UPDATE 11/11: Email Correspondence between Professor Michael Rectenwald and Dean Fred Schwarzbach


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EMAIL FROM DEAN FRED SCHWARZBACH TO MICHAEL RECTENWALD, FRIDAY, NOV. 11

Michael,

It is disappointing and distressing to find myself writing to you yet again about a media appearance in which you do all you can to obscure your own expressed desire for a leave and instead give people the impression that your leave was involuntary.

The fact of the matter is that this leave has nothing to do with your opinions or your take on the academy and was not involuntary; rather, the truth is, the leave is something you said you wanted and needed.

To insist in private to me that you "unequivocally need" a leave, and to then imply the reverse publicly ... this kind of behavior is dishonest, Michael - there is simply no other word for it.  I must ask you once more to please stop this deceptive behavior, as you promised me -- untruthfully, as it turns out -- you would in your email of November 4th.

Sincerely,

Fred Schwarzbach
Dean, Liberal Studies

 

Fred Schwarzbach
Dean, Liberal Studies
Arts and Science
New York University
726 Broadway
New York NY 10003

**********************

From: Michael Rectenwald <michael.rectenwald@nyu.edu>
Date: Friday, November 4, 2016
Subject: Your op-ed in the Washington Post
To: Fredric S Schwarzbach <fss3@nyu.edu>

Dear Fred,

I unequivocally need the leave of absence for the reasons given during our meeting. The answer will be the same henceforth in all settings, barring details that I will not give out publicly. In any case, I will not contravene the reasons for the leave publicly.

Sincerely,

Michael.

 

Michael Rectenwald
Liberal Studies/Global Liberal Studies
New York University
726 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10003-9580
Michael.Rectenwald@nyu.edu
http://www.michaelrectenwald.com/

************************

 

 

EMAIL FROM DEAN FRED SCHWARZBACH TO MICHAEL RECTENWALD, THURSDAY, NOV. 3

Dear Michael,

I think it is fair to say I was shocked by the op-ed in the Washington Post.  It is utterly at odds with our email exchange yesterday.  And this is not a matter you can blame on, as you put it in your note to me, "...the penchant among reporters for their suspicions."  This was written by your own hand.

Each day brings a different version -- the NY Post one day, then recanted the next in the student paper.  A private communication one day in which you lay blame at the feet of journalists, then the next an op-ed you yourself authored.

It may be the case that you would happily, as you put it, "...take a break and cash the checks..."  But that's not what the leave is for, and you need to come clean about it.  At this point, I cannot tell whether you genuinely "need" the leave, as you wrote to me yesterday -- presumably at the same time you knew the Washington Post piece was coming -- because you continue to offer two conflicting accounts, one private and one public.

Never in all my years as a dean has an effort to support a faculty member been so completely twisted, or so distorted for personal indulgence.  Your behavior is dismaying.  

But because of the repetitions of the tale you have woven publicly about how you came to have leave -- in spite of saying the opposite privately -- I cannot tell which version you actually consider the truth.   

We don't give leaves or sanctions because of people's Twitter feeds.  For us to be clear on your needs, we require you to state unequivocally and in a direct, unambiguous response whether you still need the leave you requested.  I expect that answer -- whichever you give -- to be henceforth the same in all settings.  If you cannot do that, at this point, I think I have no choice but to make a decision based upon on your public utterances, and the leave you requested -- apparently under false pretenses -- is withdrawn, and you are expected to meet your classes as assigned.

Sincerely,

Fred Schwarzbach  

 

EMAIL FROM PROFESSOR MICHAEL RECTENWALD TO DEAN FRED SCHWARZBACH, TUESDAY, NOV. 1

Dear Fred,

I assure that I have represented the leave of absence to media just as it was represented to me.. Unfortunately, some members of the press found this explanation incredible, and I have since tried to rectified that. I cannot help the penchant among reporters for their suspicions. As for me, II have tried to represents the facts of my leave truthfully, while also merely attempting to respond to the committee on diversity which took such a pot shot at me and with such a lack of collegiality. And I wanted to make my position on the whole trigger warning, safe space and bias reporting culture cleaer.

I do intend to remain on leave and need it for the reasons discussed. I would also like to note that...has been busy representing my putative mental health to various forums on Facebook and this is absolutely none of her business and in fact actionable legally. I would advise her to stop.

Cheers,

Michael

 

Michael Rectenwald
Liberal Studies/Global Liberal Studies
New York University
726 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10003-9580
Michael.Rectenwald@nyu.edu
http://www.michaelrectenwald.com/

 

EMAIL FROM DEAN FRED SCHWARZBACH TO PROFESSOR MICHAEL RECTENWALD, TUESDAY, NOV. 1

Dear Michael,

I must tell you that I was surprised by public accounts you have given for your leave, in which you have either claimed you were forced to take leave or have left the implication that that was the case.

The facts are:

·  No one required or demanded you take a leave.

·  You indicated that you thought a leave from NYU would be a good idea and you took affirmative steps to make that happen.

Contrary to what you have been saying publicly, we don't give leaves based on faculty members' posts on social media.

I am disappointed by all this, and by the attempt to turn an effort to support you as an employee into something else altogether.  But, it seems appropriate to take your words at face value.  I infer from your quoted remarks that you may not, after all, wish or need to take leave, your request to do so last week notwithstanding.  If you no longer wish to take leave, please indicate so in writing to me immediately and we will make all the necessary arrangements to allow you to resume your classes and other duties immediately. 

​If we don't hear from you,​ we will take this as confirmation that you​ wish to​ remain on leave, as you previously requested.

Sincerely,

Fred

 

Fred Schwarzbach

Dean, Liberal Studies

Arts and Science

New York University

726 Broadway

New York NY 10003

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