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Brooklyn College faculty members dispute discrimination allegations

NEW YORK (JTA) — Brooklyn College faculty members defended their school’s provost from allegations that he discriminated against Jewish candidates for academic jobs and promotions.

Some 50 professors signed onto an April 4 statement expressing “outrage” over allegations being leveled against Provost William Tramontano.

“Those of us who are signatories to this letter have worked closely with the provost since his arrival at Brooklyn four years ago. … Our experiences with him run counter to the accusations that have been made,” they said in their statement.

Signatories to the statement include more than 20 department chairs, including the chair of the Judaic studies department.

The faculty members spoke out a day after 20 local elected officials sent a letter to the chancellor of the City University of New York, of which Brooklyn College is a part, demanding an investigation of the discrimination allegations. The lawmakers’ letter referred to “numerous accusations have been voiced regarding Provost Tramontano’s racial, anti-female and blatantly illegal actions."

That letter followed an article in the New York Post in which New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and leaders of the school’s business department alleged that Jewish candidates for faculty jobs and promotions were being unfairly rejected. Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat, had written in a separate letter that Orthodox Jewish women were particular targets of discrimination.

No members of the business program signed the faculty members’ statement.

The faculty members’ statement disputed some of the specific allegations that had been raised in the New York Post article and said that charges of discrimination were “without merit.”

The statement also said that the college’s president, Karen Gould, has ultimate discretion over promotion and tenure decisions, not the provost.

“We deplore the completely inappropriate interference in, and attempts to influence, hiring and personnel actions at our College by elected officials,” the professors stated.

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