Constitution

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS: TTU CHAPTER

 CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS

 [Revisions by Mr. Andrew William Smith, Dr. Patrick Reagan, and Ms. Chandra Griffth Elkins, Ad Hoc Constitution Committee, October 2008-March 29, 2010 and presented to the members for a vote on April 16, 2010]

 

 

CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE I. NAME

The name of this association shall be the Tennessee Tech Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).  This chapter shall be affiliated with the national organization and the Tennessee Conference of the American Association of University Professors.

 ARTICLE II.  PURPOSE

The mission of the Tennessee Tech Chapter of the AAUP shall be the same as that of the national organization.

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.  As a non-profit organization, we serve the profession, rather than individual members, and our services are available to all members of the profession, regardless of membership status.

The principal functions of this chapter shall be: (1) to consider questions of general interest to the professoriate; (2) to consider current local questions of academic method or policy, or of professional obligation and privilege; (3) to serve as a nucleus in initiating faculty action; (4) to take action upon specific matters of association business submitted to the chapter by the Council or the officers of the national or state organizations; (5) to cooperate with the officers of the national and state organizations in dealing with professional problems, in order that the AAUP may be as representative of the profession as possible.

ARTICLE III.  MEMBERSHIP

To be eligible for active membership in the Tennessee Tech Chapter of AAUP, one must be a member of the national organization.  The types of memberships and the process for joining are as follows:

  1. There shall be four classes of members:

a. Active Members. Any person who holds a professional position of teacher or researcher or related professional appointment, including any member of an AAUP-represented bargaining unit in a college, university, or professional school of similar grade accredited in the United States or Canada, may be admitted to active membership in the Association.

b. Graduate Student Members. Any person who is, or within the past five years has been a graduate student may be admitted to graduate student membership. Graduate student members shall have all rights and privileges accorded to active members under this Constitution, including the right to hold office and to vote in national elections.  Graduate student members shall be transferred to active membership as soon as they become eligible.

c. Retired Members.  An active member who retires may choose to be transferred to retired membership.  Retired members retain all rights and privileges accorded to active members under this Constitution, including the right to hold office and to vote in national elections.

d. Associate Members. Any active member of this chapter whose work is or becomes primarily administrative shall be eligible for associate membership. Any person not eligible for one of the other three classes of membership may be admitted as an associate member, including members of the general public.

2. The admission of members shall require two steps:

  1. Application
  2. Acceptance and Notification

 Chapter membership shall be for the academic year.

ARTICLE IV.  OFFICERS

 The officers of this organization shall be a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer.  These officers shall be elected annually at the last regular meeting in the spring and shall take office at the close of the meeting at which elected.  All officers serve one-year terms, with no term limit.

ARTICLE V. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

 There shall be an Executive Committee consisting of the president as presiding officer, the vice-president, the secretary, and the treasurer.

ARTICLE VI.  COMMITTEES

 This chapter shall maintain a standing committee on membership recruitment and retention.  Other standing committees may be created by the positive action of the chapter at a regular meeting, provided the establishment of such a committee has been discussed at least one previous meeting in the same academic year.

Ad hoc committees may be established by the chapter or the president at a regular meeting, of by the Executive Committee in session.

ARTICLE VII.  MEETINGS

Regular chapter meetings shall be held three times per semester during the academic year.  Special meetings may be called by the Executive Committee, provided written notice has been extended to the membership at least four days prior to the meeting.

ARTICLE VIII.  RULES OF ORDER

The rules of order contained in the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern the parliamentary procedure of this organization whenever applicable, except that the constitution and by-laws of this chapter and the constitution of the national AAUP shall take precedence in the event of any inconsistency.

ARTICLE IX.  BY-LAWS

 By-laws to this constitution may be adopted as needed for the effective implementation of the provisions of this document.

 ARTICLE X. AMENDMENTS

This constitution may be amended at any regular meeting of the chapter by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting, provided that a copy of the proposed amendment has been sent to all members at least two weeks prior to the meeting at which the vote will take place, and further provided that the proposed amendment has been discussed at the previous regular meeting.

Welcome!

Introduction

Since 1915 the AAUP has been promoting sound academic practices and working for those practices to be accepted by the higher education community, as well as by national and state legislators. In the interest of the common good, it defends academic freedom and tenure, advocates collegial governance, develops policies ensuring due process, backs affirmative action, and seeks the overall well-being of the profession.

