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EDITORIAL: Marder matter needs decisive conclusion

Another lawsuit was has been filed by former University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor John Marder, who again is challenging his dismissal.

Another lawsuit was has been filed by former University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor John Marder, who again is challenging his dismissal.

Marder, who was released from UWS employment in 2001, has been supported by the Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals. The group argues the action against Marder lacked due process.

Among accusations against Marder is that he sexually harassed students, misused funds and created disharmony within his department. The Board of Regents' Personnel Review Committee reviewed the case three times, finding insufficient evidence for dismissal. Regents themselves, however, dismissed Marder after receiving testimony, behind closed doors, from UWS Chancellor Julius Erlenbach. At dispute is whether that meeting should have been open.

Sadly, this fine legal point distracts from the accusations. In the overall employment world, such accusations would be taken very seriously, followed by a decisive investigation and response. But Marder was a tenured professor. In educational circles, that's interpreted as meaning untouchable. Any disciplinary effort could be construed as attacking academic freedom.

Protecting academic freedom, however, involves ensuring teachers may freely share a variety of philosophies without censorship. It's not about protecting employees who might abuse students or ignore university policies.

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It also must be noted that protecting students and taxpayers should carry the same weight as protecting tenured professors.

When the scale tips toward protecting academics at the expense of others, there's an obvious imbalance.

In any case, the Marder situation has left parties injured. The victim or victims deserve to have this matter resolved quickly.

Closure should not languish for more than six years.

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