Former leftist UW professor in hot water at Temple

By Christian Schneider, College Fix

A prominent Temple University professor who famously trolled Republicans on Twitter a few years ago while at UW-Madison was recently placed on paid administrative leave from Temple’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice amid an investigation into potential financial mismanagement.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, hired by Temple in 2016, has led the Hope Center since 2018, but was put on leave after the university hired an independent investigator to look into the center’s finances.

Goldrick-Rab remains a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple.

“Temple takes seriously its responsibility to ensure a supportive workplace climate and professional environment,” Senior Director of Communications Deirdre Hopkins told The College Fix in an emailed statement.

“Since the time that concerns were raised both by Dr. Goldrick-Rab and individuals working at The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, the university has undertaken a review of operations in accordance with university policy,” she said.

“We anticipate completing that review shortly and will move forward in the best interests of Temple and The Hope Center.”

Inside Higher Ed interviewed more than a dozen past and present center employees who alleged the center also suffered from a “toxic” work environment under Goldrick-Rab’s leadership.

Goldrick-Rab did not respond to a request for comment by The College Fix. Neither did current Hope interim Director Anne Lundquist.

The Hope Center describes itself as “an action research center transforming higher education into a more effective, equitable, and impactful sector.”

Last year, the center brought in $6 million and employed 50 people. Just last week, the center announced it would be laying off eight workers. According to interviews with current and past employees, nearly two dozen Hope Center workers have left in the past several years.

Former employees told Inside Higher Ed that Goldrick-Rab had told Hope Center workers to raise money for the professor’s nonprofit organization, Believe in Students, rather than for the center, claiming that funneling money through her own tax-exempt organization allowed Goldrick-Rab to circumvent many of the school’s rules.

“She hated working within Temple’s internal systems and actively sought out ways to bypass them,” one former employee told IHE. “She would direct staff at the Hope Center to write grants on behalf of Believe in Students, even though we were not employed by them or obligated to do so. Because the center is 100 percent grant funded, we should not be using any of our time to write grants for another organization.”

Goldrick-Rab initially made news as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 when she tweeted that she saw “terrifying” psychological similarities between then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Nazi leader and mass murderer Adolf Hitler.

“My grandfather, a psychologist, just walked me through similarities between Walker and Hitler,” she wrote. “There are so many-it’s terrifying.” The next day, she tweeted “No doubt about it-Walker and many Wisconsin Legislators are fascists. Period. They proved it today. #SHAME.”

In a later interview with The College Fix, Goldrick-Rab apologized: “I clearly caused offense, and I’m sorry for that. That was not my intention.”

Goldrick-Rab again caused controversy when her school found out she had been trying to dissuade happy incoming freshman from attending UW-Madison because of proposed changes to faculty governance and tenure. Goldrick-Rab admitted to searching Twitter for pictures of incoming freshman and essentially telling them to take their money elsewhere.

“No one cares sara,” one of the students had replied. Another answered “who are you lol.”

UW-Madison’s faculty governing group later criticized Goldrick-Rab, saying she hurt both academic freedom and the university “with inaccurate statements and misrepresentations.

When Temple hired Goldrick-Rab, they were aware of her frequent Twitter use and controversies she had created.

“Looking objectively at her record,” Temple Dean of Education Greg Anderson said at the time, “it’s really a no-brainer for any serious college or university to want to have faculty like her, based on her funding productivity, her scholarly and research activity, and her impact on public policy and the postsecondary arena.”

But those good feelings didn’t last long for many of the employees that worked under Goldrick-Rab.

“The center fails to live out the public values of the work being done when it comes to the treatment of staff,” one anonymous former employee told Inside Higher Ed.

Read more at The College Fix.

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