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Fired UI professor says he will appeal

Erin Jordan, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

Update: A fired University of Iowa professor says he will appeal to the state Board of Regents and file a court injunction halting the termination.

The UI fired Dr. Malik Juweid, a tenured radiology professor, this week after a judicial panel found he compromised patient confidentiality and acted inappropriately toward coworkers.

“Both the University and UIHC rely upon an atmosphere of collegiality among their faculty to function effectively,” the three-person panel wrote in a report released by the UI Thursday. “Dr. Juweid, by his actions, has shown that he did not work within the bounds of that required collegiality.”

President Sally Mason approved the termination in a letter this week: “I direct that the panel’s recommendations be implemented,” she wrote.

Read Mason’s letter here.

Juweid’s attorney, Rockne Cole, says Mason had a conflict of interest in deciding Juweid’s employment because she is named in Juweid’s lawsuit alleging discrimination by university officials. On these grounds, Cole will appeal to the regents and through district court, he said.

Tenured professors generally cannot be fired without just cause. These terminations are still rare enough that the Chronicle of Higher Education writes about individual cases across the country.

Juweid, 51, has been on paid leave since Jan. 12, 2011, drawing a salary of $245,683 in Fiscal 2011. He came to the UI in 2000.

The 44-page judicial panel report includes portions of Juweid’s emails to officials at the university and elsewhere. In a Feb. 23, 2008, email to a scientist at the National Institutes of Health, Juweid called the man a “pathetic creature.”

“Did you read the United Nations resolution below equating Zionism with racism? You should in your position be above this, you prejudiced immoral Arab-hater!” Juweid wrote in the email from his university account.

Read the report here.

Juweid was put on notice in September 2008 that further emails like this would be grounds for discipline, the panel reported. But Juweid continued to speak his mind in emails through 2010, when he filed discrimination complaints with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the UI’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

On Jan. 11, 2011, the UI’s threat-assessment team met with UI hospitals employees who had concerns about Juweid’s behavior, according to the report.

UI officials who testified at a June 15 hearing before the judicial panel said Juweid frequently wished death upon coworkers who opposed him and pressured other employees to speak on his behalf.

Juweid, participating in the June hearing via Skype from his home country of Jordan, said wishing for someone’s death is common in Arabic cultures and shouldn’t be taken as an actual threat.

The team did not interview Juweid before deeming him a threat, witnesses said.

“He went from one of the top professors in the United States to a threat without a hearing,” Cole said.

Juweid sued the UI in May 2011 and will return to Iowa for depositions by Oct. 30.

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