UVM Econ Dept Chair’s False Claims Exposed

The Chair claimed that the biggest concern faculty had about the Grievant’s teaching had contributed to the faculty having run “out of patience” and were thus “not willing to let him continue” (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 43:58-44:27; UVM Exhibit 51). But it has no factual support. Plus, the Chair acknowledges that this biggest concern was not a concern noted in the Grievant’s 2012 reappointment review and that the Grievant was never informed by the Chair about this concern prior to his negative reappointment vote (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 42:05-43:38; UVM Exhibit 6, Grievant Exhibit 9)

Whatever the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) decides related to my grievance for wrongful denial of reappointment by UVM and its administrators, the following facts (taken from my 100 proposed findings of facts submitted to the VLRB in my final legal brief), will always stand as proof of false claims used against me by UVM. Is this a “procedural violation”? Is this a violation of reappointment procedures? The VLRB must decide this. Regardless, the facts are what they are and I have them in HD video being edited into a film doc for completion later this year. The numbered sequence below contains the factual record established by me (the Grievant) through a number of tactics — public records requests (before UVM lawyered-up), deposing the Chair under oath, examining hostile witnesses under oath called by me to the two-day hearing (some of the most motivated UVM econ faculty who did not want me to get reappointed: Marc Law, Donna-Ramirez Harrington, Sara Solnick), and clever use of impeachment documents during cross examination.

The biggest concern is proven false – no factual basis for Chair claims 

The “biggest” (and “serious”) concern stated by the Chair, Sara Solnick, in emails to other faculty and in official statements to the Dean (aimed at getting both faculty and the Dean to deny my reappointment) was related to teaching the standard economics model. She described this concern as follows::

“We appreciate that Summa includes critiques of the standard neoclassical model in his teaching. Faculty in our department often strive to emphasize where the standard model falls short as well as where it is successful in reflecting and predicting behavior. However, the model must be presented fully and fairly before its limitations are examined.” (emphasis added)

Did I present the model unfairly and not fully? Is it true that I criticized the standard model before presenting it? These claims are proven false, as you can see for yourself by reading the factual sequence below. The factual record I have established does not support this key claim against me, the one that the Chair admits led to my ouster. Again,  the Chair used it to influence other faculty members to vote against me, and to convince the Dean to deny my reappointment. Let the facts speak for themselves.  See the following selection of my 100 proposed findings of facts #38 thru #58 for proof. Not mentioned in the facts below but included in my related arguments and conclusions of law based on these and other facts, is the logical argument that I could not have criticized the standard trade model first, before presenting it! Why? The peer who visited the standard model class presentation, Donna Ramirez-Harrington, acknowledged under oath that I presented the model before criticizing it  — the exact opposite of what the Chair claimed (and what the Dean cited to deny me reappointment). And the peer was forced to admit that I presented the model content, merits and key conclusions in a way she described in her testimony as required to teach it fully and fairly! Yep! I even submitted into evidence her own textbook diagrams that were identical to my own regarding presentation of the fundamentals of the model and its merits!

In one other class visited by a peer (the only other peer the Chair cited as a source for her “biggest” concern), Marc Law, a right-wing libertarian who is a senior fellow at the climate-change denying, fossil-fuel industry funded Fraser Institute “think” tank, who visited my seminar  about the subprime lending crisis, stated under oath that no models or criticism of models were even presented! Why not?  Because the class he visited was intentionally designed, as he acknowledged,  to explore empirically the issue of sub-prime lending through a look at an affidavit I wrote in a legal case related to Wells Fargo, one of the top subprime lenders (who Marc Law said I shouldn’t be criticizing). Thus, the Chair’s only other source for her claim is a peer who admitted the class he visited did not even address any models at all!

If Marc Law and Donna Ramirez-Harrington were the only two sources the Chair could point to in support of her claim when I examined her under oath about her “serious” and “biggest” concern, then it is quite clear that the claim is false and she used this false claim against me. ~JS


The proposed facts do not support the biggest concern used to kick me out of UVM

38. The serious concern identified by the Chair was acknowledged to be the biggest content concern the faculty had when voting on the Grievant’s reappointment. Asked about the source for that concern, the Chair indicated that Dr. Ramirez-Harrington’s observations of EC 143 and Dr. Marc Law’s observations of EC220 were the only sources for this concern. She also indicated that the class she (the Chair) visited was one that covered non-standard model presentations and critiques, not standard models. (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 29:18-29:23; Solnick testimony, 20180214-1520 at 19:57-27:31 and at  36:55-38:31;Solnick testimony, 20180214-1520 at 27:35-29:52)

39. The Chair stated that the biggest concern faculty had about the Grievant’s teaching had contributed to the faculty having run “out of patience” and were thus “not willing to let him continue” (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 43:58-44:27; UVM Exhibit 51)

40. The Chair acknowledges that this biggest concern was not a concern noted in the Grievant’s 2012 reappointment review and that the Grievant was never informed by the Chair about this concern prior to his negative reappointment vote (Solnick testimony, 20180214-0912 at 42:05-43:38; UVM Exhibit 6, Grievant Exhibit 9)

41. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington explained what was required to teach the standard trade model “fully and fairly”. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 22:12-24:04)

42. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington was unable to explain how the Grievant was not teaching the standard model fully and fairly. In the class that she visited, it was acknowledged that the Grievant was teaching the exact same concepts Dr. Ramirez- Harrington teaches in her EC40 course on International trade. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 10:20 -13:06; 20:12-20:34; Grievant Exhibit 6)

43. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington acknowledged that the Grievant presented slides containing the same [diagrams and] merits and conclusions about the standard trade model that she also presents. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 22:12-24:04; Grievant Exhibit 6)

44. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington acknowledged that the Grievant assigned homework aimed at applying the standard model to hypothetical data to demonstrate the merits of the model, and conclusions about the benefits of free trade predicted by the model, including a last slide containing the changes to producer and consumer surplus (winners and losers), which she identified as necessary concepts for teaching the standard model fully and fairly. She then was unable to explain the material basis for the Chair’s concern about the Grievant not teaching the standard trade model fully and fairly, except to say the Grievant did not explain these concepts well in her opinion. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 24:04-43:01)

45. Of the 10 slides used by the Grievant, and reviewed by Dr. Ramirez-Harrington [who claimed these slides were “text-heavy” in her peer letter sent to the Chair and Dean], only two [of these] slides had any body text [8 were simply model-related diagrams]. The last slide contained the following bulleted text lines, with 4 words in each of the first four lines, followed by a longer line explaining how net welfare gains are calculated:

  • Heartland producers gain surplus (+)
  • Heartland consumers lose surplus (-)
  • Orient producers lose surplus (-)
  • Orient consumes gain surplus (+)
  • Worldwide, net welfare gains from trade in corn are the sum of the net gains in Heartland and in Orient.(Grievant Exhibit 10)

46. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington indicated that the last slide in the slide set used by the Grievant in the class she visited was “text-heavy”, a concern she wrote in her peer letter that the Chair cited to the Dean. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 28:43-30:56)

47. The Dean wrote the following in denying the Grievant’s reappointment: “concerns were raised [by faculty] about text-heavy slides…” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000132)

48. During testimony under oath, Dr. Ramirez-Harrington acknowledged that the last slide’s text contained the changes to producer and consumer surplus needed to show the merits of the model and its main take away point of “net welfare gains from free trade”. (Harrington-Ramirez testimony, 20180215-0905 at 38:05-43:01)

49. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged being aware prior to visiting the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis seminar that there were no Grievant plans to present any theory or standard models in the class he visited pursuant to the class design. Separately, in his peer letter, he criticized the lack of any theoretical content. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031at 1:45-11:17; UVM Exhibit 31)

50. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis he visited was designed as a mock courtroom exercise to empirically explore controversy surrounding subprime lending. The students were asked to read and prepare to debate a related affidavit written by the Grievant as an economic consultant. He also acknowledged that this part of the seminar was designed to explore the financial crisis through a mix of materials at an empirical level, and that theory and models would not be covered until later in the semester. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031at 1:45-11:17)

51. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that no model was presented in the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis seminar and that theory and models were to be covered (pursuant to the syllabus he acknowledged reading) later in the semester, through use of academic, peer-reviewed literature. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031 at 1:45-11:17)

52. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that no model was presented in the Grievant’s EC220 seminar class on the Global Financial Crisis seminar and that theory and models were never planned for presentation in the class he visited, and instead would be covered (pursuant the syllabus he acknowledged reading) later in the semester. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-2031 at 1:45-11:17)

53. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law was unable to explain how the Department faculty’s “serious” and biggest concern that the Chair noted in her statement to the Dean (concerns about the Grievant’s not teaching the standard model fully and fairly) could originate in the class he visited given that there were no models presented of any kind, and that there was never any intention to do so by the Grievant. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031 at 1:45-11:17)

54. The Dean wrote the following in his evaluation of the Grievant’s teaching: “concerns were raised [by faculty] about …over reliance on non-academic reading materials.” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000132)

55. During testimony under oath, Dr. Marc Law acknowledged that academic materials were required pursuant to the Grievant’s syllabus and were required to be researched and read, and that a minimum of six peer-reviewed academic articles were needed for student term papers. He acknowledged also that there are no guidelines in the Department of Economics for what percentage of academic material is required or when it should be introduced into a seminar class. (Marc Law testimony, 20180215-1031 at 1:45-11:17; Grievant Exhibit 75)

56. In an email summarizing Grievant concerns to another faculty member, dated October 21, 2016, the Chair states the following: “It is clear that we expect the standard model to be presented fully and fairly.” (UVM Exhibit 51)

57. The Chair states later in the same email cited above in paragraph 56 that faculty in the department have “even worse” student evaluations than the Grievant (after stating the Grievant’s are “acceptable”), adding that these poorer-rated faculty “are not considered a problem because they have good peer observations and are teaching good economics.” (UVM Exhibit 51)

58. Following the vote by the faculty of the Department of Economics, the Faculty Standards Committee voted five (5) in favor of the Grievant’s reappointment with zero (0) against reappointment, noting that the Grievant had “met the standard for reappointment based on his record of teaching a wide range of courses, including developing curricula for the Honors College, and from the satisfactory student evaluations scores he has received.” (UVM Exhibit 45, p. 000132)