The gist of the lawsuit is that Soloski's forced resignation as dean was not because of the "sexual harassment" [more on that below] accusation that Adams used as a stalking horse to demote him, reduce his salary and tarnish his academic career. Rather, the suit accuses the administration of mistreating Soloski since 2001 after he refused the interim provost's demand for him to write a letter of support for Adams as the president came under fire after an audit commissioned by the UGA Foundation. To paraphrase, Adams metaphorically put Soloski on his enemies list and conducted a Richard Nixon-esque takedown.
According to the Banner-Herald, "a month after auditors released findings in October 2003, the deans of all 14 of UGA's schools and colleges signed a statement that called for the end of the controversy between Adams and the UGA Foundation, but stopped short of blanket support of Adams, who vehemently denied accusations of financial wrongdoing contained in the audit." Soloski said the intent of the demand (for a letter of support) "was to rebuild Defendant Adams' ailing credibility in the eyes of the public and University community."
Soloski's accusations come along at an interesting time, since the Banner-Herald recently ran an article observing that all UGA Deans have now been hand-picked by Adams--a 100% turnover since his arrival in 1996. Soloski's charges certainly pass the sniff test if he is arguing that anything less than total, unquestioning, sycophantic loyalty to Adams personally will result in being stripped of your position as Dean in favor of a more obedient successor. Our take: under Adams, there is no virtue to be found in loyalty to the institution if one hopes to be in a leadership position at UGA. Some deans are even hired by presidential fiat and without the bothersome pretense of a search committe.
Soloski appears to be extremely committed to getting relief through the courts. He promises in the article to take the case to federal court if the state court in Fulton County does not grant the relief he requests. Is Soloski a credible plaintiff? The sexual harassment accusation Adams used to force him out is a controversial topic. After a black-tie fundraising event in June 2005 Soloski apparently told a female faculty member in his department that her dress looked very nice or something to that effect. She didn't appreciate the comment and accused him of creating a hostile work environment.
Pay no attention to my endowment fundraising. I command you!
Inquisition investigation conducted by Adams hand-picked Legal Affairs Director Steve Shewmaker's office (during which Soloski says he was not allowed to present evidence on his own behalf), it was concluded he had violated the University policy on sexual harassment. Unquestionably, Soloski showed poor judgment. Whether this exhibition of poor judgment equals sexual harassment could be vigorously debated. We don't know what they teach about procedural due process at Shewmaker's University of Kentucky, but at the University of Georgia--and Constitutionally--it means notice and opportunity to be heard.
What does the suit mean? Probably not much. Unless there is a smoking gun email out there, Soloski has enough baggage that he may not be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence he was blackballed for failing to support Adams. Unless the University and Board of Regents are able to buy Soloski off with a settlement, I would expect some embarrassing details to hit the papers during the discovery phase. There is no telling who might be on Soloski's deposition wish list, but there are probably some
forced out former deans who think Soloski might be right about Adams.
We think that when loyalty to a person is substituted for loyalty to an institution or to ideas--or when the distinction is deliberately obscured-- the integrity of the institution or ideas is inevitably eroded. We believe this to be a truism both as applied to Michael Adams and as applied to governments generally. Consolidation of power by the president of an institution (whether academic or geopolitical) is stifling to the free exchange of ideas and opinions. The frequent result is unpopular policy and manipulation of people by fear and coercion.
We have to confess that when we read about the lawsuit this morning, we were pleased. But the happiness has given way to resignation and sadness. The reason lies at the heart of our dislike for Michael Adams. See, we love the University of Georgia (not just the Bulldogs). There is no question that neither the University of Georgia nor the University System of Georgia will benefit from the distraction of this lawsuit. Eventually, distractions and embarrassments will reach a tipping point. When? When our state's leaders realign their loyalty to institutions and ideas instead of to individuals.
There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties.
Mike Adams Corruption Division