This is an
account of the sham investigation NU initiated
after I requested indemnification for the legal
threats Tillery made against me. See Part I
describing the non-investigation
of my accurate
report of Alvin Tillery's March
The Best Report Money Can Buy
In a Facebook post September 9,
Tillery triumphantly reveals a screenshot from Kathleen
Rinehart's Executive Summary of June 22, 2016 in which she writes,
"None of the
witnesses, other than Stevens, heard shouting or any form of verbal
abuse from Tillery toward Stevens..."
A Tillery FB friend posts, "Vindicated!"
Of course, Tillery neglects to mention the sworn
statement of an
September 8) which corroborates my account. In the Brand NU
World, facts matter little and subjective alleged or
actual feelings reign supreme, especially if they suit the
preferences of powerful administrators.
should anyone believe Rinehart, the well-paid, long-standing
confederate of the folks at NU who want me gone, and not the
former NU student, who was there, heard a male voice yelling, heard the
door slam, and swears that he
told this to Rinehart
and that he will testify to this in
fact, all Rinehart's incoherent report does is confirm that NU is
creating pretexts to ban me. Tillery is helping them. So are
few other people in my department. In Rinehart's account my
great sins were: 1) obstinately refusing to retract my (true)
statements about Tillery; and 2) my allegedly having caused
this and other unspecified acts: "the loss of a sense of safety" among
chronology picks up after Tillery's April 6, 2016 demand letter to me,
threatening legal action unless I retracted my accurate statement about
1. DEMAND LETTER,
April 6, 2016.
Tillery through his attorney, whose name is Mudd, sent me a demand letter
in which Tillery threatens to sue me unless I retract an
accurate report I made pursuant to NU policies.
aside that threatening to sue a colleague, along with
collaborating with the administration to have me banished, is hardly
"remain[ing] silent for the last six months about what was happening,"
as Tillery whines
to the Daily
why in April is he threatening me with legal action and not speaking
or seeking mediation? Nothing in our actual history comports
As I wrote in my March 8 email
to Monoson, I was "hopeful we could work this out."
Highlights of the April 6, 2016 demand letter include:
a) The observation that Tillery "immediately memorialized the
event to his supervisor."
is this memorialization? Northwestern's Faculty Handbook
prohibits suspensions without notifying the faculty member of "the
factual evidence supporting the charges," and a hearing before a
faculty committee in which the faculty member "will have the right to
cross-examine all witness."
b) The letter states, "Tillery learned you had filed a report
with his supervisor."
did he learn this? Why did someone, presumably his close
and Chair Sara Monoson, tell Tillery of my accurate report of his
misconduct, but not share with me even a summary of his account, ever?
And again, why didn't someone immediately contact the student for his
c) The letter also states, "Given the history of your prior
the same vague insinuations that I have a "history." The only
history that comes to mind is that in 2015 Monoson barked at
me when I was entering her open office to discuss an e-mail she'd
recently sent, ran up and slammed the door in my face, and
then concocted a story making me the villain. It worked.
Associate Chair, and the then-Chair, Edward Gibson, acted as though he
believed her, even though there was zero evidence to substantiate her
shocking and false claim and circumstantial evidence to discredit her
account, from which she walked away with me, privately, when
she invited me into her office shortly thereafter and explained her
behavior as based on feeling stressed by events that had
nothing to do with me.
(In what now appears to have turned into the trial balloon
the current episode, Gibson told me Monoson claimed I made her
"feel threatened" and no one corrected the record to indicate that the
truth was Monoson lost it for reasons unrelated to me
personally.) As a result of Monoson acknowledging this with
me, we were able to resume a working relation thereafter.
2. PURSUIT OF INDEMNIFICATION FOR ATTORNEY FEES
receipt of this letter on April 6, I contacted NU's Office of General
Counsel and was referred to Stephanie Graham. For almost
weeks, Graham gave me no information responsive to my request for
April 26, 2016, Graham by phone told me before NU would honor its
contract, I was required to submit to an "independent investigation,"
even though no such stipulation is in the indemnification clause.
Graham also stated that the encounter was clearly
thus triggering coverage, unlike another episode she'd shared (of law
professors arguing about a
gambling debt, I believe). The indemnification policy covers
employees long as they are following NU policies and acting in good
faith, as I was. Graham suggested the investigation was just
a formality and
required because the complaint involved two professors. (As I
pointed out, only
one of them, Tillery, was threatening litigation.)