The AAUP chapter at Tennessee Technological University promotes the activities and values of the AAUP on the state and campus level. We hold monthly business meetings to discuss topics pertaining to tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance.

To check out our concerns and contributions, click on the appropriate links. The national AAUP website carries even more news of importance to higher education, as well as many of the classic AAUP statements on academic freedom, etc., and up-to-date ones about currently hot topics such as the use and pay of part-time faculty members, distance education, independent boards, and intellectual property rights.

The AAUP has  about 45,000 members nationwide; TTU has about 40 members. Different kinds of membership are available to faculty members and others on campus and off.

Our goal is to provide the faculty of TTU an organized voice through which to discuss concerns and communicate issues.

Join the AAUP here: https://www.aaup.org/membership/join

Feb 2018 minutes

Minutes AAUP Meeting 2/13/2018

 

In attendance:  Jon Jonakin; Megan Atkinson; Ada Haynes; Josie McQuail; Julia Gruber; Kim Godwin; Ahsan Languri

Guest: Cassie Watters

Treasurer’s Report – Allen Driggers, via report: Balance in our account was $6,023.01.  Deposit today of $485.30 was not reflected in that.  Quarterly dues to AAUP national were just paid.  A check was written to cover a Red Book given to Dr. Mark Stephens.

The Treasury is healthy and stable.  The checking account address needs to be changed to Dr. Diggers.  Requests for reimbursements need to be made to the treasurer if there are any pending.

Membership report:  Kim Godwin: We have 37 members + 1 or 2.  The AAUP national membership list is problematic. There was some discussion about recruitment opportunities in the current climate.

Committee W – the gender equity study was given before the Faculty Senate by Ada Haynes and Troy Smith.  Some people first questioned it and then came around and seemed to accept it.  It has been on the Faculty Senate agenda but keeps getting tabled because of all of the other things going on on campus.  When it was given at the open forum there was a diverse group including students, faculty and administrators.  There were good comments and questions. Drs. Haynes and Smith are hoping to write up the information and statistics for a publication.  The editor of The Oracle called President Oldham and asked about Oldham being over paid and faculty underpaid.  President Oldham said he did not believe the study and said there are a lot of bad universities out there.  It seems the solution to the problem is now to find a different comparison for faculty – not to compare them to the national norm.  Dr. Haynes said that we hire nationally for faculty positions and this needs to be kept in mind.  Dr. Gruber asked if salary data is being sent to national AAUP.  This is important.  For the staff side Drs.  Smith and Haynes did their own comparison which showed they are NOT overpaid, but the only comparable group is community colleges.  Dr. Haynes said that if the administration starts picking and choosing comparison groups then the numbers lose validity.  Right now there are 3000 institutions in the comparison.  Dr. Haynes said she has never been told which CUPA figures are being applied or what exactly is being used by TTU in their salary comparisons.  Dr. Gruber reported that Acting Provost Mark Stephens had come to the same conclusions as Drs. Smith and Haynes’s study.  She noted that Dr. Stephens worked to get AAUP data and came to the presentations.  Dr. Jonakin asked if on the new committee set up by the university to study salaries there were any women?  Dr. Haynes said yes, and Dr. Jonakin asked if they were aware of the study?  Dr. Haynes said she was not sure.  Cassie Watters said students always seem to be uninformed about what goes on campus and suggested that the study be presented to the SGA (Student Government Association).

New Business – we need to change the bylaws to reflect meeting day changes voted on by AAUP.

Dr. Gruber said she wanted to conduct a new satisfactory survey regarding the TTU administration after the Fitzgerald Glider Engine controversy.  She pointed out that we never hear the results of the Administrators’ evaluations.  Dr. Gruber has asked for assistance on putting together a survey from faculty in Sociology and Political Science in order to establish objective and non-leading questions.  There was some debate about what type of survey instrument to use.  Dr. Haynes suggested Qualtrix.  Survey monkey was also discussed. There was concern expressed about privacy issues.  It was noted that staff is more nervous about stating opinions.  Cassie Watters and Kim Godwin both noted that the atmosphere on TTU campus is very fearful.

