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ERIC Number: EJ847393
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun-12
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
In Researcher's Background, Some Warning Signs
Glenn, David
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n39 pA11 Jun 2009
When Robert D. Felner applied to become dean of education at the University of Louisville in 2003, he carried a genuinely impressive vita. But two of the most recent large grants listed on that vita could not have survived close scrutiny--and it isn't clear that Louisville's search committee scrutinized them at all. First, the impressive part: After dropping out of high school in the mid-1960s, Mr. Felner managed to be admitted to the University of Connecticut, where he graduated in 1972. Five years later he earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of Rochester and landed a faculty position at Yale University. At Yale in the late 1970s, Mr. Felner published a series of papers, a few of which are still cited, about how divorce, parental death, and other family traumas affect children's behavior at school. In 1985 he was hired at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he shifted his focus from youth delinquency and suicide to broader questions of education reform. While at Illinois, Mr. Felner developed a project he called the High Performance Learning Community Assessments, a school-level survey in which students, teachers, and parents are asked about instructional practices, school climate, and barriers to learning. In 1996, Mr. Felner brought the survey to his new position as director of the University of Rhode Island's School of Education. There he created the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, a research unit that won a multimillion-dollar contract to conduct surveys on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Education. All of that must have impressed Louisville's search committee in 2003. If Louisville had scratched the surface of that vita, however, Mr. Felner might not have looked like such a solid bet. At Rhode Island in the late 1990s, Mr. Felner served as principal investigator on three awards from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. But, as the "Kenosha News" first reported last year, Mr. Felner never submitted final financial reports on two of those grants, which totaled almost $1.5-million. According to George Soule, the Carnegie Corporation's manager of strategic communications, the foundation pressed for those reports in 2000 and again in 2001. When no reports were submitted, the foundation determined that it would no longer make awards to the University of Rhode Island, a ban that is still in place. Michael A. Baer, a vice president of Isaacson, Miller, a consultancy that helps academic and nonprofit organizations hire executives, cautions that even careful search committees cannot always catch clever and determined malefactors. "There are things out there that are not on public records," Mr. Baer says. "There are things that are happening that only the person who is executing them knows about. That's the thing that is scary about making a hire."
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; Rhode Island