How can an administrator do a wretched job at one university, only to get hired for a higher-ranking position at an arguably more prestigious institution?
As nutty as it sounds, that kind of thing happens all the time in higher education. The latest example might be a sign of positive change at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where I worked for 19 years before being cheated out of my job for writing (on my own time) a progressive blog.
Eli Capilouto, who has been UAB's provost for 10 years, is set to be named president of the University of Kentucky, according to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kentucky officials say they are getting a leader with "impeccable" credentials, who stood "head and shoulders" above other candidates. If that's the case, Kentucky must have had some awfully short candidates.
Capilouto, who has been declared the "sole finalist" for the position, is at UK today--and a final vote on his candidacy is expected tomorrow. Kentucky folks might think they've picked a winner, but Capilouto's exit will be a cause for celebration at UAB. More importantly, it might be a sign that UAB's current dysfunctional administration is starting to crumble. And that can't happen too soon.
Capilouto was named provost in 2001, not long after Carol Garrison left the University of Louisville to become UAB's president. Together, Garrison and Capilouto oversaw the darkest decade in UAB history, tarnishing the reputation of an institution that had been known as a rising star in higher education.
You could call Garrison and Capilouto the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney of UAB--and given their clear distaste for progressive thought. the shoe fits. Capilouto apparently played the role of Cheney to the hilt. One UAB faculty member has called him the "Prince of Darkness."
I never expected to hear that kind of stuff about Eli Capilouto. I worked with him on several publication projects when I was still employed at UAB and he was dean of the School of Public Health. I always found him to be a thoughtful fellow, with a low-key charm. But roughly a dozen UAB employees have told me that was mostly an act--and the real, ugly Eli Capilouto surfaced when he became provost.
According to documents in federal court, Capilouto played a prominent role in discrimination lawsuits filed by veteran faculty members Glenn Feldman and Rosalia Scripa. In the Feldman case, Capilouto led an effort to unlawfully fire a tenured faculty member. In the Scripa case, Capilouto was behind an effort to falsify data on a salary study for female faculty members at UAB.
Public documents in the Feldman and Scripa cases indicate that Capilouto has the ethics of a sewer rat.
Sources also tell us that Capilouto played a prominent role in the hiring of some horrific deans at UAB, including David Klock at the School of Business and Doreen Harper at the School of Nursing. When it comes to hiring deans, Garrison/Capilouto apparently do not care one whit about scholarship, academic integrity, ability to manage people, interact with students and alumni, etc. It's all about an alleged ability to bring in money, with any other consideration coming in a distant second. Garrison and Capilouto are the poster children for the rise of the "corporate university." Here's how we put in a previous post:
The UAB administration, under Garrison, seems to go out of its way to hire deans who allegedly bring in money but have little discernible management skills. Consider Doreen Harper, the current dean of the School of Nursing at UAB. When longtime dean Rachel Booth retired several years ago, UAB had any number of excellent candidates for the job already in the school. But it decided to go all the way to the University of Massachusetts Worcester to hire Harper, reportedly because she was adept at bringing in grant money. What kind of human-relations skills does Harper have? Numerous sources have told Legal Schnauzer that interacting with Harper is like trying to have tea with a wolverine.
I've received multiple complaints from the wolverine lobby since writing that paragraph. "Hey, quit comparing us to the deans UAB has been hiring," the lobbyists write. "Wolverinees might not be terribly pleasant, but we aren't nearly as nasty as a UAB dean." Point well taken.
Here, though, is the bigger point: Carol Garrison should have been fired nine years ago, roughly one year into her presidency, when her dalliance with corrupt University of Tennessee president John Shumaker became public knowledge. (By the way, we have much more on the seedy Shumaker/Garrison affair coming soon.) But she was allowed to stick around, mostly because the UA Board of Trustees already was facing a likely lawsuit from Garrison's predecessor, and went on to name Capilouto provost.
Garrison and Capilouto have been abject failures at UAB. But the fact Capilouto was looking for another job could be a sign of brighter days on Birmingham's Southside. It could mean that Capilouto knows Garrison's days are numbered, and he was not likely to be named her successor. Getting rid of Garrison and Capilouto are the first steps in a much-needed housecleaning at UAB.
How Capilouto managed to snag the Kentucky presidency is beyond me. But UK took a major problem off UAB's hands, and that's all that really matters here in SchnauzerWorld.
I've been receiving heavy blog traffic from Kentucky in recent days, probably from UK employees wanting the goods on their new president. They aren't likely to find any positive reports about Capilouto here. If UAB employees could sum up their feelings for UK folks, it probably would be this: "Good luck, suckers!"
If you are driving through Southside in the coming days and come upon a parade, it probably will be UAB employees celebrating the impending exit of Eli Capilouto. Let's hope Carol Garrison will be right behind him.