The Corner

The University of Kurdistan Hawler: A Response to Michael Rubin

This blog post by Michael Rubin, together with his correction and elaboration, draw upon an article I co-authored and that appeared in the American Sociological Association’s Footnotes. Our original article reported on troubles at the University of Kurdistan Hawler, including my summary dismissal and deportation. I write to clear up any remaining confusion about what I (and my co-authors) claim.

Regarding the role of the regional prime minister, Barham Salih, Mr. Rubin suggests that Dr. Salih refused to discuss the issues with me. In truth, my colleagues and I made no special effort to meet directly with the prime minister. Rather, we arranged through an intermediary to meet with Dr. Salih’s chief of staff, Farhad Mulla Aziz. After a fruitful discussion about problems of the university administration, Mr. Aziz said he would make sure that the founder of the university, Nechirvan Barzani (the former prime minister), the minister of higher education, Dr. Dlawer Al’Aldeen , and Dr. Salih would be apprised of the matter. He suggested we might be called back to meet directly with one or more of these officials. None of these meetings materialized, though I did later meet briefly with Dr. Al’Aldeen at my own initiative after my termination.

So, to be clear, I have no evidence that either Mr. Aziz or Dr. Salih played any role in my termination or in my deportation, and I do not discount the possibility that Mr. Aziz may have tried to stay it. I have heard conflicting testimony regarding whether or not our meeting with Mr. Aziz led to my dismissal or expulsion.

As for Rubin’s assertion that the Governing Board of UKH is a “who’s who of the Kurdish political elite,” I cannot confirm this because the identities of virtually all the members are unknown to me. They have been kept confidential as a matter of university policy.

If readers get the impression the there has been an effort to keep “hush-hush” the administrative problems of the University of Kurdistan Hawler that we recounted in our Footnotes article, they are in my view correct. We do not know exactly who knew or did what when, and such lack of transparency is part of the problem.

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