Penn State Protects “Climategate” Professor
Michael Mann, the Penn State professor at the center of the “Climategate” controversy, is set to be scrutinized by a small team of Penn State faculty. This committee has 120 days to delve into the details of the accusations that Mann falsified information and provided misleading evidence to support climate change.
The committee investigating this situation is made up of three people including Henry Foley (Vice President for Research), William Brune (Mann’s boss in the Meteorology Department) and Candice Yekel (Director of the Office of Research Protections).
If Mann is found to have violated Penn State policy, he will have a 14 day window to respond. Additionally, a committee made up of 5 tenured professors who have no conflict of interest with the controversy will be called upon to examine the situation.
A Penn State spokeswoman explains that this case is nothing like they have ever encountered at the university:
This is quite a different case than we’ve had in the past. We take any claims of misconduct very seriously… in some cases the people have been separated from the university. Sometimes allegations are brought forward that have no validity.
What makes the investigation more interesting is that, according to University Policy the outcome of the committee’s deliberations may be kept confidential. Like many Universities around the country, probes into faculty misconduct are protected, “to the maximum extent possible.” Additionally, many people are outraged that no one from outside Penn State is being asked to review the situation. Since this is the case, is it conceivable that Penn State is trying to save face to ensure that research dollars keep rolling in?
In the end, it may be good for University research funding if the findings of the committee are not released. However, it does not bode well for Penn State’s reputation in the scientific community if Penn State does not allow for transparency in the findings. And given the public outcry that this incident has already sparked, Mann’s professional career may be headed down the tubes even if he is found to not have provided misleading information.
What do you think? Should Penn State release the findings of the review committee? Should Penn State actively protect Mann’s reputation?