiration for the A&S faculty and staff. I wish you great success in all future endeavors.

Best,
Erec

Erec R. Koch
Ruth and Harold Newman Dean
The School of Arts and Sciences
East Building, Room E812
Hunter College
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065



The following describes how I learned that Koch had integrity and deserved respect and was serious about the welfare of students and other things academic. I especially liked how he upset my D:F/M Colleagues when one of his emissaries made clear at a department meeting that the department was in deep shit (though the emissary didn’t use the word shit). D:F/M wasn’t to receive funding that had been previously promised. D:F/M wouldn’t be participating in any of the ongoing conversations (then) about media curriculum. That is, a number of Hunter departments were working on plans to try to introduce media curriculum into their majors because D:F/M had dropped the ball. It was suppose to be the reservoir for media curriculum at the College.

The Chair, Jay Roman, revealed that the College took back the line because of the retirement of Arnold Gibbons about a year ago. It was a slap in the face as well as a followup to a threat to remove lines if the Department did not come around to the Administration’s way of thinking about who should be department chair. More about this later.

There was the possibility, the Chair said, that D:F/M could lose another line, this one in the journalism concentration because of the retirement of Peter Parisi in January. QMfE: “We are going to have to write a really good reason on why the department should retain the line.” The department this academic year was responsible for killing off the best undergraduate IT network at the City University of New York. The Chair has a reputation for siccing Hunter Security (I refer to Hunter Security as Hunter-5-0) on staff members. D: F/M has a reputation for screwing up a Ford Foundation grant.

D:F/M, Colleague Larry Shore said at a faculty meeting a while back, has a really bad image in the College. Etcetera.

D:F/M Colleagues.

D:F/M Colleagues.

Dean Koch and I crossed swords, so to speak, more than a year ago when President Jennifer Raab sicced him on me after Hunter alumna Vanessa Casavant, one of my former students, complained to Raab that I had “dissed” her on my facebook page. Casavant was caught engaging in deceit and making moronic statements on the WORD facebook page, such as, the WORD online should be boycotted, and my “dis” was brutally honest and she was also blocked forever from the page. She retaliated by contacting Raab and moaning about being treated disrespectfully.

Vanessa Casavant

Vanessa Casavant

Yahoo news and a few other news mills published a story about her “dissing” and those accounts were chucked full of inaccuracies. I sent emails to Yahoo’s writer and to one of the news mills about the inaccuracies and deceits. More about that later.

Dean Koch sent me a nasty letter accusing me of being cruel to an Hunter alumna and his letter included threats about him contacting Hunter Legal to have me investigated. I replied with a certified “bring it on” letter (Certified 7011 1150 0000 3685 9265) trumping his threats and telling him that he had been snookered by a former student who dabbled in the evil art of snookering.

Casavant’s propensity for self-aggrandizing when she was an undergraduate was tolerated as an eccentricity. That is, she wasn’t savvy enough to mislead this instructor and her particular peccadillos didn’t seem to cause any harm and didn’t violate any academic principles and, at the time, wasn’t too far from what other eccentric students were doing. At the time I first met her, she identified herself as an actress. Hunter has a lot of actresses and struggling actresses so I didn’t give her accounting of herself much thought at the time. Later, I learned she was more a diva-wannabe than actress or struggling actress.  More about this later.

I don’t know if the Koch ever told Prez Raab that she had been snookered and I doubt that Raab would care one way or the other if Casavant was a fibber.

My Colleagues believed Koch was targeting D:F/M because of all its felonious foibles and I thought he was serious about the welfare of students and other academic matters.

Note: The head of Hunter Legal is turning in her resignation. That’s three administrators in a short period of time. Also: Koch did not say if he was staying or leaving. Administrators have been known to have contractual protections (not golden parachutes but in that mindset) that specify what happens to them if they are forced to resign. Some go back to teaching.

More to come later. Especially Maria Anderson’s resignation letter.

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