I received a comment from a certifiable dunderhead calling him/herself "Another Concerned Citizen." If this makes anyone wonder how a dunderhead becomes certified as such, the answer is that while there are many ways, one is to offer commentary on something you clearly have not read. That's just a dunderheaded thing to do and therefore a quick path to earning one's dunderhead bona fides. Here's what "Another Concerned Citizen" had to say in response to my criticism of Biff, his credentials, etc.:
"I don't know the guy. But if you're curious about why there wasn't a better candidate this post should provide a clue. It's easy to sit back and mock at the work that's being done without fully understanding what a Univeristy [sic] Presidents job actually entails."
Leaving the dunderheaded ambiguities of this statement aside, it seems obviously to have been intended as a barb of some sort, a little jab with the point of dunderhead's rhetorical stick, calling me to account for just not seeing the big picture. In that respect, I can only suggest that our dunderhead, precisely because she/he is so well-intentioned, sharpen the stick, or perhaps head for the (metaphorical) woods in search of a new one. More importantly, of course, she/he should actually read what is written in this blog before writing a single additional word of commentary. But having said that, I feel compelled to confess that I appreciate the offered comment (in all of its dunderheadedness) very much, because it provides an excellent introduction to a list of Biff's misdeeds. After all, if I've been "mocking at" anything it is at these misdeeds. And since, further, our dunderhead has implied that the misdeeds are, so to speak, all in a day's work for a university president, we can use the list to see clearly just what I have failed to "fully understand" in relation to a university president's job. So here we go. I remind the reader that what follows is all in the category of alleged and awaits the ultimate validation of a judge and jury.
Biff Williams, self-proclaimed champion of 'family values', is alleged to have done the following:
1. Fired Varlo on the basis of a reported classroom "assault" of a student without a pre-termination hearing of any sort and without Williams or any other administrator asking Varlo for his point of view of the incident. It is likely that at the time Williams took the decision, Bishop Don Reid had watched the surveillance video of the alleged incident, discovered that it did not support Cassidy Sorensen's account, and had informed Williams of such. (Reid later testified in St. George City Court, under oath and with a smirk on his face and his LDS temple recommend hot in his pocket, that there was no video of the incident because there never had been a surveillance camera in that particular classroom).
2. Because it was against policy for the President to initiate the termination, Williams instructed Bill Christensen to deliver the news to Varlo and to make it look like it was Christensen's decision.
2.a. - it is worth noting in this regard that Christensen and Jeff Jarvis soon realized the firing Varlo without a pre-termination hearing was also a violation of policy; therefore they conspired to state that Varlo had been suspended rather than fired. The fact remains that he was fired without anything resembling a hearing.
3. Williams hired the supposed victim of assault, Cassidy Sorensen, to work for him in his office, befriended her and promised her such things as his current prayers on her behalf and future letters of recommendation, all the while knowing he was to be the final judge with respect to Varlo's termination (needless to say, he saw the prospective Faculty Review Board (FRB) hearing as merely pro forma, as he already had fired Varlo clandestinely).
4. After the FRB had heard the case and voted unanimously for Varlo's reinstatement, Williams instructed Human Resource Director Will Craver to keep the findings of the hearing confidential, since he did not want word to get out that no evidence had been presented to support Varlo's termination.
5. Williams specifically instructed Craver not to provide Varlo with a copy of the FRB findings.
6. Since he knew that no evidence had been presented to justify terminating Varlo, in a blatantly egregious violation not just of policy but of fundamental fairness, Williams contacted Mark Houser requesting access to Houser's secret file of supposed complaints about Varlo.
7. Williams then used the false claims contained in Houser's secret file to justify Varlo's termination, all the while knowing that Varlo had never been given an opportunity not only to refute the false claims, but even to know of their existence.
8. Williams went against the FRB's recommendation to reinstate Varlo and fired him anyway without providing a reason. Later, of course, he would tell the press that "it had been going on for a long time" and other such statements betraying the fact that he had based his decision on (false) information obtained from Mark Houser.
9. After Varlo's termination was confirmed, Varlo wrote to Will Craver asking whether Williams had relied on information not presented to the FRB. Williams instructed Craver to have no further contact with Varlo.
10. After word got out that the FRB had recommended Varlo's reinstatement and as pressure mounted on Williams to account for himself, he met with Paul Morris and the two conspired on a plan to make Williams's actions seemed justified. First, they would leak false information to try to smear Varlo's reputation. Second, although they knew no crime had occurred, they would try to get a criminal charge filed based on the alleged classroom incident.
11. Williams instructed an apparently somewhat (at first) reluctant Bishop Reid to a file a criminal complaint with the prosecutor's office.
12. Williams then conspired with Reid to try to get the charge filed for felony child abuse, because this would destroy Varlo's reputation and be financially devastating to defend himself against. (Keep in mind, in this regard, that both Williams and Reid were fully aware that no crime had been committed, that there was no probable cause for a charge of any sort to be filed).
13. In order to feed the rumor mill, as he and Morris had planned, Williams then told Nate Staehli, Erin O'Brien, and Spencer Ricks, among others, that Varlo was being investigated for having an affair with a student, a fact he knew not to be true.
14. Williams lied in public forum when asked about his handling of the situation with Varlo, falsely claiming in response to a question, that he had met with Varlo "three times" prior to firing him. Of course he had never met with him, and neither had any other administrator, prior to his termination.
15. Williams falsely told numerous parties that he had relied only on evidence presented to the FRB in making his determination to fire Varlo.
16. Williams met with at least two reputable locals, Randy Wilkinson and Rod Savage, and persuaded them, on the basis of what can only have been false information about Varlo, to accompany him on a visit to County Attorney Brock Belnap's office, with the intention of persuading Belnap to file the child abuse charge.
15. Williams instructed the maintenance department to remove the video surveillance camera from the classroom where the alleged incident occurred and to cover up any and all indication that the camera had been there.
16. Williams also persuaded Christine Durham, Chair of DSU's Board of Trustees, to accompany him on another visit to Belnap's office in a continued effort to persuade Belnap to file the child abuse charge.
17. Once the criminal proceeding was under way, Williams conspired with other DSU personnel to attempt to avoid the requirements of a court issued subpoena and not turn over emails related to Varlo's termination. He did so, of course, because he knew the emails would reveal the very misdeeds described above.
18. In response to Varlo's trial, Williams wrote a press release filled with false statements in a last-ditch attempt to publicly justify his conduct.
19. Williams, apparently in order to blackball Varlo, and on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, instructed university personnel to notify prospective employers that Varlo had been fired by DSU for assaulting a student in class and for violent behavior toward students and faculty.
I think that's a pretty good list, for now. Perhaps "Another Concerned Citizen" will want to offer some further thoughts to explain how all of this fits in within the job description, i.e., within "what a university president's job actually entails." But it's rather hard to imagine a university, any university, really wanting as its leading figure someone capable of such unethical behavior, someone who demonstrates such a lack of anything resembling moral character. In any case, if this is all just part of the "work that's being done", then I think anyone would agree that, however easy it is to do, it is very justly "mocked at."