Open Letter to UCLA Administrators: Keep Professor Fink at UCLA!

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We, the undersigned, are deeply repulsed by UCLA’s treatment (or rather, mistreatment) of Keith Fink — who was one of the most popular and influential professors on campus. In concert with other campus officials, the Department of Communication Studies’ leadership (Chair Kerri Johnson, Vice Chair Greg Bryant, and MSO Jane Bitar) and the former Dean of Social Sciences (Laura Gomez) have repeatedly taken actions against Professor Fink that thwarted his academic freedom and have resulted in his termination.

Kerri Johnson and Greg Bryant took the helm of the Communication Studies Department at the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year. Prior to ever meeting or speaking with Professor Fink – let alone seeing him teach – Johnson implemented an unprecedentedly-rigid cap on his courses, reversing years’ of past precedent. Her capricious justifications for this are dubious, at best.  Campus Reform explains in detail here.

The Department’s most recent actions are even more repulsive. Professor Fink was up for “Excellence Review” (an “up or out” review conducted during a lecturer’s 18th quarter teaching). Johnson and her cronies had repeatedly attempted to deprive Fink of the opportunity to submit positive material into his Excellence Review file. Such positive information would flatly contradict their mission to have Professor Fink deemed “not excellent” and thus terminated from UCLA.

At the outset of his evaluation, Professor Fink identified three Academic Senate faculty (including Johnson and Bryant) in the Department as “biased,” meaning their preexisting animosity towards Fink would prevent them from being able to objectively evaluate him. Despite their obligation to go to great lengths to avoid having a “biased” faculty member evaluate his course, Johnson nevertheless chose Bryant to evaluate Fink’s teaching. Unsurprisingly, Bryant’s review was negative. On a more sinister level, it is riddled with pernicious lies, deceptively mischaracterizes his course with out-of-context examples, and casts Fink as a radical loose cannon who uses “his role as a lecturer to espouse his own personal legal views.” Nothing could be further from the truth – evidenced in part by the glowing evaluations of almost all of the thousands of students who have taken his courses.  

Johnson also forcefully and incorrectly misstated the University policy governing the inclusion of positive student evaluation letters in his review file. To this day, she never acknowledged her mistake. Later, in dereliction of University policy, the Department failed to solicit student letters from a list of names provided by Professor Fink — until it was too late. When pressed on the issue and given a new list of names of students from whom letters could be solicited, the department “accidentally” omitted the single best letter from his review file.

These actions are no mistake and certainly not a coincidence. They constitute a series of calculated lies, vindictive decisions, and sloppy coverups to dispose of someone they dislike. The conspicuous amount of dishonesty and injustice targeted at Professor Fink is the antithesis of “Bruin Values” – the same virtues that the administration repeatedly flaunts and exhorts its students to adhere to.

UCLA has taught us to fight injustice whenever it rears its ugly head. We will not idly sit by as one of our beloved professors has his teaching career discarded in a politically-motivated and morally-bankrupt fashion by Chair Kerri Johnson, Laura Gomez, and other administrator-bureaucrats within the school’s ivory towers.

We demand that the school treat Professor Fink fairly, which includes restoring his academic freedom, removing Johnson from her position of power, and, most importantly, reinstating Fink as a continuing lecturer.

Professor Fink is by all outward measures one of UCLA’s greatest, most popular, and influential professors. If the school ignores our plea and continues to endorse the corrupt dealings in the Department of Communication Studies, they will not only permanently lose one of their most valuable and influential professors but also repel thousands of donors (current and future alike) from supporting this institution.

Today: Keep Professor Fink is counting on you

Keep Professor Fink at UCLA needs your help with “Keep Professor Fink at UCLA! Chancellor Block, Kerri Johnson, and other ideologue-administrators must cease mistreating Professor Fink and interfering with academic freedom and intellectual diversity at UCLA.”. Join Keep Professor Fink and 1,341 supporters today.