Wright State could make firing decision on former provost today

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 9:34 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

Former Wright State provost Sundarum Narayanan is on paid leave from the university.
Former Wright State provost Sundarum Narayanan is on paid leave from the university.

Wright State University’s board of trustees is expected to meet today to decide whether to fire long-suspended former provost Sundaram Narayanan.

But, new documents obtained by this news organization through a public records request show Wright State president Cheryl Schrader wanted the board to terminate Narayanan’s position as a faculty member earlier this month. In a letter dated May 21, Schrader asked trustees to fire Narayanan at the board’s June 8 budget meeting.

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Trustees are expected to meet with Narayanan and his attorney at today in a closed-door executive session in the Wright Brothers Room of the student union. An agenda for the meeting does not specifically mention Narayanan but states that trustees will discuss employment matters and the evaluation of university personnel.

Narayanan has been on paid leave for more than three years during a federal investigation of possible violation of immigration laws. 

He was one of four university administrators initially suspended in May 2015 because of the federal probe, which a Dayton Daily News investigation revealed was related to the university’s use of H-1B temporary work visas to secure employees for an area IT staffing firm in possible violation of immigration rules.

Schrader’s recommendation came just over a month after a special hearing board was convened to determine whether Narayanan was guilty of “substantial and manifest neglect of duty.” The board reviewed more than 1,000 pages of document’s related to Narayanan’s case, according to a May 3 letter from the special board to Schrader.

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The special board of six university employees unanimously agreed that Naraynan “failed to execute proper oversight” while serving as provost, according to a letter from the special board to Schrader dated May 3. But, the six employees believe the university “did not meet its burden of proof” to find Narayanan guilty of “substantial and manifest neglect,” according to the May 3 letter.

Two members of the special board voted that Narayanan should be fired and four members of the board voted that Narayanan should be suspended without pay.

In her May 21 letter to trustees, Schrader said that she agreed with the minority of the special board.

“In my judgment as President, based upon my career and experiences in academia including both faculty and administration roles, I find that I firmly agree with the minority of the hearing board members, that there IS sufficient evidence,” Schrader wrote.

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WSU board of trustees chairman Doug Fecher has said trustees will listen to what Narayanan and his attorney have to say during the Wednesday meeting before making a final decision on his employment. Fecher didn’t rule out the possibility of trustees making a decision the same day though.

“I’d like to hear what they have to say and then the board will have to go from there,” Fecher said last week. “Until I hear what’s said at that meeting, I can’t comment.”

Attorney Ted Copetas, who represents Narayanan, previously told the Dayton Daily News he could not comment on what plans they have if the former provost is fired.

“We simply hope to convince the board (of trustees) to follow the recommendation of the hearing board, which is based on facts and evidence,” Copetas said. “We’ll have to evaluate our options after the board of trustees makes that decision.”

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