Rubenstein Dean forced to resign

Lawrence “Larry” Forcier, interim dean of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, was forced to resign from his position on Tuesday, Feb. 17. According to an e-mail from Forcier to the students of the Rubenstein School, UVM Provost John Hughes informed Forcier that he was being placed on administrative leave over a week ago. In his e-mail, Forcier said that he felt that he should challenge the decision of Provost Hughes.Forcier did not provide many details about the circumstances of his resignation in his e-mail. Forcier said that Hughes and Associate Provost Jane Knodell told him in a meeting that he “scared some people and [he] was creating a hostile work environment for them.” “Out of respect for the school and the processes that have been invoked, I cannot go into any further detail here as to the circumstances that led to the termination of my status as Interim Dean,” Forcier said in his e-mail.Forcier quoted from two evaluation reports that highlighted what he called his “support for diversity.”Associate Provost Jane Knodell, an economics professor, assumed the management responsibilities of the Rubenstein School on Feb. 12, according to Enrique Corredera, the Director of UVM’s University Communications. Feb. 12 was the day since which Forcier has been on leave. Corredera also said that there was an active search for a permanent dean – a search which had been ongoing for some time before the news of Forcier’s resignation. Corredera said he could not provide information about Forcier’s ability to challenge Hughes’ decision. “This is a personnel matter that we are not at liberty to discuss, that is pretty much the only answer I am able to give you,” Corredera said. The response among students in the Rubenstein School is shock and anger, according to two students who spoke with the Vermont Cynic.”Confusion and outrage that the University could do this,” UVM Sophomore John McCown, who is a student in the Rubenstein School, said when asked what his reaction to the news was. He described Forcier as “a beacon of what we want to be as environmentalists and stewards of higher education.”McCown said that, to his knowledge, no students in the school knew of Forcier’s situation or of complaints against him before they received the e-mail yesterday. Sarah Klingler, a UVM senior in the Rubenstein School, echoed McCown’s sentiments of anger. “I was extremely enraged,” she said. “Larry is one of the best teachers and best professors and best mentors in the Rubenstein School.””I had never heard anyone speak an ill-word of Larry since I got here,” Klingler said. Both Klingler and McCown said that there would likely be some form of protest against Forcier’s removal. “As soon as I heard, I started texting and calling people,” Klingler said. “We are going to try to petition.””Everyone else has basically been asking what they can do and where we can go from here,” she said. “There is not formal organization of protests but there will be some sort of organized voice against the actions removing Larry as dean of the Rubinstein School,” said McCown. Administrators at the Rubenstein School were not available for comment.