The Cleveland area has been the scene of an appalling sequence of crimes recently. We had one case of a serial killer Anthony Sowell who preyed on poor women, raping and killing them and burying them on the premises. Then we had the case of Ariel Castro who kidnapped and held captive three women for about a decade, fathering a child with one. Now we have another person accused of being a serial killer too.
Then in the last week, we had a trio of reports that, while they did not have the horrific aspects of those three cases, have damaged the image of leading cultural institutions in the city.
First we had the abrupt resignation of David Franklin, the head of the Cleveland Museum of Art that is one of the premier art museums in the nation. It was revealed that he had been having an affair with a former staffer at the museum who had committed suicide in April of this year. It was he who had found the body and reported it to police but the news came to light just a couple of weeks ago.
(On a side note that shows the danger of local media monopolies, the Plain Dealer was scooped on the story by a local alternative weekly the Cleveland Scene which accused the PD of sitting on the news because its publisher is also on the Board of Trustees of the museum. The details are still murky as to what exactly happened on the night of the woman’s death and more puzzling details are emerging, both in Scene and in the PD.)
Meanwhile within the space of one week, the deans of the two law schools in the city, one at Case Western Reserve University (where I work) and Cleveland State University, which is a few miles down the road, have been accused of abusing their power.
At CWRU a professor who was also an associate dean has filed a lawsuit that accuses the dean of retaliating against him because he reported him for sexual harassment against female faculty members, administrators, and students after he observed some of his behavior and heard about others from the victims. The lawsuit also charges the university for backing the dean and not doing anything to stop the retaliation. An addition to the original court filing says that another law school administrator has come forward saying that he too suffered retribution for making harassment allegations against the dean.
At CSU, the law school dean is accused of retaliating against those professor who were part of a labor bargaining unit by giving them raises of either $0 or $666 (the satanic number representing the Mark of the Beast in the Book of Revelation in the Bible), which was an order of magnitude less than the raises given to the other faculty. They have filed a complaint against the State Employment Relations Board.
Irrespective of whether these last two allegations turn out to have merit or not, I see them as evidence of a disturbing corporatizing trend in universities where senior administrators who were once thought to be colleagues of the faculty and merely the first among equals, now see themselves more as corporate executives and CEOs, viewing faculty and staff as subordinates, and seem to behave accordingly and expect the same kinds of salaries and perks.
Cleveland is a nice place and we enjoy living here. But all these stories are undoubtedly giving it a serious black eye.