Defend and Protect Academic Whistleblowers

 
My husband reported scientific fraud and unknowingly sacrificed his career, reputation and marketability. The person who committed the fraud received full free of charge protection. He is still gainfully employed while my husband lost his job and all hope for a new job. He died this past winter as a result of the stress caused by fighting for his career and his family.

Defend and Protect academic whistle blowers

Two university presidents, three medical school deans, five department chairs and one
chief legal counsel consecutively hid the truth from the people of my state.

As Director of a microscopy imaging center at a public university, my husband reported
fraud he discovered in the laboratory of a Professor who also served as Vice
President for Research. Two independent investigative committees confirmed the fraud. The professor who committed it evaded responsibility by blaming the fraud on a junior associate. Removed as Vice President for this insurrection, university administration reappointed him Vice Dean in the medical school making him my husband’s part time supervisor. Immediately, he threatened my husband’s livelihood for reporting the fraud in the first place.

Soon after, my husband’s career trajectory mysteriously slowed. Criminals vandalized our home. Threatening letters alluding to the fraud arrived addressed to me. Though we reported the vandalism and letters to university administrators, they ignored us. To counter their inertia, we followed the advice of county police officers responding to our calls for help and filed a court complaint through lawyers we hired using our modest savings. The complaint morphed into a lawsuit that stopped the vandalism but destroyed us financially. We mortgaged our house a second time

University Administrators covered for this Professor not for his perceived intellectual contributions but because they had covered for his previous acts of sexual and scientific misconduct.. As my family struggled, they rewarded him with paid time off to become a pastor. University administration used their connections to win court hearing extensions that cost us, not them. My husband’s colleagues, all tenured professors abandoned him in fear of angering a vengeful administration. He accepted arduous teaching assignments and surrendered lab space and bridge funding (earmarked for his collaborator) to the department chair who in turn refused to support my husband’s new grant proposals.

At depositions, the attorney general representing the university defamed my husband. A university administrator tampered with evidence which we discovered but the attorney general and judges just ignored. After many expensive years, we settled in state court for only our legal fees and, later in federal court, for an extension of my husband’s contract. The university showed no respect for the settlements considered wins and terminated my husband’s employment just as we tried to recover. Forced out of a job he loved, my husband became both unemployed and unemployable. Just before he left, the university promoted him to full professor since he met all requirements as the independent Appointment, Promotion and Tenure committee determined. Unlike others of that year’s class however, his professorship came without tenure. Retaliation cost him his career and his way of life.

My secretarial salary helped us keep our house though we sacrificed the things that help make life enjoyable. The university could terminate my husband’s paycheck, they could not destroy his meticulous research, textbooks, inventions and the positive effect he had on his students. My husband who suffered both a heart attack and terminal cancer due to stress caused by injustice died on February 6th. University Deans, Presidents, Department Chairs, employed in perpetuity, continue to enjoy mobility and career success. To them, my husband’s life was as meaningless as their faculty code of ethics or the sanctity of the scientific data base belonging to humanity and supported by tax dollars.

e-mail:: Ann.Berrios@juno.com

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