The Louisville Cardinal

Students react to investigation into former dean

By

The University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development has garnered a lot of attention lately, but it’s not the latest U.S. News & World Report’s rankings people are talking about.

Former Dean Robert Felner is under investigation for misuse of grant money, specifically a $694,000 No Child Left Behind grant, secured in 2005. On June 20, armed federal agents loaded boxes and computers from the dean’s office at CED into black SUVs.

Earlier this year, Dean Felner resigned from the university, and was prepared to take a position as chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He has since withdrawn from that position, although he has not been indicted for any wrongdoing.

In a letter to faculty dated August 22, President James Ramsey heralds the accomplishments of the CEHD under Felner’s tenure. 

“In light of these accomplishments, we believed early concerns about the Dean’s leadership style stemmed from the rapid change and heavy demands he had placed on his faculty.”

In the letter to faculty members, Ramsey mentions that there were four grievances filed against Felner, and a 2006 no-confidence vote taken by the CEHD faculty against Felner.  Felner failed the vote 27 to 24.

A call to Felner’s attorney went unreturned.

However, Ramsey notes, “Many members of the faculty did not vote, and a large number of faculty visited the Provost afterward to say that they supported the dean.”

An August 8 story in the Courier-Journal reported that Felner never filed required financial disclosure forms. This malfeasance went unnoticed, however, possibly because Felner was responsible for its enforcement.

Amber Horne, senior political science major said, “I think they could have definitely prevented a lot of the things that he did. But, I think the university puts a little too much trust in their deans.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Blake Haselton has taken over as interim-dean for CEHD, and some students are left with a sense of disillusionment.

“It’s sad that these are the educators we’re supposed to be modeling ourselves after,” Michelle Eaton, a junior middle school education major said.