Update: A juror in the Spanier trial said the jury knew Spanier feigned ignorance of Sandusky’s crimes. Though he didn’t conspire to harm children, Spanier along with Schultz, Curley, and Paterno did conspire to hide the crimes to protect Penn State’s and their own reputations.

spanier_frownUpdate: The day after Spanier’s conviction, his nemesis Louis Freeh excoriated Spanier and his ilk in a press release that tells them all to take a hike and makes Greer’s comments below seem almost polite. Click the link to read the full statement.

The editors: We requested permission from Barry Roberts Greer to print this selection from “Malamud and Spanier at Oregon State.”* Keep in mind as you read that Greer was never on tenure track at OSU; the bogus tenure decision was to paper over a purge engineered by Graham Spanier and his toady, English chair Bob Frank. Like Greer said here and elsewhere, Spanier has a long history of corruption. The narrative below starts right after Frank, at Spanier’s direction, tried to fire Greer for publishing a commentary in a local paper exposing corruption at Oregon State.

graham spanierBut the English Department chair taking any action was prima facie evidence of an attempt to punish me for writing “Educating Joshua.” In addition, I hadn’t revealed any information not already public knowledge. In October of 1988, the state’s largest newspaper, the Portland Oregonian, had printed a scathing critique by Western Oregon State College (untenured) English professor M. Elizabeth Wallace of the entire Oregon higher education system’s treatment of writing instructors. Wallace, called “that woman” by Ede, was not fired. Frank could have ignored my essay as Wallace’s essay was ignored. Second, Frank simply could have waited until I did leave the first chance I got, just as Malamud had done. Third, he could have refused to renew my contract after June of 1990 without cause, which he had the authority to do. Fourth, he could have waited until my scheduled tenure denial during the 1990-1991 academic year. Instead he attempted to intimidate me into resigning thirteen days after “Joshua” was published because Graham Spanier told him to do so.

A few a hours after the November 29 Frank meeting, Lincoln Kesler, a literature professor now safely in Canada, came to my office to tell me he learned that the OSU president had read “Joshua” the day after it was published and had told the provost, Graham Spanier, to do something about it. Spanier called Frank and, according to Kesler, “reamed him out” over the phone for thirty minutes. I gave Spanier four opportunities in writing to confirm or deny the phone call took place, but he would do neither. I did get confirmation, however, on December 8, 1989, of how pervasive fear of speaking out was at Oregon State University. On December 8, Linc Kesler returned to tell me that many English Department faculty liked “Joshua” but were afraid to say anything to me about it, though one of that silent group, Ted Leeson, did send a note that read, “I was most distressed to hear you got canned. I thought ‘Josh’ was right on the money.”

Being right on the money wouldn’t protect my job. I couldn’t count on help from cowed colleagues worried about their own jobs. And I couldn’t afford a legal war with a wife and daughter to support on a pittance. Still, like Malamud’s Levin, I could not live with myself if I had to live with the obscenity of censorship. I fought back by continuing to write. On February 22, 1990, the Eugene Weekly published “Paper Graders,” a feature article I wrote on abusive working conditions for instructors at the University of Oregon. At the same time, the article refuted the usual response to my dissent as being the gripe of an isolated malcontent. “Paper Graders” corroborated the Wallace article and made it difficult to say that “Joshua” was an isolated complaint written by one disgruntled instructor. “Academic Freedom?”, a sidebar written by the managing editor, told readers about the attempt to force me out of my job for First Amendment use. The response to “Paper Graders” was as strong as it was for “Joshua.” A retired UO professor wrote to the weekly that “Barry Greer’s article ‘Paper Graders’ is superb! It is the absolute truth not only about the University of Oregon, but about American universities in general.” A UO instructor forced out of his job wrote, “I would like to praise the article ‘Paper Graders’ for exposing the conspiracy that has been taking place . . . at the UO. ”

But a reaction heard statewide came on Friday, March 8, 1990, when the Corvallis, Oregon daily paper ran a front-page story with this headline: “Governor rips paranoid faculty.” The article lead read: “A combative Gov. Neil Goldschmidt butted heads with the Oregon State University Faculty Senate on Thursday, saying faculty members tend to be ‘paranoid’ and unwilling to accept responsibility for ‘junk’ work being produced on campus.” The Salem and Portland papers also carried the story.

Graham Spanier, fired Penn State presidentI wasn’t called down to Frank’s office after “Paper Graders” was printed, and OSU renewed my contract for the next academic year. My chair apparently had forgotten he couldn’t count on me. To legitimize censorship, OSU would have to use the bogus tenure system just introduced to purge the department of writing instructors who were neither sycophant nor married to literature faculty. One anecdote is all that’s needed to give you an idea of how asinine, absurd, and thuggish that tenure decision was. The three people who collaborated to force my resignation in 1989 had power a year later in my tenure decision: the assistant chair, the chair, and the provost. I asked each to not participate because of conflict of interest. The assistant chair ignored the request, Frank wrote me a note to say that “Educating Joshua” would not affect his decision, but Graham Spanier was the most ludicrous of the three when he tried to appear to have withdrawn from participation before I asked him to do so.

On February 26, 1991, Spanier wrote this to me: “I have no intention of participating in your promotion and tenure review. On December 6, 1990, I notified Associate Vice President John Dunn that I was disqualifying myself on the grounds that there may be a perception of a conflict of interest (see enclosed memo).” The conflict, Spanier later said, was due to mention of Sandra Spanier in “Educating Joshua” and had nothing to do with any phone call he may have made to the English chair. But Spanier had painted himself into a corner. His February 26th letter was dated six days after the College of Liberal Arts dean wrote that “you [Barry Greer] will not be reappointed to the faculty of the Department of English after expiration of your current contract on June 15, 1991.” The dean wrote his official tenure denial letter on February 20 and hand-delivered it to me in a meeting at his office on February 22. I recorded the meeting after getting his permission to do so, and when I asked him if my dossier would go on to the tenure committee the provost sat on, the dean said, “This one will not go to central administration. The decision has been made here. It stops here.” Spanier never had reason to withdraw from participation and sent me a copy of his December 6 withdrawal memo not in December but only after I asked him, in writing, to withdraw on February 20, 1991. The December 6 memo was a fabrication.

The Editors

*The complete essay with or without full citations can be found at amazon dot com. Best title is “Malamud and Spanier at Oregon State” or “Spanier and Corruption at Oregon State.”