On the Fitzgerald Glider Engine controversy Dr. Jonakin pointed out that there seems to be a tendency to act with impunity on the part of administration, but in choosing an Inquiry Committee President Oldham and Dr. Soni recused themselves.  He asserted it depends on how rigorous this committee is what the results would be.  Dr. Sharon Huo is chairing it and Faculty Senate President Christy Killman met with her to discuss it. Dr. Joy was supposed to have some say on the formation of the committee.  Dr. Gruber stated that what was in question was the ethics behind the research – there seemed to be a conflict of interest and fraud in manipulation of data.  The letter that went to the EPA showed lack of instruments to even measure the things supposedly being measured.  With the firm of Fitzgerald financing the research and the promise of a center for TTU on their property there seemed a conflict of interest.  Benjamin Mohr was removed as Primary Investigator without being told.  The ethics of doing research and guidelines for the PI according to Dr. Haynes are very strictly regulated.  President Oldham’s signature.  Cassie Watters pointed out that the ethics in outsourcing is a problem, as with custodial outsourcing.  The lawyer from UT asked about ethics laws, and they seem to be weak- it’s only when the issues is exposed to the public that the public sees it for what it is: unethical.  Public exposure is important.

Next social:  The Lazy Cow, March 21.  There was a social also on Feb. 28 at the Red Silo.

Jon Jonakin, letter to the editor (H-C), April 6

Letter to the editor:

Tom Jones’ letter to the editor on April 3rd exemplifies the willful ignorance and even thuggish attitude of those who seek to protect the TTU administration in the wake of the TTU/Fitzgerald Glider Kit (FGK) research scandal and the ensuing investigation.  Jones, the Chairman of TTU’s governing Board of Trustees, singles out for condemnation and threats those TTU faculty who have ‘passed judgment’ on the widely criticized research report, suggesting that their opinions are flawed since they have ‘no access’ to the full report.  In this regard, Jones walks in lock step with TTU President Phil Oldham who has used the fact that Fitzgerald owns the research and has thus far failed to disclose the entire ‘report’ as a tiny, insufficient fig leaf to attempt to hide what is clearly administrative indiscretion.  Moreover, Jones walks in lock step with FGK’s thuggish legal maneuvers when Jones asserts that faculty may have ‘violated policy’ by critiquing the research.

Whatever critiques of the TTU/Fitzgerald research that TTU faculty and others such as myself have made are based entirely on what IS KNOWN and is part of an expanding public record; a record that was developed by experts in environmental testing and law and based on the existing report and follow up interviews with the non-credentialed TTU administrator—Associate Vice President Tom Brewer–who carried out the research and wrote the now infamous report.   The public record cited by faculty is clear, unambiguous, and uniformly scathing in its account of the failings of the TTU research.  In addition, the two TTU administrators who are directly involved in this mess—Brewer and Vice President Bharat Soni–have already incriminated themselves in public statements made before the TTU Faculty Senate wherein they appeared to implicate themselves in a scheme of procedural malfeasance.

Both Jones and Oldham need to ask: if FGK ‘owns’ additional, non-disclosed data that would refute the current criticism of the existing report, why have they not released it?  The fact that FGK has not released further data speaks volumes and tells us with near certainty that there is nothing more to learn that will reverse the conclusions already drawn.   Considering all this, Jones’ dismissals of, and threats toward, those speaking up about this scandal smack of, again, willful ignorance and thuggishness and suggest that the leadership of TTU’s governing Board is failing miserably in its oversight role.

 

Jon Jonakin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, TTU

1345 Inglewood Drive, Cookeville

526-3399

Tennessee Tech University chapter of American Association of University Professors: Resolution on the Fitzgerald glider kit study and investigation

WHEREAS a chief purpose of AAUP has always been the protection of shared governance, which requires academic matters in the university to be primarily the purview of faculty, as well as to ensure higher education’s contribution to the greater good, and
 
WHEREAS university professors have a participatory stake in maintaining the ethics and professional standards of their institutions’ research processes, and
 
WHEREAS our university risks damage to our credibility, national reputation, and our potential to gain research funding due to performing tests for Fitzgerald Glider Kits that could potentially affect their EPA emissions regulation status, potentially saving them large amounts of money while also being potentially dangerous to the public, without proper faculty participation or oversight, with that research being called into question nationally for both its methodology and for its ethical implications by numerous credible organizations, and
 
