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Texas Tech Petition Opposes Ex-AG Gonzales’ Hire

LUBBOCK, Texas – A small group of Texas Tech University faculty members is objecting to the school’s hiring of former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the grounds that he demonstrated ethical failings while in office.

Among those failings, according to the petition being circulated: frequently misleading Congress and the American people, denying the right of habeas corpus, and appearing to show more loyalty to then-President George W. Bush, a Republican, than to the Constitution. Gonzales stepped down amid the politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys and an uproar over allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“His years in the White House were characterized by conduct which, whether or not it was illegal, demonstrated significant ethical failings,” the petition says of Gonzales.

Chancellor Kent Hance said Thursday that the petition targeting the hire will not deter him from having Gonzales on campus.

“I will not change my mind,” he said.

The chancellor said he did not hire Gonzales because of his political views and noted that, “if Eric Holder retires tomorrow, I’d try to hire him, too,” speaking of the current attorney general, who is a Democrat.

Walter Schaller, a tenured associate professor of philosophy who is circulating the petition, has said he does not expect it to affect Gonzales’ hire. But he said he felt it important to air faculty concerns that Gonzales might remain a professor beyond the yearlong teaching stint for which he has been hired.

About 74 people have signed the petition, which asserts that Gonzales should not be hired and that Hance should not be involved in faculty hires. Hance said the petition represents a small percentage of Tech’s roughly 1,400 faculty members.

Hance, a one-time Republican congressman from West Texas who defeated George W. Bush for the seat, said he did not hire Gonzales to be a faculty member. However, he said Gonzales would be welcome to continue teaching at Tech beyond a year.

The chancellor said he hired Gonzales, the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general, to recruit and retain minority students at Tech and Angelo State University in San Angelo, which is part of the Tech system. His teaching position was arranged afterward by Tech’s president, the arts and sciences dean, and the Political Science Department chairman. Gonzales, who will be paid $100,000 annually, agreed to a one-year visiting professorship.

A call seeking comment from Gonzales was not immediately returned Thursday.

Gonzales, Bush’s attorney general until he resigned in 2007, will teach a political science class on contemporary issues in the executive branch. The class is full, but the school may expand enrollment because of the demand, Hance said.

Schaller said he anticipates more signatures from current and former faculty members once they return from the summer break. The petition will be given to Hance early in the fall semester.

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