UCD appointments methods face criticism

 

The governing body of University College Dublin will today consider the embarrassing case of Mr Gary Santry, an American academic who falsified his qualifications to secure a senior post at the Smurfit Business School.

Historian Dr Ronan Fanning is expected to present a highly critical interim report to UCD's president, Dr Art Cosgrove, and governing body members today.

This is expected to highlight gaps in procedures for academic appointments. It is then up to Dr Cosgrove to decided if procedures need to be tightened in relation to checking CVs.

Dr Fanning will present the "fact-finding" report to the authority. A further report, detailing how procedures could be tightened, is expected to be furnished at a later date.

The other members of the inquiry team are Prof Joseph Mannion of the agriculture department and Ms Joyce Andrews, a member of the governing body.

Mr Santry's appointment was recommended by a high-powered four-member interview team. Two external experts also sat on the interview panel. It is not clear why his credentials were not checked by the college's personnel branch and/or the Smurfit Business School.

Mr Santry claimed to have an MBA from Notre Dame university and an MA and PhD from Southern Methodist University, Texas. However, UCD believes he did not receive these qualifications. He also won a teaching award from UCD recently.

The college seems divided about how it should deal with the issue. Some senior figures believe the Santry affair is a "one-off" which has few wider implications.

Others believe the college must be seen to act in a decisive manner as the strong reputation of the Smurfit school has been damaged.

Since the affair became public, Mr Santry has apologised to the college registrar, Dr Caroline Hussey, for the embarrassment caused to UCD. Shortly after this, he left for the US. His current whereabouts are unknown.

There has traditionally been rivalry between the arts and commerce faculties which has intensified in recent years with the growth of the Smurfit School of Business. The embarrassment caused by the Santry affair has deepened the rivalry.

The student union president, Mr Aonghus Hourihane, said students were looking for answers and wanted to be certain that lecturers had the qualifications they claimed to have. The affair had the potential to damage UCD, he added.