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Statement by USF President Judy Genshaft
Tuesday, February 26, 2003

Since December 2001, I have said that I am committed to doing what is best for the University of South Florida. I have always said that the safety and security of our students -- and the best interests of USF -- are my highest priorities.

For almost a decade, the faculty, students and staff of this institution have worked under the burden of accusations about the conduct and actions of Sami Al-Arian. During the past 18 months, I have consulted extensively with faculty, alumni, community leaders and many others who are so important to the University’s future.

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 clear 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 given much thought to the advice we have received from many quarters, particularly our faculty here at USF. We have been deliberative and prudent, and our sole objective has been to do what is right for 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 consulted informally with many others, as well.

We have determined that USF must sever all ties to Sami Al-Arian once and for all. Today, the Provost has issued a letter to terminate Dr. Al-Arian’s employment immediately. His use of this educational institution for improper, non-educational purposes, will not be tolerated.

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.

Thank you.

- USF -

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