A faculty committee at the University of Maryland's College Park campus this week denounced engineering professor and controversial landlord Shao T. Hsu for "unethical" behavior in allegedly investigating the private lives of some university students.
The condemnation was the first such public statement by a faculty group about Hsu.
In a unamimous vote, the College Park Faculty Council approved a resolution saying they "deplore" Hsu's statements "related to his alleged on-campus investigation in University of Maryland students and their records."
"That makes no difference," Hsu said of the faculty council's denouncement of him, and laughed.
Despite the denunciation, the faculty council's resolution supported delaying any action against the millionaire professor -- who also owns several low-income apartment buildings in Prince George's County and the District -- until several court cases against him are resolved.
The 35-member faculty group represents the university's five academic divisions and serves as an advisory panel to College Park chancellor Robert Gluckstern.
In an October meeting with student government members, Hsu said he had hired private detectives to probe the scholastic records of some of his critics, including a former campus newspaper editor and state Sen. Edward T. Conroy (D-Prince George's), who has sought to remove Hsu from his teaching job.
"If anyone tries to do something against me," Hsu told students at the meeting, "you cannot make me sad, but in my book I register: This person has done something against me. Then I will do something later to get him."
Hsu has claimed to have obtained the confidential academic records of two students.
"We believe such an activity on the part of a university faculty member is unethical and not to the benefit of the university community," the council's statement read. "Intimidation of students or other persons on campus has no place in an academic setting."
But the faculty council added that "the university administration has very wisely recognized that to date there has been no legal infringement of the university faculty contract, and in a difficult situation, has followed the correct course."
"Hsu is a guy who hasn't violated his contract," said Roger McIntire, the faculty council president and a psychology professor. "You're dealing with a person's private business life, and I think they're right in taking no action against him."
Gluckstern said this week that administrators will await further development in Hsu's court cases before deciding whether to take any action against him.
Hsu, 63, faces assult charges stemming from an incident last month when he and a tenant organizer got into a scuffle at his Emerson Gardens Apartments in Hyattsville. The case is scheduled for hearing next month in Prince George's District Court.
As a landlord, Hsu has been repeatedly cited for housing code violations by county housing officials. Last week, Hsu's rental license for Emerson Gardens was suspended after he allegedly failed to correct numerous housing code violations. One of the court cases pending against Hsu involves his having rented one Emerson apartment that housing officials had declared "unfit for human habitation." That case is expected to come before District Court in March.
Earlier this week, housing officials said some tenants in Hsu's other Prince George's rental property, Town and Country Apartments in Seat Pleasant, had been without hot water for most of the last two weeks after a hot water heater broke. Hsu installed a new heated but county officials would not let him use it because it had been improperly connected, posing the possibility of a gas leak or explosion.
Hsu would not comment on whether the water heated had been repaired.