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Kean University Should Quit Costly Legal Attacks and Fix Failing Department

Beleaguered president of New Jersey public college would rather waste taxpayers’ money fighting accreditors than working with them to clean up his mess

UNION, N.J.—Kean Federation of Teachers President James Castiglione, AFT New Jersey President Donna M. Chiera and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statements after embattled Kean University President Dawood Farahi threatened to sue evaluators that de-accredited his master’s program in public affairs:

The KFT’s Castiglione said: “Instead of wasting money on legal challenges, Kean University management should address glaring deficiencies by hiring full-time faculty and staff to teach, counsel and eventually help public administration students find employment. Our departments depend on external accreditation within our respective fields to validate that appropriate resources are available so students have what they need to succeed.

“The accreditation process is not typically antagonistic, and threatening legal action instead of taking findings of deficiencies seriously is a counterproductive action. Even faculty in other academic programs with external accreditation will be rightly alarmed about how their accrediting agencies might perceive their programs in light of this ill-conceived action by Kean management.

“This is not how a world-class institution responds to qualified peer review. The university should now focus on doing everything in its power to assist our students being so adversely affected by this loss of accreditation and provide needed resources to all academic departments to ensure that this never happens again to any other department at Kean.”

The AFTNJ’s Chiera said: “New Jersey’s elected legislators and the secretary of higher education should call on Kean management to stop saber-rattling and do their jobs by fixing the systemic problem apparent in the public administration department—they are employing too many managers and too few faculty and counselors who actually work with students.

“If legal action commences, the unaccountable management at Kean would be making yet another in a series of well-publicized mistakes that illustrate a loss of focus on student success and academics. New Jersey should be able to rely on Kean University to cultivate another generation of well-educated public servants in the public administration program. Instead, we are being shortchanged. Our students, families and communities deserve better.”

The AFT’s Weingarten said: “How many times can we say I told you so? How many careers and opportunities for a job or career will be denied because the Kean trustees turn a blind eye to Farahi’s corruption, cronyism, bullying and incompetence?

“Rather than work to fix his failing programs, Dawood Farahi prefers to waste public money fighting the accreditors who called him out. Every time he goes to war, Farahi dupes a new generation of students who want to make a difference but instead have their lives derailed, the victims of a slow-motion disaster of their president’s own making. Kean’s MPA students’ dreams of serving the public are now fading away, while university management attacks the symptoms, rather than the causes, of dysfunction.

“Farahi’s disastrous 16-year reign has been ruinous by almost every measure. Multiple programs, in addition to the MPA, have lost their accreditation, and compared with peer institutions, Kean has the lowest graduation rates and the most students in debt. Whole athletics teams have been placed on probation. Instead of taking up arms, Farahi should look in the mirror. And when he comes to his senses, he should quit.”