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Sticks and Stones Do Break Bones, But Dumb Notes Get Me Fired

By Jocelyn Geboy in News on Sep 12, 2007 5:32PM

Drama at Columbia College is par for the course, with lots of creatives going there to get their degrees. However, we don't think they want this kind of drama. Professor Reid Hyams contends that his recent firing from Columbia College was due to pressure from other faculty members and was out of line with school policy, because it was his first offense. He's filed a lawsuit which contends that his credentials (e.g., has been involved in the music industry for more than 40 years, past officer of The Recording Academy, was an adjunct faculty member at Columbia (1983 to 1991) and recent contract extension (until Aug. 2008) show that he was even courted by Columbia.

Hired by Columbia in 2006 (facilities director for Columbia's Department of Audio Arts and Acoustics), he was given a $5,000 salary increase in May 2007 to keep him from going to take a job with a record company. The suit says that the drama started shortly after his contract was extened. Allegedly, another department professor, Jack Alexander, "demanded that he be given Hyams' office," and while Alexander turned down an offer for a different office, "in an effort to keep peace within the department," Hyams agreed to let Alexander have his office.

2007_09dumbpaper.jpgAs the move happened and while Alexander was off-campus, Hyams' lawsuit details that he put a "derogatory note on the door-handle of Alexander's existing office, as an impromptu joke." Some people say that it was about Alexander having sex with donkeys, but Hyams has stated that wasn't what it said. However, according to Hyams, he was not allowed to "explain either his conduct or the problems that Alexander was causing in the department and Alexander's animosity towards Hyams" with Noreen Bartoni, the dean of the School of Media Arts.

Hyams was reprimanded for the note on June 20, which he contends was in accordance with the school's policies. But he was fired permanently on June 25 and to court we go. We sometimes think that we've gotten way too politically correct sometimes and that some things that used to go by unnoticed are fodder for people to get litigious and try and get some cash. On the other hand, because of the current conditions, we can't imagine what Hyams was thinking. Why would you think that would be okay in any context, much less an academic setting? We can't answer that question, but it seems that the question now to be answered is whether or not he was fired prematurely and out of step with school policy.

"Valuable workshop notes with Laine" by hollen