Dean Pendakur sued

NEWS

A Jewish professor of philosophy is suing the dean of the College of Arts and Letters for anti-Semitism, ageism and fraud.

Carol Gould, Ph.D., is suing Dean Manjunath Pendakur for some of his actions and words in the last two years. The half-dozen charges include Pendakur insinuating that all Jewish donors to FAU hate Arabs and promoting his friends to power positions within the college.

When asked about the lawsuit, FAU spokesperson Kristine Gobbo wrote by e-mail, “The university does not comment on matters associated with open litigation.”

Gould, a tenured professor, said that her salary in the philosophy department — $73,000, compared to the $108,000 average — is a result of her age and religion. She is seeking compensation for both her financial losses due to discrimination, and her “emotional anguish” over a remark that Pendakur made during a faculty meeting.

According to Marc Reiner, Gould’s attorney, Pendakur might try to use Gould’s lawsuit as fuel to get rid of the entire philosophy department.

“For them to dissolve the department, they would need to fabricate excuses,” Reiner said.

Reiner went on to say that Pendakur started a rumor that the philosophy professors themselves want it to be dissolved, which he believes is a lie that resulting from the lawsuit.

“The faculty stated very clearly that they wanted to stay together,” Reiner said. “This whole idea of them wanting to dissolve is a new fabrication that’s only been stated after the lawsuit was filed.”

Gould said that, actually, the “faculty was very upset with the idea of there not being a philosophy department.”

Reiner noted that the university had not talked to him as of press time, though the lawsuit was filed a week earlier, after being given the green light by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal program that enforces discrimination laws.

Jari Niemi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of philosophy, is waiting on a notice of right to sue from the EEOC, at which point he also plans on suing FAU, with Reiner, for his recent contract termination, meaning that he will no longer teach at FAU after spring.

Gould said that her current salary and treatment from the department head is not consistent with her work so far.

“I was promoted very quickly from associate to full [professor],” she said of her 1999 appointment. “I’ve been producing every year ever since, every single year.”

Gould is responsible for the FAU Judaic Studies bachelor’s degree, a program that she said she started.

Further, Gould is alleging that Pendakur is involved in racketeering.

According to the lawsuit, Marina Banchetti, Ph.D., who was on the search committee that selected Pendakur to dean in 2008, was promoted to an assistant dean six months into Pendakur’s term.

To replace Banchetti, who was chair of the department before her promotion to assistant dean, Pendakur needed a new chair. He chose Clevis Headley, Ph.D., who happens to be Banchetti’s husband.

Gould had applied for the chair position and believes that she was overlooked for several reasons, one of them being the personal relationship between Pendakur, Banchetti and Headley.

Lastly, Gould was offended by a remark that Pendakur made during a faculty meeting about Jewish donors to the university and how they might be sensitive about Arabic donors.

“He’s very big on Jewish money. He was articulating a stereotype,” she said, “and I told him, ‘Manju, not all Jews are rich, not all rich Jews hate Arabs, and not all Jews hate Arabs.'”