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Dorfsman ruling overturned and professor terminated from UNH

By Ken Johnson, Staff Writer

The Strafford County Superior Court has dismissed former associate professor of Spanish Marco Dorfsman from his position at the University of New Hampshire, overturning the ruling of an independent arbitrator.

“… [T]he arbitrator exceeded his authority under the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] when he found that Dorfsman’s termination was not supported by just cause,” said Justice Brian T. Tucker in his Jan. 30, 2015 conclusion.  “Accordingly, the arbitrator’s decision that UNH violated the CBA by terminating Dorfsman’s employment is vacated.”

Tucker that the independent arbitrator, Gary D. Altman, exceeded his authority when he reinstated Dorfsman on Nov. 13, 2013. Tucker’s ruling will terminate Dorfsman’s employment at UNH.

“We were very pleased to learn that a Strafford County Superior Court judge upheld the university’s right to terminate Marco Dorfsman after he admitted to intentionally lowering the student evaluations of another faculty member,” said Erika Mantz, director of media relations at UNH.

But the American Association of University Professors at UNH (AAUP-UNH) has petitioned to have the verdict reconsidered, which means that the case will go back to Tucker at the Strafford County Superior Court.

“We believe the Superior Court decision was wrong,” said Deanna Wood, president of the UNH chapter of the AAUP. 

If Tucker decides not to reconsider the verdict, Wood said that the AAUP-UNH would appeal the verdict to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

After Altman’s decision, Dorfsman continued to collect pay and have an office on the UNH campus. Tucker’s decision now terminates his pay from the university, along with his office.

Dorfsman admitted to tampering with French lecturer Emilie Talpin’s student evaluations and was initially terminated from UNH in May 2013 on grounds of “moral turpitude” after the professional standards committee of the faculty senate investigated the incident. But wDorfsman was reinstated after Altman’s November 2013 decision.

UNH and the AAUP-UNH disagree on whether the language in their collective bargaining agreement allows for UNH to terminate Dorfsman for moral turpitude under the circumstances of the incident.

At the time Dorfsman tampered with Talpin’s student evaluations, her contract for renewal at the university was still under consideration.

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