Finance professor Francis Kemegue has accused members of the business department of “rushing” him out of his position.
Kemegue said after confronting the chair of the business department, Patricia Thomas, he was perceived as a threat and asked to leave campus.
He said he is now on administrative leave and his terminal contract ends May 31.
He emailed some of his students on Thursday, Jan. 21 asking them to “vouch” for him and contact elected officials.
Kemegue alleges the root of the conflict stems from his application for tenure, which he submitted in September 2015. He alleges the following evaluation was “capricious.
“They would say great things about me, great things about my contribution. But in the end, they would argue that they did not think that I deserved tenure,” he said.
He alleged that somebody “violated the privacy” of the tenure process by speaking with evaluators, which allegedly led to a negative review of Kemegue.
Kemegue alleged he spoke with Thomas to “stand up” for himself.
In addition to being denied tenure, he said he was unhappy that she was allegedly “removing” or blocking him from committees on which “she knew I would contribute immensely.”
As a result of this conversation, Kemegue alleged he was perceived as a threat.
He said, “The only thing I did was stand up for myself and explain that your current actions and your past actions are leading to me being excluded.”
Kemegue said he believes “the nature of the argument” against him to be racist.
“‘Dr. Kemegue did not present his work really well. Dr. Kemegue presents a threat’ – I mean, these are things that can be said about any black man,” he said.
When asked why he alleges the University and members of the business department perceive him as a threat, Kemegue said, “Maybe they will explain better as to why they think I’m a threat.”
Rita Colucci, chief of staff and general counsel, professor and former chair Sandra Rahman and Thomas both declined to comment.
As of Thursday evening, Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president of academic affairs, had not returned a request for comment.
“The only threat I do represent, and I’m not ashamed of it, is intellectual threat,” Kemegue said.
After sending the email to his students, Kemegue said he received the letter asking him to leave the campus the following morning.
“I felt like my students, who actually know me from having been in my classroom, some of them for about four years in four different classes, could actually attest to my character,” Kemegue said.
In the email, Kemegue wrote that Thomas wrote a “capricious” evaluation of him, and that she “diffuses” his work while promoting others with “less experience and less publications.”
Additionally, Kemegue wrote in the email that Rahman “got me reprimanded for going to South Africa for a dissertation defense.”
He also alleged in the email that Rahman manipulated co-workers into giving him a “rushed” evaluation.
“My students need to understand that I was being bullied and mobbed,” he said.
“There were those students who appreciated me as a mentor and I thought they needed to understand in this particular situation that when they hear about Dr. Kemegue being mentally unfit, or Dr. Kemegue not having qualifications for his job, or that Dr. Kemegue represents a threat toward anyone, that all of that is not correct.”
Junior and former student of Kemegue Campbell Marchant said he was a “good” and “fair professor” who was “targeted.”
Austin Gaudreau, junior and another former student of Kemegue’s, said he was a “nice and interesting professor.”
However, he did not feel it was appropriate of Kemegue to send the email to his students.
“I never really developed a great relationship with him and I feel as if other students felt that way, too,” he said. “So for him to ask us to vouch for him was very weird and uncomfortable.”