Faculty leaders at the University of the District of Columbia yesterday declared their opposition to plans to appoint former mayor Marion Barry to a teaching position in the school's Criminal Justice Department.
By a 10 to 0 vote, the Faculty Senate Steering Committee, the executive panel of the body that represents UDC teachers, passed a resolution that said Barry should not be appointed "to any position at the university and particularly as a faculty member."
The committee's resolution, along with a similar condemnation issued by the faculty of the Criminal Justice Department, are advisory opinions that cannot block the appointment. But they suggest that the reception awaiting Barry from the faculty will not be a warm one.
"We don't want him here," said E. Dave Chatman, president of the Faculty Senate. He said the plan to hire Barry was inappropriate, especially in light of recent criticism of UDC by a regional agency that is reviewing the university's accreditation.
"This appointment would bring disfavor to the university, both within the academic community and the larger community," Chatman said.
Three of the five full-time faculty members in the Criminal Justice Department issued a statement in which they asked Barry to reject the job offer. They said he lacks the professional and educational experience to teach in the department.
"The function of our department is not to serve a political agenda, nor is it to accommodate political debts," the statement said.
UDC student leaders said they did not take issue with Barry's credentials for teaching public policy. But they said they were concerned that the accrediting agency would view the appointment negatively.
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities has warned UDC that its accreditation is in jeopardy unless university officials address problems with the school's operations, which include concerns about the hiring by administrators of friends and political allies.
"It seems like the same old story," said Student Government Association President Lisa Shaw.
The faculty actions came a day after the chairman of the Criminal Justice Department announced that he planned to offer the former mayor a temporary, full-time teaching position in which Barry would instruct seniors on issues related to public policy in the administration of justice.
The job would pay $34,000 a year, and Barry would work for half a year.
Barry's appointment would have to be approved by the dean of the Liberal Arts College, the vice president for academic affairs and the university president.
Paperwork for the appointment has not reached any of those offices, but university sources said that interim President Miles Mark Fisher IV supports the plan.
Kelsey Jones, chairman of the Criminal Justice Department, said he has talked with people who have talked to Barry about the job, and he expects the former mayor to accept it.
Barry, 54, returned to private life on Jan. 2. In November, he was sentenced to six months in prison after being convicted on a misdemeanor charge of possessing cocaine. He is appealing the conviction.
Barry had let it be known that he would be interested in teaching at UDC. His supporters inside and outside of the university had been working to secure such a position for him.
Barry needs two more years of government service to secure a city pension. A temporary teaching position would not immediately solve that problem. But the board of trustees could take action later to make Barry's position permanent and to make his time as a temporary employee count toward his retirement.
The board first discussed a faculty appointment for Barry during a closed meeting last month. Board sources said a consensus was reached that it would be inappropriate for the trustees -- many of whom were appointed by Barry -- to be involved in appointing him to a faculty position.
Barry supporters tried first to get him permanent teaching jobs in political science and then in urban studies. But faculty members can block appointments to permanent positions in their departments. They did so in each case.
Jones said he has authority to make a temporary appointment in his department without faculty input.