Fire Antonio Bernardo, Dean of UCLA's Anderson School of Management
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Antonio Bernardo, Dean of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, suspended Gordon Klein after he told students emailing him to exempt black students from bad grades on the final exam that their request was impractical and discriminated on the basis of skin color. Just one day earlier, the School had told instructors,“If students ask for accommodations such as assignment delays or exam cancellations, I strongly encourage you to follow the normal procedures.”
After a Twitter cancelling of Klein and an online petition asking for his firing, Dean Bernardo characterized him as having "a disregard for our core principles, including an abuse of power." He called Klein’s actions “troubling” and said that “all appropriate investigative offices” were looking into ways to deal with him. After suspending Klein, Dean Bernardo gave the students a longer exam time, a three-day window for taking it, and promised consideration of “difficult circumstances” in the distribution of grades.
Klein is a lawyer, CPA, and professional keyboardist who has taught at UCLA for over 30 years, trained more than 8,000 accountants to pass the CPA exam, written a leading textbook on ethics in accounting, and served as the sole accounting expert for General Motors’s bankruptcy and reorganization. But Dr. Bernardo calls him abusive.
In suspending Klein, Dr. Bernardo has shown himself unfit for the job of Dean. His panicky response to Twitter crtiticism of a colleague and his failure to back up instructors when they try to maintain standards is disgraceful. He is killing the idea of "teachable moments" when he disciplines a teacher who challenges students to think about whether their proposals are practical, legal, and fair. He has punished an employee of the State of California for expressing the wrong political views, something illegal even if Bernardo's motive is to appease activists rather than donors or politicians--- and he has thus exposed UCLA to legal liability. He has lowered the university’s standards and shamed it in front of the world.
The only way UCLA can regain credibility is to remove Dr. Bernardo as Dean and return him to his former position of professor of finance, a position he apparently filled with distinction and in which he will not be able to persecute his colleagues. We should not feel sorry for him, despite his having to return to his old teaching salary of just $512,000 per year. He is not the first professor to wilt under pressure after becoming an administrator, but the damage from his appointment must be limited to one year, not his full term.
We, the undersigned, request that UCLA Chancellor Gene Block immediately fire Dean Bernardo and reinstate Professor Al Osborne, who was interim dean until 2019. In contrast to Dean Bernardo, Interim Dean’s Osborne’s goal was:
Values-based leadership, guided by moral principles and an active practice of achieving desired outcomes in constructive and collaborative ways....
The acceptance of different points of view as expressed typically by different ethnicity, genders and cultures is the secret sauce of the American experience.... I want to encourage people to get out into the traffic of ideas and collide with somebody with a different point of view.
That's what UCLA and the Anderson School need to get back to.
Further details can found at this appendix. Dean Antonio Bernardo and his superior, Chancellor Gene Block, can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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