WHEREAS a partnership was announced soon afterward between Fitzgerald and Tennessee Technological University, which included Fitzgerald providing the university with a research facility, which creates a situation that could reasonably be interpreted by third parties as a potential ethics violation and evidence of possible quid pro quo, and
 
WHEREAS Millard Oakley, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, has a business relationship with Fitzgerald, being listed by the Better Business Bureau as a member of the management team of Fitzgerald Peterbilt, in Glade Spring, Virginia, and
 
WHEREAS, according to Tennessee Technological University Board of Trustees Bylaws, Article 1.4 B, Trustees must “Be free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protect Tennessee Tech from such influence”, and
 
WHEREAS Tennessee Tech’s Policy 780 (Misconduct in Research) Article 4 E defines “Conflict of Interest and Commitment” as “the real or apparent interference of one person’s interest with another, where potential bias may occur due to prior or existing personal or professional relationships”, and
 
WHEREAS the university’s ongoing internal inquiry into possible violation of Policy 780 in the Fitzgerald affair has as its focus the Associate Vice-President for Strategic Research Initiatives, with the Vice-President of Research and Economic Development and the President of the University recusing themselves due to their involvement in the actions being investigated, with the role of the President in the inquiry and potential investigation being fulfilled by the Board of Trustees, one of whose members, Millard Oakley, is involved in the actions being investigated and is in violation of Trustees Bylaws 1.4 B and policy 780 Article 4 E, and
 
WHEREAS the decisions leading to this turn of events, which any objective third party could reasonably recognize as a potential appearance of ethics violations and conflicts of interest, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, demonstrate a disturbing failure of judgment, foresight, and leadership, and
 
WHEREAS the disturbing trend at Tennessee Tech of bypassing and undercutting faculty and established academic procedure in order to more quickly respond to corporate interests is a bad precedent for maintaining the mission of higher education and academic freedom in the state of Tennessee (a pursuit of knowledge for the common good, and to promote a healthy society),
 
WE, the Tennessee Technological University Chapter of American Association of University Professors, hereby RESOLVE to call for the entire Board of Trustees to recuse themselves due to potential conflict of interest (to wit, one of their members being in violation of policy and a potential target for the inquiry/investigation), and for the President’s role in the inquiry/investigation to instead be filled by an external agent chosen by the Faculty Senate; we further call for the Board to take no action regarding extending the university president’s contract unless and until the ongoing investigation is finished and establishes his degree of culpability.
March 1, 2018

Jon Jonakin, letter to the editor: Feb. 12, 2018

February 12, 2018

Letter to the Editor:

The decision by TTU’s President Phil Oldham to undertake an investigation into possible misconduct in research carried out by TTU and paid for by the Fitzgerald Glider Kit company is to be commended. Also to be commended was the decision of Oldham and Vice President for Research and Economic Development Barat Soni to recuse themselves from the investigation given Oldham’s early and strong endorsement of the research report and Soni’s close relationship as direct supervisor of a principal player in the matter, Tom Brewer, Associate Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives. The TTU research yielded results sought by Fitzgerald and, once passed along to administrators in the U.S. EPA, was used in an effort to reverse regulatory rules that would have negatively impacted the ‘bottom line’ of the Glider industry. TTU’s inquiry into this affair involves looking into possible conflicts of interest and manipulation and/or suppression of data and will take place over the coming weeks.

Less commendable and simultaneous with the decision to investigate, however, was a decision by President Oldham to call for an ‘external peer review’ of the study. Numerous external reviews of the study–carried out by expert peers–have already occurred. Without exception, they have found the study to be deeply flawed and without merit in determining regulatory policy. Yet Oldham wants yet another review. This decision has puzzled many in the TTU faculty and threatens to undercut the inquiry process. The call for an external review suggests that the TTU faculty members chosen to undertake the inquiry—among them presumably engineering experts–are not to be trusted to render an objective, fair judgment in the matter. Moreover, the call for external review suggests a desperate attempt to establish an alternative narrative; one that goes against what every external reviewer to this point has found.

Such an external review raises an obvious, thorny question: who should select the external reviewers? Certainly it should not be President Oldham, who has rightly recused himself from the inquiry nor, realistically, any TTU administrator for that matter. Clearly defined TTU procedures exist for the investigation of academic misconduct but, to my knowledge, there is no procedure or precedent governing an ad hoc, external review request. No official explanation has been offered as to why it is needed, or why the TTU investigation would not suffice in and of itself. This external review is unwarranted, a bad idea, and should be abandoned.

