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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rats Are Scrambling Overboard on the Good Ship UAB

For the second time in the past eight months or so, a key character in my wrongful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has left the institution for what appears to be a lesser job.

The latest to jump ship is Gary Mans, who was director of public relations at UAB. Mans recently joined the communications staff at the University of Louisville, where he is director of the Health Sciences Center communications and marketing.

In late 2008, Director of Human Resources Cheryl E.H. Locke left UAB to take a job at Wake Forest University.

The jump to Louisville is a curious move for Mans to make. At UAB, he was in charge of campuswide public relations, on both the medical and non-medical sides of campus. His duties at Louisville cover only the medical side, so his responsibilities appear to have been cut in half.

Interestingly, Locke took a similar cut in responsibilities when she went to Wake Forest. She was head of the entire HR function at UAB, while she is based only in the medical center at Wake Forest.

Louisville seems to be a fine school, but its reputation in biomedical research does not match UAB's. In one of the most recent rankings of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UAB ranked No. 23 and Louisville was No. 78.

Mans' title at Louisville does appear to include more marketing responsibilities than he had at UAB, and he might have found that attractive. It would be interesting to know how the two salaries compare. On the surface, it looks like a lateral move, at best.

To my knowledge, Mans played only a peripheral role in my termination. After Lindsay Beyerstein's investigative piece about my firing came out at Raw Story, a number of citizens contacted UAB President Carol Garrison to express concern about the situation. A number of them received the following response from Mans, in Garrison's name:

President Garrison asked that I respond to you. Contrary to Mr. Shuler's statements, his termination had nothing to do with politics or any conspiracy, and the university has not been contacted by any public official or representative of such about this matter. Mr. Shuler was dismissed based solely on his work performance. Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot comment further.

Garrison and Mans probably did not intend for this statement to be comical, but note that it is absurd on its face. They say they can't comment on a personnel matter--after they have just spent three sentences commenting on a personnel matter. As Keith Olbermann would say, "WTF."

Mans went on to post pretty much the same comment, under his own name, when the Chronicle of Higher Education picked up on the story. You can check out Mans' handiwork here. His comment is No. 16. The commenter at No. 17 promptly ripped Mans a new one, stating:

Mr. Mans:

I am disappointed in the level of creativity of the UAB administration. You can simply post anonymously and say you obtained the information from a “very good source”.

Guess we will just have to wait for the lawsuit to bring things to the public. Sigh.

The Garrison/Mans response shows that they have no problem making false and defamatory statements--and showing their own cluelessness in the process. The claim that I was "dismissed based solely on [my] work performance" came after UAB's own employee grievance committee determined that I should not have been terminated at all.

As we reported last July, the grievance committee--UAB's own grievance committee--found that I was wrongfully terminated. We even presented the following written statement from Cheryl E.H. Locke, UAB's director of human resources: "The committee recommended that you be reinstated." Despite the recommendation of its own committee, UAB upheld my termination.

So Gary Mans says I was fired solely based on work performance. But UAB's own grievance committee found my work performance was such that I should not have been fired at all. I'm sure university spokespeople have made some ignorant public statements over the years. But Mans' blunder would have to make the top 10 of any all-time list.

I guess the University of Louisville finds such cluelessness and deceitfulness attractive in an employee.

I don't know why Gary Mans left UAB for what appears to be a lateral move, at best. But I do know that as director of UAB's PR function, he was privy to a lot of inside information about the university's activities--both good and bad.

It's possible that Mans' move was strictly about career considerations. Perhaps he saw that he could go no higher at UAB and needed to make a move.

It's also possible that Mans saw trouble on the horizon at UAB. Did he figure that Carol Garrison's days as UAB president are numbered, which might lead to a shakeup in Public Relations and Marketing. That kind of shakeup might not have been good for Mans, but it would be good news for people who care about UAB. For people who want UAB to be run with integrity and effectiveness, Garrison's exit cannot come soon enough.

Perhaps Mans saw other trouble brewing at UAB. For example, the university recently cut jobs in its health system. And with a new administration in charge of the U.S. Justice Department, someone might want to revisit the massive research fraud that has been going on at UAB for at least 10 years.

Maybe Mans decided he didn't want to be the guy who has to answer questions about a university that is laying off employees and cheating the federal government.

Maybe Mans even developed a conscience and decided he didn't like being forced to make public statements that he knows are false and defamatory about someone who has been cheated out of his job.

If that's the case, Mans probably made a good move by "getting out of Dodge."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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"The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus . . . that tells us the Earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity," Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a House committee. She said that the e-mails don't cover data from NOAA and NASA, whose independent climate records show dramatic warming.