February 26, 2003
Dear USF Community:
We know that many members of the USF community have been dealing with the situation involving Dr. Sami Al-Arian far longer than I have. During the past 18 months, it has been a difficult time for me personally, and we know it has been difficult for each of you as well. Thank you for your resilience during this time.
Today, the Provost and I took a step toward putting an end to this unfortunate saga. We issued a letter terminating Dr. Al-Arian's employment, effective immediately.
Since December 2001, we have said that we are committed to doing what is best for the University of South Florida. We have always said that the safety and security of our students, and the best interests of USF, are our highest priorities.
During the past 18 months, the Provost and I have consulted extensively - both formally and informally - with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community leaders and many others who are so important to USF's future. We have given much thought to the advice we have received from many quarters, particularly our faculty here at USF. On Monday, we consulted at length with the faculty in the Computer Science Department, the Faculty Senate President and the elected faculty senators from the College of Engineering. We have been deliberative and prudent, and our sole objective has been to do what is right for USF.
In August 2002, we outlined in writing our intention to terminate Dr. Al-Arian's employment based on conduct and actions that have adversely affected the legitimate interests of the University. Dr. Al-Arian has repeatedly abused his position at the university. He has misused the university's name, reputation, resources and personnel.
Dr. Al-Arian has the responsibility to uphold the ethical standards of our profession - as a teacher, researcher, intellectual mentor and counselor. Yet, it is apparent that throughout this process, Dr. Al-Arian's statements about his activities have been false and misleading, and he has failed to meet our high professional standards.
The Provost and I have concluded that USF must sever all ties to Sami Al-Arian once and for all.
This action is based on his conduct alone, not his ability to freely speak in the classroom on controversial topics or his rights to free speech outside the classroom. No longer will he be able to hide behind the shield of academic freedom.
This has been a long and trying ordeal for the University of South Florida. It's time for us to move forward, and focus our energies toward building a premier research university. Your patience, your understanding and your support for this university mean more to me today than ever before.
D. David Stamps
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