Jon Jonakin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, TTU

Jon Jonakin letter to the editor, Dec. 20

Letter to the editor:

Recent expert scrutiny and commentary on TTU research carried out under the sponsorship of Fitzgerald Glider Kits confirm early suspicions regarding possible conflicts of interest and incompetent research.  The TTU research had concluded that rebuilt truck engines polluted no more and perhaps less that new truck engines; thereby offering evidence to override tighter EPA emission standards being considered for the glider kit industry.

But according to experts at the International Council on Clean Transportation [ICCT], the TTU study is “rife with unexplained claims and contradictory statements.”  [The ICCT analysis of the TTU research can be found at: http://www.theicct.org/blog/staff/glider-industry-petition-support-glider-trucks-debunks-itself]

From the ICCT report:  “[T]he first problem is what the [TTU] summary doesn’t contain, which is anything at all about the test methodology. There are two pieces of information that are always supplied when research laboratories describe a vehicle or engine emissions test, even in summary form: information on the test equipment and information on the test cycle. The Tennessee Tech summary includes neither.”  A subsequent teleconference meeting between EPA and TTU–described in the ‘docket’ hyperlink in the above ICCT document–did reveal some of the methodology pursued but this only deepened one’s understanding of the insufficiency of the research.  Notes from this meeting confirmed the test lab “was unable to measure particulate emissions from diesel engines” and thus was not ”anywhere close to being equipped to follow certified emissions testing protocols that have been in place for decades.”  This meant “that the ‘study’ doesn’t… empirically assess one of the two main harms from the explosion of glider sales that EPA intended to address—particulate matter emissions.”  Moreover, the TTU summary report [hyperlinked in the above ICCT link] failed to “ report NOx emissions measurements…except to note that they ranged from 0.44 to 6.45 grams per horsepower-hour… — that is, between 2 times and 32 times the NOx limit for post-2010 engines! Not only does that not call into question EPA’s Phase 2 assumptions; it confirms them.”  The Phase 2 rules led to limitations on glider truck sales due to these emissions.

The shoddy TTU research and early secrecy surrounding the methodology, along with the potential conflicts of interests between TTU and Fitzgerald, has caught the attention of the national press and in an unfavorable light.  See:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/science/ct-epa-scientists-20171110-story.html.  The desire of TTU administrators to link the university with business interests has seriously jeopardized not only TTU’s reputation but possibly the nation’s public health.

Jon Jonakin, TTU Emeritus Professor of Economics

526-3399

1345 Inglewood Drive, Cookeville

Jon Jonakin letter to the editor, Dec. 6 2017

Letter to the editor:

 

Conflicts of interest are best avoided under any circumstance but that has not stopped top administrators at TTU from involving themselves in a relationship that comes with a possible double conflict of interest.  A local Crossville trucking firm, Fitzgerald Glider Kits, recently sponsored–as in paid for—research involving a TTU professor and students that measured emissions from truck engines that had been rebuilt with Fitzgerald ‘glider kits’.  Fitzgerald was keen to find evidence that would overturn rules left by the Obama administration that would require Fitzgerald to abide by stricter and more costly emission standards in order to reduce excessive emissions thought to originate with rebuilt engines.  From the Fitzgerald engines’ sampled in the TTU-directed study it was determined that emissions were not only not higher but were perhaps lower that emissions from new engines, thus permitting a challenge to the EPA rule change under consideration.

The first, possible and troubling conflict of interest arises from the fact that the research, until now, has remained undisclosed to public scrutiny since such ‘sponsored’ research is by law the property of the sponsor.  That Fitzgerald stands to gain from such research would seem to demand the release of the study in order to determine if the sampling procedure and testing methodology are appropriate.   It’s all the more important that the study be released since the TTU professor who directed the research is a Civil Engineer with a background in concrete and not a Mechanical Engineer specializing in internal combustion engines.  My efforts to obtain a report of the study from Fitzgerald have been unsuccessful.

