Dean: Prof called me a 'gay leprechaun'
College of Social Work dean, professor let it rip in lawsuit
Published: Monday, April 13, 2009
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 22:06
Nasty bickering between William Meezan, dean of the College of Social Work, and professor Rudolph Alexander has been going on for four years, and there's no end in sight.
Meezan alleged in a May 2008 deposition that Alexander referred to him as a "gay leprechaun" to one of his classes and falsely accused him of having AIDS. Meezan testified that he is gay.
Alexander, an African-American, testified in a February 2009 deposition that Meezan is a racist who discriminated against and bullied minority faculty members, and called him "a street fighter from New York."
Alexander has sued Ohio State, specifically Meezan and Vice President of Human Resources Lawrence Lewellen. He also previously filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He alleges he was discriminated against on the basis of race and that public documents he requested were destroyed.
To say Alexander and Meezan have issues with each other would be an understatement. In an e-mail to an OSU attorney and an OSU Human Resources representative, Alexander sums up his feelings regarding the lawsuit and Meezan.
"In effect, it's going to take a seven-figure settlement to get me to drop this case. I will likely retire immediately, leave Ohio State and move back to Texas. At this point I'm totally disgusted. Every time I see Meezan, I want to punch him in the face. And this is putting it mildly."
The tensions began almost as soon as Meezan started as dean in July 2005. Alexander alleges that Meezan suggested having a ceremony in which students would sign a pledge that they accepted homosexuality. Alexander says he expressed concern with the idea, while Meezan says the pledge was designed simply to require students to uphold the code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. But both concede that the relationship only went down hill from there.
The bickering reached a boiling point when it came time for Meezan to calculate "ratings" that would dictate faculty's pay raises for that year. The eventual calculations resulted in Alexander receiving only a 1.5 percent pay increase in 2006.
"That 1.5 was the lowest raise given to the faculty in 2006. And to me it was meant to be personal. It was meant to be humiliating. And I considered it to be racist," Alexander said in his deposition.
A main point of contention between the two is whether Alexander should be given credit on that year's evaluation for a book he wrote in a previous year.
"He gave three white faculty, Keith Kilty, Virginia Richardson and Gil Greene, Moyee Lee who is Asian - he gave those four people credit for books after the books were published. He did not give me credit for my book in the same manner. And that caused me to get a lower evaluation in this area than what the white faculty received," Alexander said in his deposition.
During his deposition, Meezan listed reasons beyond the book issue that contributed to the evaluation.
"The lack of progress on both the minor and honors program, … the fact that he was not seeing me on a regular basis, the fact that he wasn't holding staff meetings with his staff, the fact that his [graduate administrative associates] were basically unsupervised, … the fact that I believe I heard from numerous students that there was unavailability of staff to service them … I guess that's a long enough litany," Meezan said.
But Alexander doesn't accept that explanation. He said the following in an e-mail that demanded an investigation into the rating he received from Meezan.
"I have a right to know how Meezan came up with a rating of 4.5. And I should not have to undergo this to find out. I don't intend to beg, plead or, forgive my crudeness, kiss Meezan's ass to find out," he wrote.
In September 2006, a survey from the Department of Human Resources that was circulated in the College of Social Work asked faculty and staff about various issues, including their approval or disapproval of the dean. Alexander says he twice requested the data from this survey, but was given insufficient information both times. He wanted the individual responses, but insists he was only given averages. Additionally, he said that the written responses were separate from the bubble-in answers, making it impossible to correlate the two.
He accused Lewellen, Meezan and possibly others of either destroying or withholding the data.
However, in court, OSU's lawyer, Jack Decker, pointed out that by correctly using the spreadsheet, one could see individual responses and accurately match them with their corresponding written response.
While Alexander admitted he "doesn't use Excel that often," he still wasn't satisfied with what he was given in court. He claims that the document he was originally sent in 2006 included fewer responses, and that responses may have been altered.
"I have subsequently learned that there was discussion among Dean Meezan, Nancy Messerly and I believe Larry Lewellen about formatting the information before giving it to me," Alexander said in court.
"[The responses] are relevant to the sense that we have a number of people in our college that are intimidated by the dean and intimidated by Ohio State."
As the case remains ongoing in federal court, University spokesman Jim Lynch says the university continues to stand behind Meezan.
"We look forward to getting this issue resolved," he said. "We never enjoy it when a member of the Buckeye family files a lawsuit against the university they work for, but we support the actions of the dean."
Both Meezan and Alexander remain as faculty within the College of Social Work.
Richard Oviatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.