UNH professor tampers with evaluations, faces termination

By Ken Johnson
On April 26, 2013

  • Kyle Maroney took home the title of Mr. UNH last Tuesday night in a charity event hosted by the Chi Omega sorority. Courtesy Photo

A UNH professor is facing termination after he tampered with a fellow professor's student evaluations.
In an email sent to colleagues by UNH professor Marco Dorfsman on April 19, 2013, Dorfsman admitted to altering an unnamed colleague's student evaluations in December of 2012.  
Dorfsman is an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and was chairperson of the department at the time of the alleged tampering.
"Last December I had what I can only say was an emotional breakdown and I did a terrible thing," Dorfsman said in the email.
According to the email, a tragedy played a part in Dorfsman's actions.
"There were mitigating factors related to a personal tragedy in my family and other personal and professional pressures that created a perfect storm in which I acted out from a very dark and vulnerable place," the email said.  
Student evaluations, which are filled out by students every semester, are used by UNH in making tenure, promotion and salary decisions for instructors. UNH policy states that instructors and the department chairperson are not to review evaluations before they are processed.
The university declined to comment on the allegations against Dorfsman.

"We are aware of the allegations against Professor Dorfsman and are responding," Erica Mantz, director of UNH Media Relations, said. "At this point we can not comment further because this is a personnel matter."
The email stated that Dorfsman apologized to Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Kenneth Fuld, the rest of his colleagues and the unnamed colleague as well as stepped down as chair of languages, literatures and cultures.
"We were able to recover the data and limit the damage," the email said.
The current interim-chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Lina Lee, was also unavailable for comment since the case is currently under the investigation the department.
Dorfsman himself was not available for comment on the allegations presented against him.
"There is an ongoing investigation and it would be inappropriate for me to say anything at this time," Dorfsman said.  
According to the email, out-going UNH Provost John Aber was the one who sent the case to the Professional Standards Committee, which is a part of Faculty Senate. The email said Aber had given the opinion that Dorfsman should be dismissed for moral turpitude.
When reached for comment, Assistant of the Provost Helen Brewster declined to comment. According to Brewster, the reason for this was because the allegations and investigation were a personnel matter.
From the email, Dorfsman believes his actions are not grounds for termination.
"I do not believe my act represents my character, nor my value and commitment to this institution," the email said.
The AAUP-UNH, the union for tenure track faculty at UNH, released a statement on the investigation.
"It is vital that I withhold comment until the cases have proceeded through the Professional Standards Committee so as not to prejudice the proceedings," Deanna Wood, grievance officer for AAUP-UNH, said.
The email said the Professional Standards Committee has been deliberating this week and over the past weekend regarding Dorsfman. When asked for a comment on the investigation, Todd DeMitchell, chair of the Professional Standards Committee, declined comment.
"Any information that I may have is confidential and cannot be shared," DeMitchell said.

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