The second possible conflict of interest arises from the fact that TTU was recently granted physical space at Fitzgerald’s plant to open something called the ‘Center for Intelligent Mobility’.  The opening of this Center staffed by a TTU administrator came shortly before the release of the study.  As the Herald Citizen reported on July 17, 2017:  “A new partnership with Tennessee Tech University emerged out of [the ‘fight’ between Fitzgerald and the proposed EPA regulations].”  The possibility of a quid pro quo and compromised research under these circumstances is painfully obvious.  In order to put aside doubts, Fitzgerald should release the details of the study and TTU should reconsider its interest in such ‘sponsored’ research.  And it might be time for the Herald Citizen to revisit this issue with some investigative journalism.

 

Jon Jonakin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, TTU

1345 Inglewood Drive, Cookeville

526-3399

Jon Jonakin: On the subject of President Oldham’s recusal from investigation

February 14, 2018

President Oldham, Provost Stephens, Associate Provost Huo, Associate Vice President Otuonye, Associate Dean Hoy, Associate Dean Motevalli, Professor Killman, and Mr. Jones:

Faculty and others are expressing concern over one aspect in particular of the inquiry into the TTU/Fitzgerald research begun under the terms of Policy #780. It is unclear whether President Oldham, like Vice-President Soni, has recused himself from the inquiry and possible investigation.

If not, President Oldham should formally recuse himself immediately and on the basis of his prior support for this research and as evidenced by his and Associate Vice President Brewer’s signatures on the report sent to Congressperson Black and the U.S. EPA. It is likely that the inquiry committee will need to speak with President Oldham in the capacity of a ‘respondent’ in this matter and in order to determine what he knew about the details of the research and when; and what he knew about the process by which the Principal Investigator may have been wrongfully supplanted by others. Were President Oldham to retain his powers in this matter, and as spelled out in Policy #780, he would involve himself in a clear conflict of interest since ‘the President’ is responsible for determining whether or not to proceed to a formal investigation [see Section VIII.H of Policy #780].

Presumably Vice President Huo, as the ROI, will not also serve in the President’s designated role and make the above determination and whatever other determinations are called for by ‘the President’ in Policy #780. Once recused, the same policy would appear to require that a substitute be chosen in President Oldham’s place.

Thank you for your attention to the matters raised here.

Regards, Jon Jonakin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, TTU

Letter: Jon Jonakin to TTU Administration, re: Fitzgerald, Jan. 18, 2018

January 18, 2018

President Oldham, Vice President Soni, Vice-President Brewer, Associate Dean Hoy, Associate Dean Motevalli, Professor Killman:

I am contacting you regarding the Fitzgerald Glider-sponsored research that was carried out under the auspices of TTU and the leadership of the Principle Investigator, Chair and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Professor Benjamin Mohr.  As I am sure you are aware, the TTU report on the research concluded that trucks outfitted with the Fitzgerald Glider kits and rebuilt engines evidenced pollution emissions no greater than those emissions from new truck engines.  The TTU research was subsequently used by the U.S. EPA–and with the apparent full endorsement of TTU–to support the agency’s suspension of a proposed rule that would have imposed costly pollution control regulations on the glider industry.  I presume, as well, that you are aware of the subsequent and scathing criticism that the TTU glider research has come under.  That criticism, I would argue, is well-founded, extensive, and deeply disturbing.  In the attached two links below you will find examples of the expert witness criticisms of the TTU research.  I am not aware of any substantive rebuttals that those involved with the TTU research have offered by way of reply to this criticism.

https://www.theicct.org/blog/staff/glider-industry-petition-support-glider-trucks-debunks-itself

file:///C:/Users/JJonakin/Downloads/EDF%20ELPC%20WE%20ACT%20Comments%20on%20Gliders%20Proposed%20Repeal%20final.pdf

What all this suggests to me and many others in the TTU community that I have spoken with is that we have not only provided a shoddy product in the aforementioned research but that it has also involved us in what is easily understood and perceived as conflicts of interest.   Conducting proprietary, sponsored research on behalf of a for-profit corporation that promises to help that corporation’s ‘bottom line’ via its effect on public policy should alert all concerned to the need to provide quality research and thereby avoid any hint of a conflict of interest.  The TTU research utterly fails in this regard.  The establishment of the TTU Center for Intelligent Mobility [CIM] in Fitzgerald-provided space further heightens the unavoidable perception of a conflict of interest.   Indeed, the presence of conflicts of interest in the establishment of research ‘Centers’ at TTU is not a unique occurrence.  The now defunct TTU Center for Health Care Informatics had as its appointed director an individual who quickly and conveniently established himself as a the head of a local company that then became a client of the same TTU Center.