3. MEETING WITH THE ANTI-CHRIST, MAY 5, 2016
I met with Kathleen
in-house counsel at St. Xavier University. It turns out that
she has an expertise in firing
unsuccessfully, to require faculty traveling among St. Xavier campus
sites to submit to mandatory, random
The entire meeting was an ordeal, as I explained in an e-mail
thereafter to Graham
4. RINEHART'S EXECUTIVE SUMMARY, SAVED AS PDF
(We are redacting
documents for release.)
The document bears only the vaguest resemblance to an inquiry
subject heading is: 'Executive Summary:
Investigation -- Conduct in the Political Science Department," not
b) Rinehart's summary of
her indemnification inquiry fails to engage
NU's indemnification policy!
assume the University, not unlike other colleges and universities
across the country, insures its faculty under some form of educator's
professional legal liability coverage...Eligibility for defense and/or
indemnification usually is dependent on the following: ..."
the end of the report she states, "the nature and impact of Stevens'
hostile and aggressive conduct toward colleagues over time [again,
nothing specific] ...her refusal to retract public statements that
Tillery verbally abused [sic] on March 8) [sic] may constitute a breach
of her duty of loyalty under University Statutes and thereby may
preclude the indemnification of her conduct toward Tillery on March 8."
Four other conclusions have nothing to do with March 8 or
NU told me they were bringing Rinehart in to provide me indemnification
but NU obviously tasked Rinehart with something quite different, which
I consider fraud.
c) The report distorts my
into her disorganized narrative, Rinehart includes a
paragraph in which she invents an incoherent account of my
indemnification request, to wit that I didn't want to "waste time and
money on an attorney" and that "at the recommendation of Gibson, [I]
would have a conversation with Attorney Mills Graham." This
it seems as though I was not requesting indemnification to hire an
attorney, even though this was the sole purpose of our interview.
already talked with Graham and indicated I wanted NU to pay for an
the event, even here, Rinehart says nothing about whether the
narratives she's just provided are consistent with NU's indemnification
policy, which she can't ever do because she doesn't bother to engage
with what the expansive
actually states. If I were hallucinating
that Tillery yelled at me based on a psychotic "break from reality,"
then that would be a symptom of mental illness and any consequences
could not be construed as a breach of loyalty to the university, per
NU's policy. Reinhart can avoid this inference only by failing
to consider NU's policy.
Would a truly independent expert commissioned to
write a report on an employee's eligibility for indemnification avoid
contracting university's specific indemnification policy?
repeats non-specific anxieties from an unknown number of interviewees
All but one of the individuals with whom Rinehart met appear to have
been selected by Monoson -- whom a colleague reports was in
constant communication with Rinehart during the investigation and
recently had been working closely with Provost Dan Linzer to save the
Eikenberry appointment, including corralling faculty
signatures, including Tillery's, for her letter
, a platidinous piece of puffery that
was read out loud at the Faculty Senate. The sole
to the NU-organized list was the then-student witness, whose
account Rinehart disregarded.
Rinehart's summary concludes, "Faculty (other than Stevens) and staff
with whom I met
expressed a sense of relief in having a confidential and safe place to
discuss concerns about Stevens' conduct -- either the particular
conduct that occurred on March 8, or other conduct in which Stevens has
engaged that is similar to what occurred on March 8. But,
and staff also were very clear in their desire for the University to do
something tangible and formal to address and manage Stevens' conduct,
well as the impact it is having on them personally (e.g., emotionally,
physically) and professionally (e.g., interference with Department and
subfield work, harming the Department's atmosphere and the ability to
work productively as colleagues.)"
Paraphrased: People chosen because they dislike me for my
conscientious department citizenship were happy
for Reinhart to elicit, validate, and retaliate based on
vague, pseudo-grievances, the only one specified
claim I filed a false report.
The single best line I've
received so far to explain the Department craziness comes from my
colleague Professor Rebecca Zorach in her letter to Dean Adrian
Randolph, which I quote with her permission:
"The overt charges
mentioned in Professor Stevens's account appear to consist of the
shocking behavior of acting like a tenured professor while
(A slight correction: I have no specific charges.)
Psycho Faculty Playbook
states without hesitation or qualification that my accurate report of
Tillery yelling "reflects a pattern of conduct that he and others in
the Department view as disturbing and highly erratic 'breaks from
reality.'" This is a phrase Tillery repeats in his interviews
"Breaks from reality" is a psychiatric
term of art for describing psychotic behavior, such as in
schizophrenia, as when someone believes she is Napoleon.
an interesting use of the phrase in a court
.) Conveniently, this maps
onto a legal script for removing faculty from campus successfully
Right, alas, it turns out that I am not alone.
