Detroit— A longtime Wayne State University instructor quit his job at the Board of Governors meeting Friday in protest of what he said was the dean of the College of Engineering’s “lack of integrity.”
James Woodyard, an associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, announced at the end of the meeting that he would be resigning effective Friday.
“It is not a request for retirement. It is a request for resignation,” said Woodyard, speaking during the public comment period. “I’m not negotiating. I’ve made the decision that I have to leave Wayne State University.”
Woodyard, who said he has taught at WSU for 38 years, asked the board to reconsider a decision made by President M. Roy Wilson and Provost Margaret Winters not to investigate Dean Farshad Fotouhi.
Woodyard gave documents to the board outlining what he and several other engineering professors consider evidence of a lack of integrity. Woodyard said he didn’t believe Wilson and Winters had “done due diligence” in dealing with Fotouhi.
Fotouhi could not be reached Friday evening for comment. Matt Lockwood, a university spokesman, declined comment.
At the meeting, Wilson acknowledged the issue has been ongoing and that he had been talking with Woodyard and other instructors for months. He said they had met in November and he went over the group’s complaints.
“After our meeting in November, I went through every page of that document you gave me as well as the provost going through and interviewing other members of the College of Engineering,” he said. “I’m sorry that our decision was not to your liking.”
On Monday, Wilson sent a letter to Woodyard and five other engineering professors outlining why he didn’t believe an investigation was necessary.
“Dean Fotouhi should be afforded sufficient time to allow the changes he is trying to implement to bear fruit,” Wilson wrote in the letter. “We conclude that he should be allowed to continue his leadership of the College of Engineering and that his performance be reviewed — as occurs with all deans — in the usual five-year time frame, in the last year of his current contract.”
Fotouhi was appointed dean of the College of Engineering in February 2011. According to his university profile, Fotouhi joined Wayne State University in 1988. Before becoming chairman of the Department of Computer Science, he was associate chairman from 2000-04 and a member of the faculty.
Among Woodyard’s grievances against Fotouhi are claims that he denied an instructor funding for an assistant for a large lecture class and made false statements about budgets and about private companies that were using a clean room — a sterilized lab — at the College of Engineering.
Charles Parrish, president of the WSU faculty union, has known Woodyard for many years, and thinks highly of him.
“He has always been a person of high principle,” Parrish said. “He’s been a tremendous servant to the academic community ... and he has always stood up for what he believes in.”
But Parrish said he might not have made the same decision as Woodyard and resigned.
“It’s not the Kremlin, you don’t get shot when you are an enemy,” Parrish said. “But I understand why he did it and I support his decision. He has to make decisions he can live with in good conscience.”