What the TTU glider research further suggests is that the university has failed in its oversight of research and in its due diligence of ‘sponsored research’ in particular.  These failings raise critical questions:  Was the Principle Investigator, a civil engineer, the appropriate engineering professional for the research?  Was the Principle Investigator directly involved in the testing of the engines at the Fitzgerald site and in the preparation of the report on the research?  Does the university have policies that govern issues related to individual competence and procedure in matters concerning this type of sponsored research?  I have reviewed the university’s two policies [TTU Policy #750 and TTU Policy #780] that deal with the conduct of research.  It would appear to me in light of the criticisms made of the report and the relationship of TTU’s CIM with Fitzgerald that at least two violations of university Policy 780 [Misconduct in Research] are likely to have occurred: Policy 780, Section IV.E: “Conflict of Interest and Commitment: the real or apparent interference of one person’s interest with another, where potential bias may occur due to prior or existing personal or professional relationships.”; and Policy 780, Section IV.H: “Falsification: manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results, such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.”

Regarding Section IV.E and conflict of interest: The establishment of TTU’s CIM in space provided by Fitzgerald Gliders and in close conjunction with the questionable research favorable to Fitzgerald’s interests is a sufficient basis for an investigation involving a possible conflict of interest.

Regarding Section IV.H and falsification/manipulation of data: There are plausible grounds for believing that an intentional misrepresentation of the results of the study has occurred by manipulating the study in a way that ignored the pollutants of concern: nitrogen oxides and particulate matter [PM].  From the above attached EDF link, the second of the two:

[from page 18]: Regarding PM levels from glider vehicles, TTU’s letter indicated that the PM levels for all 13 test vehicles were “below the threshold detection point” and, consequently, no test data were presented. This is a misleading statement. In fact, TTU did not measure PM at all. EPA staff confirmed in a recent discussion with TTU representatives (including Thomas Brewer, one of the authors of the TTU June 15, 2017 test summary letter), that TTU had not measured PM levels. Instead, TTU had attempted to draw conclusions concerning PM levels via visual inspection and collected no PM emission data. The report’s conclusion that “[a]ll vehicles met the standard” for PM is simply not supported by TTU’s testing because TTU conceded (only after follow-up inquiry) that it did not even measure PM emission levels for any of the test vehicles.

[from page 20]: First, TTU has not provided sufficient description of its test program to allow an independent assessment of their conclusions. As noted in the preceding section, the only vehicle-specific numeric data provided were CO emission levels.  But CO emissions are not the pollutant of concern for EPA for the purpose of the Phase 2 Standards or this Proposed Rule. The pollutants of concern — the ones creating the manifest public health hazard — are NOx and PM. Thus, TTU’s proffered conclusion that a glider vehicle achieved “the best result”—if based on the CO emission results, which is never clarified—is entirely misleading.

[from page 21]: “Meanwhile, TTU inexplicably did not report any individual vehicle NOx emission test values.  More generally, the summary report omits vital information on testing conditions that are essential to interpret and verify the report.”

The above expert criticism is sufficient to indicate the possible presence of an intentional suppression of data [on vehicle-specific NOx levels and overall PM levels] vital to the research at hand.   How could TTU have undertaken to do research on pollution emissions from rebuilt engines and subsequently failed to measure or report accuarately or appropriately that data regarding the two pollutants of immediate concern?   Apart from intentional manipulation or omission of data, the only other possible explanation would be gross incompetence on the part of the TTU researchers and those who prepared the report.

Finally, let me say that TTU’s reputation is at stake here and, more importantly, the health and well-being of millions of people, as is made clear in the attached documents.  The issues raised here need to be faced, discussed, and formally investigated.  It is my hope that the TTU Faculty Senate and the governing Board will undertake investigations of this matter as well.

Many of us in the TTU community feel that the administration fails to understand the potential negative effects this incident can have on the university going forward.   In this regard and by way of mitigating the immediate problem, I would like to ask that the university publically acknowledge that there are profound problems associated with this study and, further, that TTU should request that the EPA withdraw the study from consideration in the current matter of whether and how to regulate the glider industry.

Regards, Jon Jonakin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, TTU