As a result of the high profile of this case, I have been receiving
emails from academics across the country, mostly women -- one man --
who have gone through something similar. Here's an excerpt
an email that just arrived today, used as redacted and with the
sender's generous permission:
had the exact same thing happen to me at [REDACTED]. My
department chair, on her word and her word alone, accused me of being
"a threat to the safety of others." I was banned from campus
and prohibited from speaking to anyone from [REDACTED], including to
one student who was a fellow volunteer at a non-profit. So I
was told that I was not allowed to speak to someone even in the context
of an activity of my personal life. My friends were told to
"report any contact" from me. I have a tape recording of the
Dean telling me I was not allowed to speak to any faculty, staff, or
students. So, 38,000 people that I was not allowed to speak
my case it was because I had $[REDACTED],000 in NSF funding attached to
my name. I was banned from campus and the money
disappeared. I learned the hard way that there is virtually
no accountability for how NSF funding is spent.
just want you to know that you are not the only one that this has
happened to. And please remember that you are the good person
here, and that the chair and associate chair are behaving incredibly
irresponsibly and unethically.
As I obtain more permissions I will share these accounts as well.
to why I call this sexist when perpetrated by female supervisors:
these conniving court minions resemble the officials
who might be
found in Putin's Russia,
or Qatar's "Education City"; they are threatened by the
critical engagements expected of tenured
faculty, including women, and they are not immune to stereotypes as to
who may be attacked for nonconformity.
5. The Throw-Her-Out Report.
reason Tillery is begging for NU to make Rinehart's account public is
because it baselessly defames me, which is exactly what NU was paying
for. To paraphrase, Senator
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about the so-called Valukas Report General
to explain why no one bothered to fix faulty ignition switches that
were killing people, the Rinehart report is the "best report money can
And, by the way, it's not as though NU's General
Counsel Philip Harris is a stranger to bogus independent reports.
Where did Harris worked before coming taking over at
That's right, the Anton Valukas-run Chicago
law firm of Jenner and Block
And what was Harris's specialty? Defending General
Motors, including in
product liability cases, a long-standing relationship that predated his
employment at Jenner and Block.
Valukas thanks the anonymous Jenner
assisted him in the report's preparation. Of course you don't
be a partner in the firm associated with one of the most high profile
white washes in recent history to hit
on the sham report
, but an amusing coincidence
nonetheless. The Valukas report alone proves nothing, but it does
context important for evaluating Tillery's reliance on a similar
commissioned legal product and the report's suppression of actual
evidence from the ear-witness, who swears
he shared his experience with Rinehart
(NU's spokesperson Alan Cubbage did not immediately respond
to a request
to identify Harris's specific responsibilities in preparing
the Valukas report; I will amend as additional information arrives.)
Harris, Graham's supervisor and copied on Rinehart's report, assumed
duties as NU's chief legal
and hence ethics officer on
January 1, 2016, after
more than 25 years on Northwestern's Board
and coming from a
firm that has been representing General Dynamics (GD) and GD's founding
the mainstays of NU's Board, since the mid-20th century. (NU's voting
trustees are a small subset of the total.) Harris's
longstanding mutually interlocking affiliations and board memberships
with other NU trustees suggest he is the worst person to serve as an
independent check on trustees hijacking NU for private purposes,
including trashing the institution's academic bona fides
by trying to fire a tenured professor for asking tough
questions about Harris and his crony bosses' use of NU for
purposes, the acts and consequences thereof to be documented here this
Harris has long been aware of my concerns about unseemly conflicts and
income sources for him and other NU trustees and officers. I
first drew the Faculty Senate's attention to Harris at the meeting on
March 4, 2016, the minutes of which have disappeared
from the Faculty Senate website
. On April 6, 2016,
shortly before the first Associated Student Government meeting to
discuss their resolution to oppose the Eikenberry appointment, I sent
Harris a query as to his apparent conflicts of interests
request for his actual statement of these, per the NU's Board's policy.
Harris did not reply.
I did receive a reply later that day from Julia Campbell, who
directs NU's Office
of Conflicts of Interest under
the Associate Vice President for Research
assured me that "no conflict of interest has been identified."
the Brand NU World vindication can be bought.