Olivia Silvey ’25 & Sammi Bray ’25
Faculty Ombud Shane Ewegen called for a subcommittee of the Academic Freedom Committee to consider censuring multiple administrators, including Dean of Faculty Sonia Cardenas, due to their refusal to participate in the 2022 Ombud investigation of grievances against Cardenas and associate dean Takunari Miyazaki. The other administrators include College Counsel Dickens Mathieu, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance Pamela Whitley and Vice President for Human Resources Michelle Cabral.
In a statement to the Tripod, Ewegen said, “By refusing to participate in the investigation I carried out in this matter, the administrators in question clearly violated the Faculty Manual, which specifically includes administrators among those whom the Ombud has the right to investigate. The Manual also states that there is an expectation of compliance on the part of those interviewed. The administrators in question broke the rules. Period, end of sentence. It is now entirely up to the faculty and its representative committees (such as Faculty Conference) whether there will be any consequences for these violations.”
In July 2022, engineering professor John Mertens submitted 19 grievances against Cardenas and Miyazaki to Ewegen to investigate as Faculty Ombud. These grievances included multiple accounts of maladministration and abuse of power. Once Ewegen received the grievances, he began the College’s standard Ombud investigation process, which started with reaching out to the deans to inform them of the grievances and request a time to meet individually. Two months after the initial emails to the deans — prolonged by the deans’ respective summer schedules — Ewegen wrote them again asking for answers to his questions.
Cardenas responded that “she and Miyazaki would be delayed in responding owing to the fact that COMPLAINANT had also sent a complaint against her and Miyazaki to the Board of Trustees,” according to the Ombud report. She also added that she would be responding on behalf of Miyazaki due to his supportive capacity as associate dean, and “to whatever questions are appropriate.”
To this Ewegen responded questioning why the Board of Trustees complaint would prevent the deans from participating in the Ombud investigation, and expressed that it seemed inappropriate for Cardenas to speak on behalf of Miyazaki, since grievances were brought against both of them individually. Cardenas replied that she was “simply following the advice of legal counsel,” referencing College Counsel Dickens Mathieu. After this exchange, Ewegen was informed that the complaint to the Board would not be pursued, which “suggested to me that the “matter with the Board” had been settled, and that I could then reasonably expect to receive answers from Cardenas and Miyazaki shortly,” states the Ombud report. When Ewegen’s deadline for the deans passed without compliance from them, he reached out to Mathieu to confirm Cardenas’ claim that she had received legal counsel to decline to participate in the Ombud investigation. During this time, Ewegen also reached out to Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance Pamela Whitley and Vice President for Human Resources Michelle Cabral asking to speak about the situation. In Mathieu’s response, he “requested that, because Cardenas and Miyazaki are currently subject to an investigation by the office of DEI [referring to lawyer Scott Roberts’ concurrent investigations], the Ombud investigation be postponed and that I ”temporarily withdraw [my] information requests” to Cardenas, Miyazaki, Whitley, and Cabral,” according to the report. Whitley and Cabral never responded to Ewegen’s request, and after Mathieu restated that the four administrators would not be participating in the investigation, Ewegen informed him that he would proceed without their participation. Mathieu, Whitley and Cabral did not elect to provide a statement on the matter.
In an abridged version of the September Ombud report, dated Oct. 19, 2022, Ewegen concludes that “the administration’s refusal to participate in the investigation serves as a flagrant violation of the… Faculty Manual.” Ewegen is referencing the section of the Manual that states that the Ombud has the full capacity “to inquire of any member of the Faculty, administration, student body, member of the clerical and custodial staffs, in connection with the Ombud’s proper inquiries and to receive full and complete answers.”
This is an ongoing story.