After an investigation into a claim that a senior administration official improperly used the work of a faculty member in a grant application, President Barry Mills said in an interview with the Orient that the "issue has been resolved" and that all parties concerned "are in good standing with the College."
Mills would not discuss details of the College's decision in regard to the matter, reported in last week's issue of the Orient. The allegation, made public at a faculty meeting last April by Professor of Biology Carey Phillips, consisted of a claim that a faculty member's work was submitted as a grant proposal without attribution or permission from that faculty member.
"Fundamentally, this was an issue that involved personnel," Mills said. "Like in dealings with students, this is remaining confidential."
He added that faculty?other than those on the Faculty Affairs Committee that took up the issue beginning last spring?would not be notified of any personnel decisions reached.
Mills underscored that he and the faculty involved in investigating the incident "took all that was said and reported very seriously."
"All appropriate measures were taken to uphold the integrity of the College," he said.
He would not discuss the details of the case other than to say, "The allegation that there was a security breach was not accurate."
While not explicitly alleging that a breach of computer network security occurred, Phillips questioned McEwen at the April faculty meeting about file security shortly after making his allegation of impropriety.
"Can you address what staff are permitted to do with our grants on file, since many might have access to the server where faculty store their work?" Phillips asked.
Phillips did not return repeated phone calls from the Orient seeking comment for this article.
Mills said that Dean of Academic Affairs Craig McEwen is working with counsel to finish the formulation of a new intellectual property policy?an area of policy all involved admit is currently incomplete and out-of-date.
In order to allow the faculty time to review the policy, Mills said, the Board of Trustees would not take up the issue during its upcoming October meeting. "There's no point in rushing this to the trustees," he said.
Professor of History Patrick Rael agreed that a new policy is necessary to encourage innovation among faculty. He said a draft of the policy currently being circulated is a "major step in the right direction."
"When openly and thoroughly vetted by all involved, the new policy could serve us well by bringing clarity to conflicts such as the one referenced in last week's Orient," Rael said. "But we must be very thoughtful about how we construct such a document."
Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Scott MacEachern and Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Bruce Kohorn both agreed that the College needs to update its policy.
"Concerns about privacy on the internet and personal computers are not confined to our small college, and I think this is an issue that our society has failed to adequately address," Kohorn said.
Said MacEachern, "I'll look forward to discussion of the updated policies in the faculty meetings, and anywhere else that such discussion happens."
Evan S. Kohn contributed to this article.